Nothing new under the sun except performance

I am by no means a rap genius, but it is evident the culture of influence is strongest in this genre of music.

From Drake allegedly “jacking” D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha” for “Hotline Bling,” to PARTYNEXTDOOR sampling Miguel on “Break from Toronto,” to the beginning of Tyler the Creator’s “Buffalo” sounding a lot like Pusha T’s “Numbers on the Board,” it’s clear ideas — and beats — are recycled in the rap and hip-hop community.

At the root, this community glorifies authenticity.

If you can do something different, you’re a legend. Don’t get me wrong, the greats should be honoured in their own right, but how is Kanye West rapping about his job, his mom or his break up any different than what’s been done before?

The ability to transform a body of work and make it your own, no matter where it came from, is what should be celebrated

It’s not the creativity of the idea that should be focused on, but rather how it can be transcended in creative ways.

Put simply, how can a recycled idea be put forth so it fits the mold and persona of an artist? Whether it’s through production or how a song is staged, performativity is the opportunity to show uniqueness.

When the public found out about Drake’s ghostwriter — which he didn’t intentionally hide — this past summer, the majority instead looked forward to his new ‘diss tracks’ for Meek Mill because there is an understanding that both individuals are different. Although it was co-written, there would have been a stark difference between Quentin Miller and Drake performing “Know Yourself.”

Even listening to Miguel’s “Girl with the Tattoo” being placed in “Break from Toronto” ultimately changes the vibe of the song and allows PARTYNEXTDOOR to claim it as his own.

Yes, there is a fine line between homage and imitation and I’m not going to claim I know every single example of “swagger jacking.”

That would imply I’ve listened to every single rap and hip-hop record ever created. But with proper execution, it is more interesting to see how something old can be transformed into something new.

Logic, a rapper from Maryland, recently released his sophomore album titled The Incredible True Story.

At the root, this community glorifies authenticity.

The album got better reviews than his previous work, but many were unable to overlook the fact some aspects sounded too much like other rappers. I don’t blame them, as the nature of this culture holds the value that even a slight resemblance merits dissent. As a fan with fully-intended bias, I didn’t think much of it, as so much of his personality was finally expressed in this album. Being a witness to his development as an artist, I stand by the notion that influence will eventually lead to the discovery of your own style.

The ability to transform a body of work and make it your own, no matter where it came from,  is what should be celebrated rather than avoided. If we were to discredit all art work inspired from someone or somewhere else, then we’d have nothing left. Rap has evolved in so many ways. As much as the past should be honoured, I look forward to what’s ahead, as stating that “90s hip-hop was the best” or “what has rap come to these days” only closes you off to the potential of upcoming artists. Before you pass on any judgements on who did what first, give the artist a chance.

They might surprise you.

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