Why Don't People Like Being Labelled A "Rapper" Anymore?
There is something I am starting to realise in this ever-evolving culture we're in. It's happening more in the US than anywhere else but still, it's something I am noticing. I'm not quite sure whether it is a negative or a positive, so this will largely consist of you, the reader, walking through my mind and hopefully, by the end, we will have a clearer picture.
Recently I saw a DJ Booth article where Juice WRLD (of "Lucid Dreams" fame) said that he doesn't want to be labelled a rapper. And it got me thinking. The label of "Rapper" is becoming less embraced than it used to.
Back in the day, you either used the word "Rapper" or "MC". That was it, if you spit bars, those were the labels you'd get. Even then you could split those two and add your own connotations to them. "MC" obviously came first because the MC was second fiddle to the DJ. Then, once the MC started to take centre stage, the lexicon changed to Rapper.
But that was then, this is now.
Now, we are seeing the label "Rapper" as a diluted term. When it used to be a very loaded term, it's now a common denominator for artists. If you read my previous article on how rapping has become "The Wave", you'll know that everybody is taking advantage of the popularity Hip-Hop has now as a genre. It is mainstream, it's a fact. People started calling Beyonce & Rihanna "Rappers" in the past couple of years.
With that said, it's interesting why people that can rap and have been logged as "Rappers", say explicitly that they're not Rappers or don't want to labelled as one. Is it strictly because the machine is catching up? "EVERYBODY CAN RAP THESE DAYS." Or maybe because "Rap is Pop Music", the many many pop songwriters are actually Rap writers now? Maybe the "Rap is Pop" narrative is becoming so prevalent, people are actively seeking to be contrarians? Which brings me to my next point. Something that I'm a culprit of.
Using different terminology to describe people.Labelling, we all do it. We, as a species need to label things so it makes life that little bit easier. Now that rapping has become a larger pool, being a "Rapper" isn't enough. You can see where i'm going with this. Are you a lyricist? That's my one. Lyricist. I only say "Rapper" when you add something to go before it.
"Trap" Rapper, "Drill" Rapper. "Mumble" Rapper... (For the record, I try to refrain from the last one.) It's not enough to be called a "Rapper" now.
Now you can see that as a positive, as I've leaned towards so far. Or, you can see it from a negative light. Why don't they want to be labelled as "Rappers"? Why do they want to be called "Musicians" or "Rockstars"? Rockstars don't even call themselves Rockstars anymore! That stigma is still there. You see "Rapper" and you just think they spit bars, little do you know that some of these Rappers are the best poets of this Century. And because of that, people want to be labelled as something more respectable.
And I think that there is the crux of it all. Before I make this last point, I want to say it didn't come from me, thanks to Deacon (who's interview with me you can read soon) who said that the Rappers of the previous generations sacrificed so the Rappers of today can call themselves musicians and artists. Even if you don't see rappers like Juice WRLD as anything more than that, they have the right to dream big. Those labels are a step up and regardless of what you think about Hip-Hop music, I can tell you that Hip-Hop has evolved so much that, in some cases, it truly holds artistic merit and isn't just rap.
Always remember, rapping is only one Element of Hip-Hop and you can only take that so far. It was only a matter of time before rappers pushed the boundaries to the point where they deserve to call themselves "Artists".