By Jacqueleen Eng
If you’ve been keeping up with the mainstream rap game, then you’ve probably noticed the rise of some questionable characters. Young guys who don’t necessarily rely on intricate wordplay or deep messages, guys who rap and mumble about benzos and boats and use a lot of autotune. The hate for rappers like Young Thug—and more recently Lil Yachty—is strong, but it’s naive to ignore their innovation and the fresh sounds they’re bringing to the game.
In high school, I frequently listened to Hot 97, one of New York’s biggest hip hop stations, as I drove my brother and my friends and all of our misery to school. I recently watched an interview on the morning show, aptly titled the Breakfast Club, did with Lil Yachty as well as the one they did with another young rapper, Lil Uzi Vert. Lil Yachty is just 18 but has already amassed a huge following after his song “1Night” became a Soundcloud hit. Sporting red beaded braids and often clad in striped Nautica, the Atlanta native has a distinctive voice that is even underneath layers of autotune.
Lil Uzi Vert is only a few years older at 21, but is also a rising star who has taken advantage of his Soundcloud hype that turned “Money Longer” into a single worthy of an Atlantic Records signing. Both were interviewed by the Breakfast Club and both were wrongfully disrespected.
It quickly becomes clear that Ebro Darden, one the biggest radio personalities in the genre, is not a fan of the this new type of sound - which is fine, no one has to like anything. It becomes as issue, however, when the respect for artists is compromised for personal preference. He mocks "1Night" as it becomes clear that he is not only out of touch with the new wave, but that he has no interest in trying to understand and respect it.
Ebro isn't the only one who has trouble accepting the chance in mainstream rap, but as fans of the genre, it is important that we are able to be able to respect and honor the new directions and innovation hip-hop allows. There's a reason why both of the rappers are included in the Freshman Class of 2016 - a competitive list of artists to watch out for, put out by the rap magazine XXL - and it's not simply because they have cool hair. They're doing something different than what we're used to, and that's how genres grow.