The Hip Hop Sound is Slowly But Surely Changing, Here’s Why…



The Hip Hop Sound Is Changing - Rhyme Hip Hop
Kendrick Lamar & Chance The Rapper

Rap, the fastest growing genre of today.

You and I both know that original 2000’s rap flow that is still present today. But, you and I also know how many of the biggest artists are switching up this “Rap” flow in it’s entirety. So, why is this happening, and where did it go? I’m here to tell you exactly why the Hip Hop sound is changing and where it’s headed.

The classic “hard beat” fan knows that’s the only kind of rap, listening to classic trap music from artists like Young Thug, Future, and Meek Mill. As we progress though, even these artist’s beats and sounds are slowly but surely changing. The fast paced rap from artists like Eminem is starting to be seen as a lower tier of rap, which I think is 100% due to the changing sound in rap.

Okay okay, now fast forward to the past few years, where has the sound been going? The sound is literally changing as we speak with this new sound that has some but none of these “trap beats” to mix in with the new flow. Who is already on this path? Well for one, we see Kendrick Lamar, the most critically acclaimed “Hip Hop” artist already here. I put quotations around “Hip Hop” because it is crazy but some people would not agree he’s in the Hip Hop genre after his new sound. Kendrick released Section .80 back in 2011 just to prove where he was going in Hip Hop. It’s crazy because this was not even his breakout album, nor was it anything to write home about in a “trap beat” fan’s book. Section .80 consisted of two components:

  1. Give everyone something they want to hear
  2. Let me show what I am really going to bring to Hip Hop with these new sounds

That’s right, even back in 2011 Kendrick was making these new sounds on songs like “Ronald Reagan Era”, “HiiiPoWeR”, and “F*** You Ethnicity”, Kendrick brings this new flow. Back in 2011 when Section .80 dropped, Kendrick still hadn’t found himself through Section .80. These beats were still not up to par with what he truly wanted to bring to the game. Many of the general population hated on this album whilst the critics were going nuts over this sound no one had EVER heard in “Hip Hop”.

Now fast forward to 2012, Kendrick’s breakout album is about to drop. Then, BAM, Good Kid m.A.A.d City is in rotation almost worldwide. This album had the general population going crazy, but the critics were still somewhat iffy. Kendrick took a break from this “new sound” and went back to something a little more “rappy”, a sound he could rap over. Kendrick knew this is what he needed to reach the general population, which he successfully did. However, Kendrick knew that there was MUCH more to come, and was knew exactly what he was going to say on his next studio album. Kendrick’s next album, To Pimp A Butterfly, is one of the sole reasons I am making this post. To Pimp A Butterfly would show to be one of the most revolutionary albums in Hip Hop history, and it’s only a year old.

Kendrick Lamar To Pimp A Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp A Butterfly”

When To Pimp A Butterfly came in in 2015, the general public was expecting something just like Good Kid m.A.A.d City. Instead, they got one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time. With a 4.5 rating on Billboard, a 96% Metacritic rating, a 9.3 rating on Pitchfork, and a whopping 9.9 rating on Rhyme, Kendrick finally found himself. But, what makes this album so great anyways? Most of the public hated on it for its Jazzy feel and weird sounds that just weren’t Hip Hop. Well that’s exactly it. This is the new Hip Hop. But who exactly would be to follow?

More and more artists are following this path. For every time an artist follows this “Jazzy” path of Hip Hop, another one joins in. Best part is that each rapper has something different to bring to the game. Take Vince staples for example, a small rapper out of Long Beach California where Vince hardly knew what the rap game was. He clicked on almost INSTANTLY with his very first studio album, Summertime ’06.

Vince Staples Summertime '06
Vince Staples “Summertime ’06”

Now with another different feel, the critics went crazy. Ranking in at the second best Hip Hop album of the year on, Vince Staples clicked right off the bat. It took the Norf Side Long Beach rapper only ONE studio album to find EXACTLY where the rap game is headed.

So, what exactly is this “new sound” and how does it feel. I explained these albums so you can hear exactly what I am talking about. The next years are going to have this new feel. With less hard kicks in the beat and more true snare sounds mixed with a softer bass and some killer lyrical soundtracks, the new Hip Hop is here. Some will follow the new trend while some will lay back and continue to make commercially produced beats. This however is not always up to the artist. Take Logic for example, who was able to strike a deal with Def Jam in just 3 classical mixtapes. Logic was able to get a great deal that would still give him creative rights as an artist and is still able to make great music that his fans want to hear through his independent label Visionary Music Group.

The new sound follows a new trend that desires a Jazzy feel and is even mixed with some acoustic rock and some classical strings. Cowbells, snares, soft cymbals, and regular drum beats are all what makes up the new Hip Hop. Some fans will like, the others will continue to listen to processed beats that are only made specifically for the radio. You will not see these new beats on the radio for quite some time.

Next we have the great Chicago rapper, Chance The Rapper. If you haven’t already, listen to his new tape Coloring Book. His new tape follows exactly what this new genre is going to include. Many of you have heard his free mixtape that Chance did with Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment called Surf. Sure, there was no “bangers” but here’s what made it so great: most would not consider this Hip Hop whilst the critics beg to differ and still make this album a Hip Hop album. Surf is a terrific album with all the said components of the new Hip Hop sound. Next, Chance dropped Coloring Book, another studio mixtape that would follow the said components. Chance is all about doing his own thing, and this is what Chance has to offer to the table. Coloring Book is a mixture of some trippy beats fused with a talented lyrical voice that explains exactly why Chance is headed in this direction of Hip Hop.

Chance The Rapper Coloring Book
Chance The Rapper “Coloring Book”

Chance’s fierce style over some of the greatest production in Hip Hop is exactly what makes Chance so great on his newest album. Coloring Book is starting to make even those small listener Hip Hop go-ers to see why Hip Hop is taking a turn.

In conclusion, Hip Hop is the fastest growing genre of 2016 and is starting to spread to even other genres. The reason for the switch is this: Artist want to be themselves and make their own sounds, so each rapper is trying to be different and make a production that will be remembered while still under the genre of Hip Hop & Rap. They want listeners to literally think and be like “What did I just listen to?” This new style is making the critics go crazy while slowly luring in Hip Hop fans who are down for something fresh and to go back to Hip Hop’s roots while maintaining a great production.

Featured Image By Jon Elbaz [CC BY 2.0 (], & By The Come Up Show [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons