Today’s Hip Hop Scene is Boring: We Need More Eccentric Artists Embracing the Fringe and Breaking Free from Conformity

April 10, 2023

Hip hop, as a genre, has always been known for its innovation and boundary-pushing nature. From its origins in the streets of New York City to its global dominance today, hip hop has continuously evolved and adapted, breaking free from the norm and challenging the status quo. And at the heart of this evolution are the eccentric artists who dare to be different, pushing the fringe boundaries and refusing to conform to mainstream trends. I remember as a kid seeing Andre 3000 on TV for the first time, I couldn’t figure out if dude was Hip Hop or what he wore for the video was just part of the costume, the entire aesthetic was outside of the norm to what I was used to seeing, but nonetheless, I was excited to find out more. Fast forward to some years later, Lil Uzzi Vert blows up the scene, and once again I couldn’t figure out what “box” to put him in because he came in with something totally different. So why is today’s Hip Hop scene so mundane and bland? Is it the fan’s fault for not supporting artists pushing boundaries? An example of this is the reaction Yachty received following the release of his multi-layered project, “Let’s Start Here”. His core fanbase has not been receptive of the new direction he took with this album and have expressed how they want the “old” Yachty back. Could this be why most artists fail to break boundaries and rather play it safe? Maybe we can look at the record execs and labels that want to package artists so they can be “radio friendly” and have streamable music? With the rise of TikTok & Instagram Reels, more artists are starting to sound factory produced because they’re chasing that oh so important 15sec that’ll make them go viral, and record labels capitalise on this.

One of the most powerful aspects of hip hop is its ability to serve as a platform for self-expression and social commentary. Looking at artists like Tyler The Creator, it’s not shocking to see the respect and notoriety they’ve received over the years because of how they’ve never followed formulaic routes like most artists. Yes, it may take a long time to reach the top when you’re going against the grain, but the hard work eventually pays off. One of the recent exciting artists to emerge and be a global star is Doja Cat. Doja’s artistry is intentional, experimental and unconventional to say the least. Her breakout song “Moo” had the riled up the internet sphere with many traditional journalists not knowing how to react to her eccentric style. She broke barriers and continues to do so while in her own lane.

So as Hip Hop is turning 50 this year, why is it hard to find groundbreaking artists who change the status quo these days? Personally I haven’t heard any new sound emerge within the genre and it all sounds the same, which is worrying because the world has so much access to inspiration for the music to sound the same. If you look back in 94 the diversity in rap songs was amazing, and almost every album from that year is regarded a classic.

As a fan of the genre I can only hope that artists, execs and fans leave the place of comfort and work to expand the horizons of the art. These eccentric artists are just a few examples of how hip hop benefits from pushing the fringe boundaries and embracing unconventional creativity.

While you’re here you can check out our AFROPUNK Playlist with groundbreaking artists: