No I.D. gets real about hip-hop's identity now versus what it used to be.
No I.D. has quietly become one of the most decorated producers of the year. His heavy involvement with Jay-Z's 4:44 not only helped the rapper resurrect his music career in one fell swoop, but also earned him a total of five Grammy nominations earlier this week, including for Album of the Year and Record of the Year. However, while hip-hop culture had now taken over popular music as the biggest money maker in the business, the high-profile producer isn't necessarily feeling great about the widespread exposure that the genre is enjoying, especially when contrasted against the meaning that hip-hop music carried with it back in the day.
Speaking with Chicago blogger Andrew Barber, No. I.D. get to the heart of hip-hop culture's significance from its "golden years" and where it stands today, claiming that the gap between those two ideals has never been greater. “There's a miscommunication going on here," he stated. "I think what hip-hop was and what rap music is are two different things. I think the spirit of what hip-hop is and was and what rap music is, is totally different." He went to say that, while he considers music his spiritual savior, the culture that came attached to the tunes he loved has shifted to the point where he doesn't necessarily recognize it anymore.
"Hip-hop is what saved my life, not rap music," he said. "I just happen to rap, I happen to do a lot. I started as a DJ. I have a deep passion for this whole [culture]. Pop culture hijacked our thing and turned it into a way to get money, only, where nothing else matters.” It's an interesting distinction to make, and one that so-called "old heads" have been murmuring about for years now. It's not so much that the music being made isn't culturally significant, but it's establishing which culture that is that has become the more important issue.
If making money is rap's only goal now, then they're certainly accomplishing that, but in the same way that Hollywood can churn out CGI-drenched sequels that audiences agree can be pretty soulless, then maybe the same mistake is being made in the music industry as well. Coming from No I.D., who helped craft arguably the year's best album with a rapper that many considered to be over the hill, these thoughts carry some more weight to them, particularly as a lead-up to the Grammys, which go down in early 2018.
What do you think - is No I.D. on point or no? Have your say in the comments.