It’s been one of the subjects of debate since the 70s. When Lil Wayne used to go by Lil’ Wayne, it was slang for a drink. When he started using the name Cash Money, it was a way to refer to the record label. But when Eminem referred to himself as the “world’s greatest rapper” in one verse, he made an important shift: he changed the nature of rap from a free-for-all to a business. He stopped describing himself in terms of one genre and instead said that he “takes his rap seriously.” His lyrics were becoming part of an art form: not just as a collection of rhyming lines, but as an experience, as an exercise that might leave a lasting impression on an audience.
Rap isn’t a genre—not if your entire aesthetic is based on taking a break from things
One thing’s for sure: Even when artists call out the status quo, they will likely find themselves being pushed further and further into the territory of hipsterism. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that after Kanye West, Drake, and Drake will follow suit to become the “world’s best rappers”—not that rappers and rock fans will change a thing: when Drake put his face on a giant “Kanye West” poster, the internet lit up with outrage and ridicule—and he didn’t even know it.
When rappers like Drake or Lil Wayne are successful in promoting the brand of hip-hop that they embrace as their own and are viewed positively by a public that has taken the whole “hip hop is better than classical music” slogan for granted, it’s a little more ironic that a lot of these labels aren’t getting that kind of recognition when they take that same stance.
The way Drake deals with criticism is to turn it up to 11. When he was asked about his rap skills during a recent radio interview, he responded that “you can go to hell and back, I don’t care.” He says he’ll respond to “the negative,” but he refuses to address what critics say about his music, or the issues that he has in his life: he insists that no problems have affected his health or performance, and that he “can’t believe anyone would make these types of comments because they think I’m the same person who was arrested the night I got married. Yeah, I was arrested that night. The night that we got married. That’s real. And that’s not how things work. That’s not a lie. I
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