You could easily say that 2016 was one of the best years for hip-hop in recent memory, but who had the BEST year? The contributors at Artistic Manifesto submitted their pick of which artist had the biggest 2016, and wrote a speech from that artist’s perspective. Now it’s up to you, the reader, to decide who should be the 2016’s President of Hip-Hop.
“Hip-hop… is dead.”
It’s that controversial, paralyzing phrase has been uttered by many Apple Music subscribers and SoundCloud surfers alike over the years. Even the great village elder Nasir bin Olu Dara echoed that very sentiment over a decade ago.
It would seem that many people believe that hope is lost. Is that true? While I say “no” for obvious reasons, I understand and empathize with the sentiment. It’s just as important to acknowledge that hip-hop isn’t perfect as it is to praise its shining successes.
You see folks, hip-hop is becoming more divided than ever. While we relish in the fact that Gucci Mane has lost weight and turned his life around, we have to simultaneously come to grips with the fact that children with beads in their hair masquerading as adults have taken it upon themselves to speak for a generation. We’ve allowed the Canadian who must not be named to bastardize countless regional influences without any legitimate repercussions. In this case, the Meek did not inherit the Earth.
You know, let some people tell it, hip-hop might actually be dead. But we’re not here to accept, tolerate, or ignore such pessimistic rhetoric. No. We’re here to prove to the world that hip-hop is here to stay. We’re here to uplift the hopeless with Sounwave production and Ali mixing/mastering. If these walls could talk, they’d scream, “we’re not finished!”
You see folks, this is why I’m here before you today. If Pirus and Crips all got along, they’d probably gun down the naysayers who seek to delegitimize the genre that’s told the stories of multiple oppressed generations. We must band together, and do just that. We can make this a reality. I stand before you today prepared to boldly lead that charge.
You might ask, who am I to lead such a charge? I’ll tell you. I’ve paid homage to my elders with my guest feature on A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Conrad Tokyo.” You saw me remain graceful despite being snubbed for Grammy Awards that were rightfully mine. I out-rapped Jay Z. I’ve walked on water with Beyoncé. I captivated the world with my ‘Untitled Unmastered‘ performances. Lil Mama has never successfully hopped on stage with me. I seek to bring that same level of passion and energy to the booth as the President of Hip-Hop.
I am immensely thankful to the city of Compton for giving me a key to the city, and I do not take the faith they have placed in me as I move forward to take this great responsibility to task.
Hip-hop: loving you is complicated, but it’s oh so necessary.
Hip-hop, I can feel your energy from two planets away.
Vote Kendrick Lamar for President of Hip-Hop 2017. Together, we can all remind ourselves of one thing. WE. GON. BE. ALRIGHT.