Do New Artists Lack Respect For Those Who Came Before Them?

December 16, 2014  |  

Many new artists representing for this generation reflect on the artists before them who paved the way and inspired them. Some even end up bonding and sparking a friendship with these musical forefathers (and mothers). There’s no better example of this ode to the old school and camaraderie with the new school than the relationship between J. Cole and Nas.

Many have likened J. Cole to Nas in terms of lyrical ability and fame. His track “Let Nas Down” wasn’t a diss record or an apology for making a song that Nasty Nas wasn’t feeling. It was simply a chance to speak on the pressures to make it in the rap game, sometimes at the expense of your art, and how the industry really hasn’t changed, regardless of when both men entered it. Nas could relate, and in turn, created the song “Made Nas Proud” to share his own bumpy road in the industry and to show his support.

This type of relationship between a man that many can coin a living legend and another who is definitely one of the brightest stars in hip-hop, is what I would like to see more of, especially from artists just breaking into music. You can’t simply kick open a window that was already opened for you and say you broke through all by yourself. Unfortunately, this respect between old and new artists isn’t necessarily shared across the board.

Say what you want, but Nicki Minaj owns the female rap game right now. She has critically acclaimed featured verses – even stealing shine from Jay Z and Kanye West on“Monster” when she was a rookie – and two big records with Beyoncé. She is, without a doubt, the current female rapper running things. Way before her, there was Lil Kim. And despite Kim rolling with the big boys, spitting raunchy lyrics that made your grandmother blush and putting her own stamp on hip-hop, Nicki ignores her resumé.

It’s not necessarily all Nicki’s fault. Lil Kim’s attempt to make a comeback by using Nicki’s name and beef with her sparked an underwhelming wave of diss tracks and songs at a time when the Barbz and the Ken dolls pined for the “Pills n Potions” rapper’s third studio album, The Pinkprint (in stores today). Lil Kim has certainly had her time on top, but she’s unwilling to make space for Nicki. The pettiness of their beef (which popped up again after Nicki did the “Flawless” remix a few months back), appears to be more of Kim trying to regain her place on top in an industry that has evolved without her.

Now Drake and Diddy are reportedly coming to blows over the “0 to 100” beat. Drizzy is every girl’s favorite rapper – word to K. Michelle – while Diddy is a rapper and business mogul who has worked with some of the greats and broke records. Snubbing the infamous Bad Boy head would be a bad idea for the careers of quite a few rappers. But with Drake near the top of hip-hop, he made it clear that he’s unbothered, and Diddy got physical in the end, telling Canada’s biggest star that “You’ll never disrespect me again.”

Regardless of Nicki and Drake’s success, a respect for those that blazed the path for them to come up is still necessary. They don’t necessarily have to care for them, but a simple nod to the old-school would suffice.

In that same respect, picking fights while desiring to have that “old thing” back is sad and unnecessary for the old-school stars. It would be more interesting to witness a collaboration between these artists rather than listen to them trade insults on wax (and punches at nightclubs). The records are never that great, nor do they seem authentic.

Good music is good music, and there is enough space on iTunes to celebrate the old and the new. So why can’t some of music’s biggest stars play nice?

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