Hip-hop is extremely special to me, and I love it more than anything. But one thing I noticed about this genre and its listeners comparing it to other genres such as rock and r&b, is that the bar for excellence changes so much over the years. One thing that bothers me about this and with fans is that the fans are so extremely passionate about the genre, sometimes to a fault. What I mean by that is the overuse of the word “classic”. Allow me some time to explain please.
If you use any sort of social media I’m sure if you’ve seen it. An album comes out by ANY rapper on a Thursday night, and before the night is over, the fans are calling it “classic”. And boy oh boy is it troubling and down right annoying. I’ll litter a few examples in here. About a month Jaden Smith released his highly anticipated SYRE album. Solid body of work from a young kid who still has room to grow. But sure enough when it was released, hours later, the fans on Twitter were calling it a classic album. What pissed me off about this is that I hadn’t even gotten a chance to listen to the album yet. I know what you’re saying to yourself. “But JORDAN, you’re just being a hater! But JORDAN, what about instant classics?! What do YOU think is a classic?” Allow me to explain the issue with calling everything “classic”.
There are VERY few “instant classic” albums. Period. Let’s get that out the way. How does one define a classic? Does it define a sound, a year or even an ERA? Is it high quality music? An album with absolutely no skips? Is it about time and longevity? Is it about numbers? Is it a mixture of all of those? Well the short answer is yes. Albums such as the Wu-Tang Clan’s “36 Chambers“, Nas’ “Illmatic“, Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” and Kanye West’s “College Dropout” are held in such a high regard and are called undisputed classics because they have some sort of beautiful mixture of all of the aforementioned qualities in them.
“Okay Jordan, so what’s the problem?”
Well the problem comes when the rappers and fans sling the term around so much. The word “classic” should be reserved for art that earns it. I know I’m not anyone to be telling people what they can and can’t think is classic, but the genre begins to get watered down when everything that comes out is considered classic before we even give it a chance to breathe. Listeners don’t even bother to digest the album good before asking for more music. Rappers (most of them, anyway) work extremely hard to give us product to listen to and people should learn to love and live with an album before the slap a label on it and move on to the next work. Listeners are fans of rappers and people, such big fans that they will do anything to put that rapper on a pedestal with other top tier artists that have multiple classics under their belts. Example? Don’t mind if I do.
I am the biggest fan of Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick, Drake and others like them consistently give their fans quality albums every couple of years. But they have risen to astronomical levels of superstardom to the point where anything they drop is put on that level of “classic” because they’re so well loved and fans want one to be better than the others. Hip-hop is by far the most hyper competitive genre, period, and no other genre pits their stars against each other like rap does. Don’t even get me started with Kanye West’s stans.
Calling everything a classic is really watering down something that should be special. There is nothing wrong with appreciating an album while we have it before moving on to the next. This is why I love when rappers take their time with the music and don’t rush the product. And let’s be honest, trolling or not, nothing can be a classic before you finish listening to it. That’s silly! By the time y’all finish reading this…let me guess…”CLASSIC”.
…..Y’all are aware that this is just my opinion, right…?