In the article “Rakim: We Need a Few More Kanyes,” David Samuels, a reporter for the Atlantic Magazine, interviews Rakim Allah, one of the most influential rappers in hip hop about his view on the change in hip hop from its earlier years when he rapped, to its current position in society. With the influence of society, media and money, Rakim believes that hip hop has taken a drastic turn and is an all new art form all together. Rakim Allah was a rap artist in its early years around 1985. He talked about how back then, people told stories in their songs, but “now it’s more like, “Look what I got” or “”You ain’t got what I got” or “You got to get what I got.” It’s making the listener a little envious of what’s going on, and it’s almost demeaning.” Rakim says how people listen to music to get away, and to relate to the music, but people cannot relate to the music if they do not have any of the things they are talking about. Hip hop is no longer a way to vent about an issue, or a good day, but rather to boast and brag about your personal success. David Samuels also suggest how “Jay-Z’s a guy who makes $80 million a year off his huge talent, and he raps about his private jet.” In other words, Rakim Allah is against the direction that hip hop is headed. It should not be about bragging and shoving their success in their listeners faces, but rather be the artists way of escaping, and allowing the listener to escape with them. Rakim wishes that this conceited new “art” form would come to an end and hip hops original roots would be revived so he along with the many other listeners could enjoy the music the way it was enjoyed in previous years and be able to say that hip hop is not dead.
In my own opinion, I do not think hip hop is dead, but I do believe it has altered. There are still many “real” hip hop artists such as Nas, J Cole, and Kanye West who continue to rap about real life struggles, a good day, or a real life situation. Of course, as Rakim stated, hip hop has changed. Everything changes, but I would not go on saying that hip hop is dead. Not everyone is rapping about their gold chains, watches, private jets and riches, and I think those people who do rap about that stuff will not make it far. If you go on a site that gives away free downloads, such as datpiff.com, you will see that those who rap about those things, are not making it in the charts, or be as successful as some of the more classical hip hop artists. Hip hop is not dead.