Ready To Cry
This article is taken from ISSUE 02 of our print edition, see more and buy it here.
From bragging rights to Basedgod, we explore Hip-Hops emotional journey and ask can anything soundtrack this post-everything generation of ours?
There was a really interesting article in a recent issue of The Wire Magazine in which DJ Theo Parish recalls his youth and how Notorious BIG's debut album Ready To Die defined his generation. The article is a deep and harrowing read but it got me thinking would any hip hop movement or album be able to define this post-everything generation of ours? Could anything manage to encapsulate the feelings of this angst-filled, online generation that has everything, but longs for everything else? Hip hop was founded on emotion. It originally came to popularity because of social and racial tension on the streets of New York at the end of the 70s. Hip hop was rage filled and triumphant, and in many was it still is. But up until Biggie's Suicidal Thoughts, hip hop was more fuck the police, than fuck me and now this rage and angst that was once focused on 'the power' is focused internally. Hip hop is progressively making the change from emotion to just plain emo and now, as the world plummets into unknown territories, doomsday warning after doomsday warning, we seem to be finding solace and escape in these emotions.
Sadwave, vaporwave, post-Lil B, cloud rap, tumblrcore, or whatever you want to call it has taken over and could not be further removed from the standard hip hop stereotype. It's common knowledge that since the birth of hip hop, costly possessions and bragging rights forefront the topics of conversation. I mean, looking at the lyrics to Rappers Delight, it's basically a receipt. Hip hop tends to be boastful and egotistic by nature, whereas sadwave is almost the opposite. Sadwave goes beyond physical items, it's entirely about emotion and feeling. There is a loneliness and element of solitude in sadwave. You can't help but think, that the sole audience of this genre is just lonely kids on their Macbook airs, finding more happiness on forums and Facebook groups than they ever did in the playground, but I think it speaks beyond that. As a whole, I think we're tired of the same old thing. I find it hard to relate to the glitz and glamour of the MTV Yo Raps hip hop generation. But, the simple additions of a 'yung' or a 'lil' prefix is just the kind of relatable self-depreciation I can get involved with.
Sadwave is taking over with the help of people such as Lil B, Drake, Odd Future and Yung Lean, a 17 year old from Stockholm, Sweden whose group of producers, Djs and hype men are known as many names including the Sad Boys, Galaxy Boys, the Internet Explorer Boys and the Arizona Iced Out Boys. Crews like the Sad Boys and Odd Future are the personification of the unsatisfied youth of today. Their music waves upon the lines of nostalgia overload and pure escapism. They talk about depression and self loathing amongst everyday things like breakfast cereal and cycling bikes, while kittens and donuts grace their album covers. Tyler, The Creator's first album is set entirely in his therapists office to whom he's confessing every little self loathing detail, Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris is so full of emotional lyrics that he kind of pokes fun at it in it's intro, in which Vince Staples tells him 'don't nobody care about how you feel, we want raps, nigga. Raps', and Yung Lean's got lyrics like 'when the neon lightning strikes and then I'm on the floor crying, crying. Why do I gotta be alive. I ain't about that life I ain't bout that life'. It's pretty clear that this stuff is not like most hip hop.
Lil B, the Basedgod, is arguably the reason why sad wave is now everywhere. Lil B runs the internet, spreading positivity through Twitter, putting out mixtapes on his many Myspace accounts and assembling a following known as the Taskforce Bitchmob. What kind of crew refers to themselves as Bitchmob? One that's beyond the strict stereotypings of hip hop. Lil B is the extreme, encompassing all things sadwave with amazing lyrics like, 'Shouts out to my mom, I love you. Yes, you can cry to this. Yes, I love you too' and for that I thank you Basedgod.
Whilst Drake has made what I'm assuming is a more than comfortable living rapping about girls he 'almost had', sadwave isn't all just self hatred and wishing you were luckier in love. There's actually something unifying about being openly sad. Though it may seem gimmicky, it doesn't quite make sense until you're in the middle of a room full of pumped up teenagers screaming 'I got an empire of emotions' as an 808 kicks. Arizona Iced Tea, Gatorade, Pokémon cards and Optimus Prime aren't the first things that come to mind when you think of childhood in Sweden, but Yung Lean and his posse of Sad Boys are proof that individual localised childhoods are pretty hard to come by. Being part of the beautiful internet generation that we live in, their references are global. We may not have all grown up in America, but we've all been sad at some point or another. We share these childhoods with so many others, via social media, on demand Pokemon on Netflix and the common heart ache of Murakami novels and Zoey Deschanel movies. Sadwave is the feeling of unity through emotion, and at time when the lines between emoji's and emotions are blurred, that simple difference in spelling can either make all the difference, or none at all.
And in this new found unity, there is positivity, whether it's brought on by the elements of escapism or the fact that it's actually fun, whether you enjoy it ironically or not you decide. But, with sadwave, it's almost like the weight of the world is being lifted off your shoulders, further and further the more and more you do the cooking dance. The future is uncertain, but together we'll be ok.
- Text by Shane Gormley