by Jake Espinoza
“Nobody visits the guy that keeps the body in his bedroom” Cage on Ballad of Worms.
My Snob Rap phase started while I was in high school. I’m not sure when it ended, and I honestly wasn’t aware that it had in fact come to an end until my good friend Andrew pointed out how surprised he was by my recent music selection.
I never would have had Cam’ron in my CD player four years ago.
For those who are not familiar with the term Snob Rap, it refers to a genre of hip hop whose fans look down at any form of hip hop that isn’t socially conscious and culturally respectful. Things that Snob Rappers/Rap Fans hate include: Soulja Boy, Cam’ron, BET, all major labels and Swag. Things that Snob Rap fans like include: 12-inch vinyl, spray paint cans, Sage Francis and backpacks.
I’m not sure who created the term Snob Rap, but I first heard it in an Onry Ozzborn song.
Growing up, my favorite rappers were fairly unknown by the general population. If you didn’t think Aesop Rock, Cage, MF DOOM, El-P, and Mr. Lif were the best rappers a live, I thought you were a fucking idiot. You didn’t appreciate REAL hip hop. Mob Rap, Bling Rap and the Hyphy Movement was garbage. I wanted to listen to Sage Francis.
My favorite artists all had extremely different styles, but what they had in common was being bored with the box major labels kept hip hop inside. What I liked most about them was that I learned something listening to their music. They were more than just people who kept the party moving. They were philosophers, teachers, historians and reporters. I learned a lot from the music, and I enjoyed it.
Somewhere things changed for me.
I still appreciate their music, but at this point in my life, if I want to learn something I listen to NPR or read a book, and if I’m going to listen to music I’m probably going to listen to some ignorant shit.
To put things in perspective for those of you with a general knowledge of independent hip hop culture, I have listened to Lil’ B Da Basedgod while driving by myself in my car. I’ve done it on more than one occasion, AND I was doing the cooking dance while I was listening. Swag.
Going from listening to Aesop Rock to Lil’ B Da Basedgod is like going from watching PI to watching Vampires Suck. Aesop Rock’s songs are like a library of witty/obscure pop culture references that come together and form a usually political driven and abstract piece of spoken word brilliance. Lil’ B raps about Hos being on his D*ck because of all of the different things he looks like.
I don’t think anyone would ever call Lil’ B a good rapper (most would call him a horrible rapper), but he is entertaining. Something that it is hard for Snob Rap fans to admit is that artists aren’t always trying to fit into their bubble of what they think it means to be dope.
Part of the problem for former Snob Rap fan is that people aren’t making good Snob Rap anymore. I can only listen to Aesop Rock’s None Shall Pass and Onry Ozzborn’s Dark Time Sunshine so many times. (Whatever happened to the album Aesop Rock was putting out on Rhymesayers anyway?)
There are a few exceptions of course (I really like Sole’s new mixtape for example), but I haven’t heard about some of my favorites in such a long time that I’m forced to assume that have regular jobs.
One aspect of hip-hop’s new generation I have especially enjoyed is watching the rebirth of lyricism (not in Lil’ B’s case). Artists like Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa and Tyler the Creator are all fundamentally good rappers. The fact that Mac Miller can make a hookless song catchy enough for a general population to enjoy is impressive. The fact that he can write a song that suggests being on his “Donald Trump Shit” is a good thing shows how completely different his fans are from ex-Snob Rap fans like me. (Donald Trump actually called Mac Miller the next Eminem in an interview.)
Donald Trump represents everything we were against, but kids everywhere today sing his name in praise.
A generation of artists watched their influences grow up broke and decided to take different path.
Today’s alternative rappers want and are winning VMAs.
Snob Rap is dead or I’m just ignoring it.