OPINION: It’s All About Perspective: Is Hip-Hop Dead?

Punit Kavia gives Freestyle Bristol his thoughts to the question, ‘Has Hip-Hop died?’ ahead of the discussion event.

Before I even start this, here is a disclaimer: this is all conglomerated opinion and bias and in no way is meant to agree or disagree with your beliefs about the state of Hip-Hop. So don’t @ me.

Listen. No seriously, listen. Hip-hop and rap is now everywhere: adverts, Primark, Costa Coffee, BBC radio 1, in the background of Corrie and Eastenders. The fashion and culture of Hip-Hop has also become globalised too. For real, I’m seeing OAPs dressing like OGs and little kids wearing Jordans that I still can’t afford. The point I am trying to make is that hip-hop and rap has become a global phenomenon and business and has overtaken pop and rock to become the most consumed music genre of all time.

But my question is, Has hip-hop died? Not that mumbling, lean hip-hop but the original 5 pillars of hip-hop that provided the foundations to the genre and movement and gave birth to the golden era of music.

The blueprint of Hip-Hop began in 1973, August 11th to be exact in the rec room of an apartment in the west Bronx of New York City. Legendary DJ Kool Herc tried out his newly innovated merry go round technique where he switched back and forth between records creating a seamless loop of breakbeats where people could dance, MC and nod their heads.

From that moment, a movement and culture were born and the foundations that built it became the 5 pillars of hip-hop: the DJ, the emcee, the breakdance, the graffiti and most importantly, the knowledge. These 5 pillars ensured that members of the culture did everything out of self-expression and love, whilst building and using their knowledge for the betterment of society.

Golden era rappers did as such, Tupac’s Keep Ya Head Up commanded men to pay respect to women and change their attitudes; F*ck Da Police by NWA spoke about police brutality and systematic racism after the brutalisation of Rodney King; and Public Enemy’s Fight the Power was a call to stand up against the system that held down people of colour in America for centuries.

But are modern rappers doing that now? Apart from a handful such as Kendrick and Run the Jewels, most mainstream rappers, and hip-hop artists rap about materialism, owning vast amounts of money, jewels, and cars, as well as popularising drugs such as lean that has contributed to the adolescence opioid crisis in America. Not only that, but rappers also these days have become exponentially more misogynistic than their predecessors and with the world stage that they possess now, they should be passing down the knowledge and promoting social and cultural change.

Find out more at the upcoming BIMM It’s about perspective webinar: Is Hip-Hop Dead? Hosted by myself and legend, Dr. Jennifer Otter Bickerdike on the 26th of April.

Date: Tuesday 26th April 2022


Time: 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Location: Zoom

BIMM Alumni, journalist and DJ, Punit Kavia has reported and written about underground movements, the law and DIY music. His speciality includes Grime, Drill and UK dance music such as Jungle and Dubstep. As a DJ under the name pun1t he has spun tunes for UK legends Tim & Barry and across the pond for 8ball radio NYC.