Greg Simms says thugs are done in hip-hop. Here’s why.
The reason the “Thug” persona in hip-hop is dying on the vine (at least currently) is because:
1. The President Obama Effect.
2. will.i.am and Flo Rida killed it.
3. Major music labels don’t want to support it.
In 2008, when Barack Obama won the Presidency, it shattered (for the most part) the glass ceiling that had always been there for people of color. A certain segment of America felt helpless and powerless, so thugging out and trapping, for some, became a way of life. It was all about survival and survival of the fittest in America’s inner cities. When Obama won the election, that feeling of hopelessness, of being disenfranchised, had largely been dulled. People of color, especially young men of color, saw the new possibilities that came with President Obama’s election. They saw that thew didn’t have to stay in the Trap. Young people saw that, for the first time in this country’s history, a Black male could be who he wanted to be. That’s why in 2008-2009, you saw the thug caricature go by the wayside. That’s why you stopped seeing spinners on cars (nationwide). That’s why Drake could become a star in 2009. To many young Black men and women, there was now an alternate life to Thug Life.
Back in 2009, when “Boom Boom Pow”was released by the Black Eyed Peas, I said to my friends in the media and the music industry, “They (the Peas) just dropped the new ‘Aint Nothin’ But A G-Thang’ for millenials”. I knew it. I wrote about it here, and here. They created a hip-pop song that had just enough hip-hop and an EDM beat that not only had that “world beat” feel, but the fast pace of it mirrored the pace and the bio-rhythms of today’s youth. “Boom Boom Pow” was more than a hit, it was a game changer. This was what young audiences wanted. They didn’t want music that was menacing. They wanted something that was fun. The women, the girls got tired of OJ da Juiceman. They wanted Will I Am and his crew. They wanted Flo Rida. I know…the very mention of Flo Rida causes hip-hop purists to run through plate glass windows in agony. But, once again, Flo knows the biggest current audience for hip-hop is women. Which is why he stays winning. Your favorite Trap God may drop street heat,and keep the blogs buzzing, but all Flo does is drop anthems and break digital downloading records (he’s done it twice in his still short career).
Lastly, here’s a newsflash for fans of gully rap music: Gucci Mane has been dropped from Atlantic Records. For those who didn’t know, Atlantic finally got tired of the Lean drinking, Twitter beefing Gucci. Not only was this a big deal for the obvious reasons, it was also big because hit shows that major labels just have no patience any longer for at-risk rappers. If you don’t believe me, read this brilliant story. Labels just don’t have the money nor time to devote to keeping unstable artists in line. Think of it this way: If you’re a label head, you most likely don’t have to worry about Drake’s safety while he’s out on tour. Or on a weekend on the town (unless Chris Brown is around). Drake is level headed, articulate, and smart. On the other hand…you may sweat bullets (pun soooo not intended) while worrying about Chief Keef. I’m not talking about the rappers who have a thug image but a brilliant business mind. I’m talking about the rappers who may actually have never left the Trap. Let’s be honest…at this point, you have to hope Keef doesn’t get shot…or shoot somebody. That kinda kills (I intended that pun) the business model.
Mainstream hip-hop hasn’t been aimed at guys since the late ’90s, early 2000s Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella, Murder Inc heyday. I’m betting things won’t change anytime soon.
Originally published at The Examiner.