Over the years the Hip Hop game has changed drastically. In today’s culture we are without powerhouse voices like Slick Rick Rakim, and N.W.A. Instead we have Chief Keef Migos, and Rich Homie Quan. What the difference you ask? The content, the all-natural swag, the respect that artist had back in the day. So where would Hip Hop be if artist like Tupac Shakur and Christopher (Biggie) Wallace where still here? Well, let’s take a second to imagine that world.
Over the years, the content of the Rap game has changed. Back in the day, the music had more substance, artist were talking peace, freedom, equality. There were political messages, Black Love, highlighting the struggle of African Americans. Today if we can actually understand any of the words that are coming from rapper mouths it seem to be about disrespecting black women, violence, drugs, money, partying and being better that the other guys.
Tupac, similar to the rappers before him, brought a social consciousness to his messages. Part of his consciousness could be from his mother making him read the New York Times as punishment when he was a child. Perhaps if he had lived, he would have helped to lead a movement of socially conscious rappers. Maybe there wouldn’t be a sub-category in rap for Lupe Fiasco or Kendrick Lamar. In our society Rappers and Hip Hop culture shape and influence many people. Tupac influenced and affected a lot of people. If you look at the behavior of the new younger generation and think about the people that they are listening to it makes sense. The younger generation no longer has mentors to help them choose things that are good for themselves and the people around them. It’s the idea that if you have no one modeling how to act, you will act however the people around you do. It’s like the old adage, if you don’t have anybody serving the tea then you have to drink the water. I can’t definitely say that the world would be a better place if Tupac was here, but just maybe a few more of our young black men would have more of a sense of purpose. He loved the celebrity attention, and like many of the other rappers of today (TI, Ray J, Benzino and Flavor Flav) he would definitely be on reality TV.
Notorious on the other hand, would not be on reality TV if he was alive today. Although he liked to stay to himself, The Notorious had more of a vulgar and hungry demeanor. He would have continued to build his empire. It is easy to imagine that he would have recruited the best of the best rappers in New York and continued to be a powerful name in Hip Hop. I could only see him as some kind of mentor and recruiter, because as far as rapping he would have to adapt to the times.
Throughout his life, Biggie seemed to be about his money, so it isn’t a far stretch to assume that if Biggie were alive, he would be a mix between what we see in the lives of Jay Z and P. Diddy. More than likely, we as an audience would see him less as an MC and more as a producer. In his life he was notorious for keeping up beef and as a result often found himself fearing for his life. Because of this fear, I don’t think he would have done reality TV although he would make an interesting subject. If Biggie were still in the rap game, he would have been challenged to stay in the game simply because he would be significantly older and more skilled than the young guys that are getting into the game now. Rappers that are now rapping and finding success idolized him and grew up comparing themselves to him. Suddenly, the ones that idolized him would criticize him and attempt to surpass him.
If Biggie and Tupac were here today, perhaps the mentor pool would be bigger than it is and the quality of lyrics and rap would have been significantly different. Youtube rappers would not have found the success that they have and everyone would be forced to step up their game in order to survive in the rap world because the standard would have been set.
By: Tina Grant