Music has recently been at an all-time high, especially in 2018. While 2017 held a lot of great releases, none stood out more than the hip-hop entries. With albums such as DAMN, Ctrl, Big Fish Theory, 4:44, Flower Boy, and Culture it would seem like a difficult year to surpass, however, 2018 has ultimately proved its importance while still having months to spare. 2018 has become one of the most crucial years when it comes to hip-hop due to the sheer quantity of projects created and the increase in quality that has been put into each of these projects. Rappers, singers, songwriters, and producers have put immense time and energy into creating each and every song, mixtape, and album so far this year. With releases from almost every relevant artist to new talent climbing the ranks, 2018 has potentially become the best year in music so far.
Relevancy, in hip-hop, is possibly the most important component in regards to success. Remaining relevant in the modern era isn't as easy as it seems, due to the escalation of new rappers coming from the internet. While new rappers are seemingly remaining relevant longer, it's becoming increasingly difficult for older and more experienced rappers to keep up with the influx of new artists. While some have accepted this and have switched to other careers, a small pocket of older artists are fighting back to remain relevant and successful. So far in 2018, there have been new albums from rap legends such as Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Eminem who are attempting to bring their knowledge, flow, and success into the new era of rap. As the year's pass, these rappers have aged and adapted in order to remain relevant while still having their roots and talent intact.
While the older generation is making an educated and calculated effort to stay relevant, the newer generation is much more wild and carefree when it comes to their talent, fame, and success. The newer era is a lot edgier and lucrative than what has been seen in the past. However, there is a group of rappers who stand in the middle of old and new and have different viewpoints and ideologies from the two eras. Rappers such as J.Cole, Drake, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, and Logic have all come out with albums this year as well. This unique group of rappers tend to very rarely cross the lines of old or new in terms of sound and lyricism. A majority of this middle generation has become accustomed to their sound and style and only seek to further improve upon it. While old rappers and new rappers fight for the spotlight, this middle generation is succeeding commercially and critically. With this fighting triad of old, middle, and new generations of rap, rap is perhaps at its most competitive and important state.
As 2018 only has a few more months left, it is imperative to recognize the competition and differences that are occurring in the industry on a daily basis. Smaller artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, are now attempting to take shots at the legends such as Eminem and gain some form of clout from it. However, while it didn't end well for him, the dichotomy of generations is rapidly growing to new heights. While some of the older generations have decided to take some of the newer artists under their wing, others simply detest the new generation and everything they're associated with. If this trend continues into 2019, it will be expected that next year could perhaps be a year that the number of projects from the hip-hop industry increase immensely. 2018 once again shows that as technology and accessibility improves, so will the amount of competition that solidified rappers will face.
Anthony Bradley is a contributing music blogger for CSUITEMUSIC
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