Today, a friend mentioned to me that the Rock the Bells hip hop festival stops in DC and NJ was cancelled.
Perhaps it was just a matter of poor promotion...but I suspect it's more than that.
During my research for The Essential Artist, I found that the simplified, general history of the musical branch for pop music appeared to be rather as follows:
- 1940s, swing/"big band"
- 1950s, rock'n'roll
- 1960s, psychadelic rock
- 1970s, hard rock
- 1980, heavy metal
- 1990, hip hop/"rap"
Yes, there were other genres happening concurrently in each decade (such as "new wave" in the 80s which itself was equally significant if not moreso, albeit for a briefer period and in a different way. I had to acknowledge this even though criteria for ranking the relative influence of any genre is beyond the scope or purpose of this quick reaction article).
While it is convenient to compartmentalize the genres in neat ten-year successions, the seeds of each dominant genre did germinate in the years before solidification - in fact, the emergence of heavy metal was as early as 1970, and of hip hop by 1980. Seen in this light, we may recognize that heavy metal had a run of twenty years from 1970-1990, and hip hop an unprecedented run of over thirty years.
Have we reached that moment when hip hop (finally) recedes into history, after 30 years?
Of course, the end of the era doesn't mean the end of the music. I mean, baroque music still "exists," people listen to it, and orchestras still perform it. Classical, romantic, dixieland, bop...Bach, Mozart, Beethovan, Tchaikovsky, Louis Armstrong, Coltrane, Parker, Davis... We still listen to Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley and The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zep... We still listen to Chuck D and KRS-One and Run DMC and LL Cool J and Rakim and Fat Boys and Tupac and Biggie Smalls...
However, time has quite the dulling effect on the angry, rebellious anti-establishment edge of acid rock, heavy metal and hip hop, as the original acts age and became a part of the establishment. It can be tough to see artists from the 1960s who are now pushing into their 70s; it can be tough to see 1980s hair metal bands with grey hair; to see NWA rapper Ice Cube checking the kids' attitudes in family movies.
It was a great run, but it may be time to actually utter the words, "hip hop is dead, long live hip hop."