Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Jayy Ghost
With all the noise the Rock The Bells concerts made this year, it’s hard to complain about it. First time appearances such as Black Hippy helped give RTB some dope exclusives and reel in the younger crowd. However, is Rock The Bells getting too commercial?
The answer is a complicated one: yes
In my opinion, 2 Chainz looked way out of place being in a concert previously dedicated to gritty and conscious Hip Hop. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that they’re trying to bring in a more current audience. Still, I would prefer a Mac Miller – or even Kid Cudi – over some stripper music. And in case you were wondering, I am a 2 Chainz listener (not fan), but there is a time and a place for everything.
An artist like 2 Chainz should be playing venues such as a Mountain Dew event or at Summer Jam, not RTB.
I think substance should always be a determining factor if RTB wants to maintain their standard of quality and reputation. Now, I don’t mind fresher, up-and-coming acts attracting younger allegiances as long as there is some degree of lyricism to their work.
Kid Cudi, for example, is an artist that speaks not to everyone, but has a sound that can crossover to Pop or Hip Hop, more so than 2 Chainz. Formally known as Tity Boi (go figure), 2 Chainz’ main subject material is about strippers and selling crack. Let’s not forget that crack has helped build Hip Hop and destroy the black community at the same damn time. & the subculture of stripper music didn’t start with 2 Chainz, either. Trying to mix BBQ with cotton candy is just not a good look to hardcore fans.
A delicate balance is pivotal when combining a multitude of various acts to please both the old and new generations. It seemed like day 1 of the festival focused on the younger demographic, while day 2 was for the O.G. Hip Hop heads that are long time, diehard fans of the RTB series. If it was a rap concert for Pepsi, the expectation of quality would be for commercial Hip Pop, but RTB has always been depicted as an outlet for “real hip hop.” Showcasing their work to a crowd with a mind state for substance over “twerking” music has, in a sense, been their brand for nearly a decade. All in all, for the most part this year has definitely been one for the history books.
I applaud Rock The Bells for trying to reach out to a new crowd. By still having the returning acts we all love from the previous events and mixing it with the current dopesauce, fans are able to get the best of both worlds. I would just prefer a more intricate selection of artists that compliment each other yet, simultaneously, be versatile with different vibes. This sure wont be the last of this special festival and it deserves to evolve into a star studded show with live coverage. I just question will it be for the people or for the industry?
Words by Jayy Ghost