Why Punk is Dead and Hip-Hop Lives On

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Let’s take it back to 1995: The Offspring and Green Day have both been certified multi-platinum with their smash hit albums (see what I did there?) Smash and Dookie, respectively; but so have 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G.

Fast forward 20 years: hip-hop still dominates consumers listening time, remaining a major force in mainstream music, both in terms of popularity and influence. While it’s a struggle enough to simply think of a relevant rock band in 2015, or even a rock-based band, there is not a single mainstream punk band to be discovered.

Let’s consider why it is the case that hip-hop has remained relevant for so many years:

Hip-hop is more diverse, incredibly so, and has far greater, and broader, appeal, both culturally and musically. Further, hip-hop is not just historically innovative, it’s continuing to be so.

There is a distinct lack of innovation in punk music, which is simply not the case in hip-hop. In the ‘70’s when punk started, it was a reaction to the mainstream music that came before it. As such, there was a huge variety of approach to the style, as it was all new, that was simply tied together by a general aesthetic. In the ‘90’s, however, when punk became mainstream in the US, it became far more common for bands to “bite” off each others sound (to use some hip-hop lingo).

Here are 5 well-known punk bands from the ‘70s: The Damned, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, Crass, Ramones. These bands all sound quite different from one another.

Here are 5 well-known punk bands from the ‘90s: Pennywise, Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, The Offspring. Clearly, these bands share a lot of common threads, sound-wise.

Here are 5 well-known current rap artists: Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, XXXTentacion, Childish Gambino, Lil Pump. Then of course there are lesser known rap artists doing wildly different things: Danny Brown, Death Grips, Vince Staples, clipping..

Hip-hop is currently offering an astounding amount of variety. These artists feature unique, fresh sounds and have a cultural and even political impact that is currently unparalleled by any other genre, and now more than ever, hip-hop is a very inclusive genre.

Hip-hop is literally an amalgamation of sounds and influence. Punk is circularly referencing itself. The generally elitist attitude of punk fans certainly isn’t helping either. Making it so that more innovative bands that could otherwise be described as punk are written off as not punk is a great way to ensure a slow death.

To quote Tech N9ne’s “This is Hip Hop”:

This is hip hop it’s country, jazz and r&b in its pop
It’s rock and roll and never will it stop
So ain’t to way you stoppin this hip-hop-hip-hop

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