The 90s was the placeholder for creative gold coming into formation. Rappers such as, Jay-Z, OutKast, Fugees and others became domineering forces associated with hip hop. But only one above named rapper, Jay-Z, would maintain relevance in hip hop.
Often politically charged, humanist rappers are labeled a “conscious rapper.” The first successful group, De La Soul, progressively changed the perception of “hip hop noise” by adding soul. The hip hop culture young and effervescent bubbled in new areas of media. Television shows such as, A Different World, Martin and Living Single captured the “pro-black” style worn by a culture. Hip hop gave leverage to young film makers like, Spike Lee and John Singleton, creating an untapped market following the conscious rappers direction. The lyric by De La Soul, “Black medallions, no gold,” or culture before money was the unofficial mantra. The jazz inclined rhyme speakers would unintentionally initiate a trend followed by young rappers like, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, and more. These rappers sustained a positive dialogue with rhymes uplifting people.
Today we are reminded of the prophetic times through artists; such as, Lupe Fiasco, Common, and Jay Electronica. However, most of the “good for your soul, hearty rappers” are unsigned artists packaged and sold through the internet (blogs, etc) or the new-age underground.
The unwritten rule seems to be if you’re a fan of Jay-Z you can’t be a fan of Nas. But, what is expected from a culture learned by competition? Hip hop introduced itself in cipher battles in the park and “repping your block.” This may have founded the tradition, but it does not have to define a culture. Some argue the industry; others argue the fans are at fault. But, clinging to one side does not bring the return of an era so golden. The conscious rapper died when cultural unity subsided.