Hip Hop is DeadHip Hop Is Dead. That’s the title of one of the top-selling Hip Hop albums – by Nas, a 30-something rapper from New York.
Of course hip hop isn’t dead. All you have to do is look at the emerging global golden age of hip hop. Even if, for argument’s sake, the music were dead in Nas’ provincial American world, an incredible level of creative ferment is taking place from Paris (MC Solaar, for example) to Dakar (Daara J). And we can’t fail to mention Germany’s Afrob, whose thick staccato flow has single-handedly opened the clunky German language for rhythmic exploration.
These people are not trying to be Americans. They are adapting an American medium to express local values. They are also changing hip hop in significant ways.
So is Hip Hop dead? The question is either ignorant or worse. It’s Nas’ attempt to redefine the boundaries of hip hop to “my hood”, as he says in the song. If it’s not exclusionary, it is ignorant: hip hop is currently experiencing its most creative ferment ever.