I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m a hater. I embrace the title proudly. I hate artists with violent, misogynist, drug and crime related content. I hate rappers who lack even the most basic rhyme skills. I hate unoriginal beats that sound like they were made by a 10-year-old on a Toys R Us keyboard. I hate how the last 15 years of mainstream rap have lowered the bar for aspiring artists. I hate how so many people co-sign mediocrity. Finally, among so many other things I have yet to list, I hate how today’s generation has turned constructive criticism into a bad thing by foolishly renaming it “hating”. But if being outspoken and passionate about the art form I love makes me a hater, I accept the label.
It turns out most of us like-minded haters are often right anyway. Over the years, much of the constructive criticism was well deserved. Remember D4L with their 2006 Billboard # 1 hit “Laffy Taffy”? With cringe worthy flows and production, us haters trashed the song as proof that rap music had sunk to new lows. Of course, young fans loved it, defended it, and painted us as old, out of touch Hip Hop heads. But D4L was a one-hit wonder, ultimately ridiculed for its ridiculously juvenile, simple mindedness. When Soulja Boy dropped “Crank That” in 2007, us haters used him as an example of all that was wrong with rap music at the time. Once again, silly fans rallied behind Soulja Boy. The fact that Soulja Boy was about as talented as a rappin’ circus clown was irrelevant, if even noticeable to his supporters. Despite having a few more hits that followed, each worse than the last, Soulja Boy eventually fizzled out and couldn’t even managed to keep the fans who had once pledged their loyalty to his “greatness”. Last I heard, Soulja Boy was trying to make money by selling tweets. An artist can only get by without real talent for so long. Again, the haters were right.
Many more fly by night rappers would follow, mobilizing millions of blindly devoted rap fans one week to only be passed up for the next hottest thing the following week. While concerned haters continued to poke holes into the fanboy assertions that these clowns were the future of Hip Hop music, the Krayshawns of the world would blow up overnight but come crashing back down within a few short months. In the meantime, rappers with genuine talent like Joell Ortiz were establishing a slow-growing but consistent global fan base.
When rappers like Chief Keef and Trinidad James dropped, us haters voiced our criticism (and disgust!) loud and clear. While Trinidad James came off like a less comedic version of Martin’s Jerome character, many of us socially conscious haters were more concerned about Interscope’s exploitation of Chief Keef’s troubled life. The fans came out strong in defense of the two and their labels hailed them as the future of rap music. However, haters were proven right when, A) Trinidad James revealed he’d been rapping for less than a year and admitted to making ignorant music because it sells, and B) poor Chief Keef got more publicity for his legal problems than for his music. To be clear, the hater in me hates what he portrays but sincerely hopes he gets his life together.
Of course, the haters are generally nothing more than concerned Hip Hop heads who love the culture and want to see rap music evolve and rise to new heights. We simply want to preserve the art of rap and defend it against those who misuse it, abuse it, exploit it, and disrespect it. Truth is, if it wasn’t for us so-called haters, tirelessly working to keep the spirit of Hip Hop alive, today’s rising stars like Kendrick Lamar wouldn’t even have the space to exist in. And for that, you can thank us haters!
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