“They say we making drug user music, like making drug seller music is better.”
Atlanta MC 21 Savage is one of the biggest rappers in the game right now, but even he is sensitive to the way the older generation of rappers talks about modern hip-hop. Today, he decided to speak out. The Slaughter Gang MC shared a lengthy note on Twitter taking “OG rappers” to task for their criticism of the state of rap in 2017.
In his note, he says that the “drug user” music of today isn’t any different than the “drug dealer” music of the ‘80s and ’90s, and notes that artists are just reflecting what’s going on in the communities they grew up in:
— Saint Laurent Don (@21savage) November 21, 2017
It seems that 21 was responding to tweets like this, which echo a popular meme:
The generation gap on the music is actually really simple…we were in a era making drug dealer music…these kids are making drug user music. 🤷🏾♂️
— Mad Skillz (@SkillzVa) November 19, 2017
There’s been a lot of conversation around the content of modern hip-hop on social media over the past few days. Legendary producer Pete Rock, who has often spoken out against so-called mumble rap, got into a war of words with Waka Flocka Flame on November 18 over drug use in rap music. Under an Instagram picture of Waka Flocka Flame, Pete Rock wrote:
Im gonna defend my older heads and tell you your not equal. Be as disrespectful as you want. Your not doing what we did, havent accomplished what we accomplished. Our generation didn’t experiment with pills or syrup or anything synthetic. Its already written in history. Rock n Roll hall of fame, hip-hop hall of fame and museums. Where are you at in any of that? The problem is y’all never had respect from the jump. WE ARE THE REASON YOUR WHO YOU ARE AND DO WHATEVER IT IS YOUR DOING! Pay homage to who was before you. Problem is also y’all want us to accept music that don’t move nothing but the young, when you making music its to inspire everyone not just your era.
Waka responded by saying Pete Rock was stuck in the past.
21’s message about ‘70s and ’80s rappers doing cocaine also has several reference points. Grandmaster Melle Mel’s 1983 song “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” was one of rap’s earliest anti-drug PSAs, but as Questlove revealed in a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, it was more than a little hypocritical. “I later found out that Mel was still caught up in the white madness while doing his vocals,” he said. “That, to me, is the craziest. Cocaine was a hell of a drug.”
Other early rappers like Kurtis Blow and Kool Rock-Ski also directly referenced coke in their stage names. Coincidentally, Chance The Rapper recently mocked this exact topic in his Saturday Night Live skit, which compared the look and lyrics of SoundCloud rappers to early hip-hop groups:
Yesterday, 21’s “rockstar” collaborator Post Malone also grabbed headlines for suggesting that fans looking for “real shit” steer clear of modern hip-hop.
Clearly, rap’s generational divide doesn’t appear to be healing itself.
Read his whole note above and catch up on the lyrics to his biggest hits on Genius now.