Hello everyone and welcome to the first post of the greatest new hip hop blog on the internet, HUNGRY HIPPOPOTAMUS. My name is Corey aka C-Bo aka the Hungry Hungry Hippo himself, and this site is a forum for me to vent all my thoughts and opinions about the state of the rap game. I’ll post new music, old music, reviews, thinkpieces, and whatever I find interesting. And there is a lot that’s interesting right now. Hip hop is in a glorious place, with last year being the best year for the genre since its golden years in the 90’s. The internet has allowed a lot of new types of rapper to emerge and connect with each other, and after some rough years in the beginning of “blog rap” era, a new generation of talent is blooming right before our eyes. To be a fan of the genre now is like it must have been to be a fan of rock and roll in the 60’s. Great albums, incredible debuts, and awesome tours every month! There’s a lot happening, and if you blink you’ll miss it.
Going to college in L.A. and growing up in the Bay Area, my heart is firmly secured in the west coast. N.W.A. and Dr. Dre was what pulled me into the genre, and while I love music from every region of the country, my favorite still lies in any hip hop that can capture the top down, sunny feeling of California. But growing up listening to this music creates some complications for any white Jewish kid taking cues from The Chronic. A while back I visited my friend in South Central L.A., the birthplace of gangsta rap. Driving past street signs, I nerded out. Crenshaw! Inglewood! These are the places from all my favorite songs, a world come to life in front of me that before I only heard about. A week ago, I had a similar experience. I was in Beverly Hills walking around, and I nerded out again. Gucci! Prada! Givenchy! It was a Kanye West song brought to life, stores and boutiques that, again, I had only heard about in the rap world.
I’m in the middle of those two worlds, as is most of the hip hop fanbase. You can hear it in the music too. It’s how you get a former child tv star to make a song called “Started From The Bottom” and have it be a huge hit AND a resonant theme, to people of all creeds and backgrounds. What that doesn’t mean is that it is ok to voyeur around in these worlds and ignore the real pain and struggle that created the music. I have no intention of treating South Central as a fantasy land and ignore the real problems that Ice Cube and Eazy-E talked about. On the other side, it’s not ok to ball out to Kanye and Jay-Z’s wall street rhymes and toss aside all the critiques they’re making of the american system or racism or their own personal path to that success. This kind of thinking ends up with rappers like Chief Keef overshadowing the actual youth violence in Chicago. It’s something that I have to constantly be on my toes about.
What’s great about hip hop is that this duality is always present in the genre. The dreams and the nightmares. The drug kingpins dizzying rise and destructive fall. The good kid in the mad city. That’s always been there and that speaks to everyone. It’s a human emotion and a human struggle, not specifically for a certain race or class. What’s spectacular about rap now is that is speaking in a universal way that my generation can personally relate to. The excess of fun and the pain of recession. It’s surrounding us in pop culture, with different mediums portraying how my generation creates artificial happiness to dealing with it all. MDMA, Molly, Ritalin, 1% extravagance. You have Kendrick Lamar diagnosing the entire generation with ADHD saying they can’t be happy without drugs, and proclaims death to Molly at the end of his music videos. You have Danny Brown, the Adderal Admiral, addicted to drugs but creating concept albums devoted to the feeling of the crash. You have movies like Spring Breakers and The Great Gatsby, showing the failings of living in the party forever. Every generation has its vices and its cultural stigma. The hippies had their LSD and Vietnam, the Yuppies had cocaine and Reagonomics, and we have Molly and Skrillex. And no cultural medium is getting the experience of what its like to be a young adult living RIGHT NOW like hip hop. It’s fascinating, and its growing, and I’m going to write about it. Stay tuned for hopefully more interesting things.