By Billy Eisenberg
There was once a time when I would intently listen to old school rap. From early Big L tracks to 2Pac’s “California Love” to Nas’s entire Illmatic to Biggie’s entire collection, the roots of the genre fascinated me. But even as the legacy of those incredible artists continued to build, today’s rap (at least not on a commercial level) just didn’t do it for me the same way. Sure, there were a few that I loved — Common Market and Kanye West, for a couple examples — but for the most part these new artists weren’t taking to heart what the founders had been doing before.
It seemed as though these new sherifs in town were’nt carrying the flags of the earlier rap generation. I thought that rap was on the fast track to completely losing its authenticity. However, something happened this year. I don’t know what it was, but it seems as though the older forms of rap are now starting to be remastered and modernized; rap is now once again a very powerful style of music.
Here is a list of some of the greatest acts of in the history of hip hop and their modern counterparts:
A Tribe Called Quest – For those of you who had the opportunity to see the documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life, you know the world that Q-Tip and Phife Dawg were living in. If you are a big Tribe fan (like me) and have had the opportunity to dig into Tribe’s collection (which if you haven’t, you should), you know that their music is absolutely untouchable. But Shabazz Palaces just might be that up-and-coming act you have been looking for. This duo has some Tribe qualities, such as the musical adventurousness, funky influences, and the use of sonic fog.
Outkast– Outkast is one of my all time favorite groups. Aquemini and Stankonia are both albums that never get me bored. This one is a little bit tougher to call a true influence, but it’s hard to deny that Big K.R.I.T. is filling that void. They’re both bringing very New York styles to their own areas. I have loved Big K.R.I.T. ever since I heard his first mixtape and I truly get that same feeling when I listen to his music that I used to get when listening to Outkast.
Cannibal Ox- For those of you who are more underground, this one is for you. I definitely have to admit, The Cold Vein is my favorite underground hip-hop album ever made. It is just brilliant start to finish. Although it takes a few listens, A$AP Rocky helps bring those provocative lyrics and aggressive hooks back to life. A$AP is continuing to get bigger and it just makes me so happy to hear about the success that he is having. Cannibal Ox should be proud that their style is finally getting some real recognition.
Jay-Z– I know what a lot of you are thinking. “C’mon Billy, Jay-Z’s new stuff is awesome!” Of course that can be argued but, let’s be real, if you’re waiting for another Reasonable Doubt or Blueprint, you’re not getting that anytime soon. So stop resting on the past, and start listening to some Kendrick Lamar. Sure, he uses a little more profanity and is a little more West Coast, but his flow and beats just about give you Jay-Z in a nutshell.
Jurassic 5– Jurassic 5 has a sound that is just so good to the ears, while at the same time having the perfect chemistry to almost give you the right to call their entire collection “perfection.” I hope you all had a good time at Juice Jam because Childish Gambino certainly makes the kind of rap that just sounds so nice that anyone, even the non-hip-hop fans, can enjoy.
Snoop Lion (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg) – Stoners enjoy listening to Snoop. Stoners would probably also enjoy listening to Danny Brown. Sorry, I had to do it.