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The progression

Hip-hop as an art form has come a long way

DJ Kun Luv: “It’s just entertainment.” Photo courtesy Facebook/Merc Photography

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The mid-1970s marked the birth of hip-hop, and ever since the artistic genre has expanded all around the world. Today there are many versions of hip-hop, but originally it came out as raw organic expression. Hip-hop continues to branch out, but in which way is mainstream hip-hop growing? Do we frown upon it? Or can we enjoy it? I sat down with a few people in the music business to figure it out.

In every mainstream hip-hop song there are two elements: a beat and lyrics. Today some artists think both of are losing quality. DJ Grim*US, an active DJ in the music game for 10 years, says this is because "(mainstream hip-hop artists) all use the same producers and the same sounds."

DJ Kun Luv, who has been in the music business 22 years, points out that, "Even when you had your Biggies and your Pac's, you know they had some positive songs."  

There is no doubt hip-hop is growing and expanding, but is it losing its roots? A question most, including local Tacoma producer DJ Phinesy, are tempted to ask of most mainstream hip-hop: "Is the motive the music, or is the motive the money?"

The big companies behind commercial hip-hop have changed how we perceive what hip-hop is as a genre. While there are people like DJ Grim*US who basically ignore mainstream music and listen to underground rap, there are also people like DJ Phinesy who think, "cross-over genre stuff is really cool." Phinesy says some mainstream rap can be "catchy from a producers point of view."

You also have people like DJ Kun Luv who enjoys all types of music and listens to it from a self-described "party point of view."

All three of these DJ's know one thing: Whatever is currently happening in mainstream hip-hop, it's just a trend that will eventually come and go. Even if people don't appreciate the current sounds or even the lyrics, we can all appreciate the progression of this loved music genre.

Perhaps most importantly, don't take the subject too personally. Like DJ Kun Luv says, "It's just entertainment."

The LION is an experimental arts journalism project run by youth from all around Pierce County in partnership with FAB-5. The aim is to provide youth with an outlet to explore and share about art related topics and issues within their community. This week marks the LION's final contribution to the Weekly Volcano.

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