Growing Diversity in Hip Hop


(Image via PitchFork)

Jelani Dupon, Writer

Although hip hop started in the 70s with disco-funk and crazy stories, hip hop got really big in the 90s, with rappers bringing the hardcore, controversial, and raw rap lyrics and beats that are classic today. In the last decade, though, hip hop has grown to be a diverse and revealing genre of music. Tyler, the Creator has a big role to do with this growing trend in hip hop. Starting off in the early 2010s, Tyler’s music seemed to be pretty normal from hip hop standards. He was in the rap group Odd Future, a group that made typical hip hop songs with typical beats, but as time went on he grew into a completely different personality in his music. Tyler has five studio albums, but his last two were the most impactful on showing his creativity. The first of the two, titled Flower Boy, was filled with songs that talked about topics such as depression while still having an airy sound, which was unheard of at the time. With his latest album Igor, Tyler is showcased on the album cover with a pink background behind him, an abnormal look for his genre. His songs are light and bouncy and are completely different from the other music he has produced. He also has a clothing line, GOLFWANG, that is filled with expressive clothing and bright light colors that Tyler has been known to wear. This style is completely opposite from the 90s fashion style: the clothing has gone from large shirts, baggy jeans, and hats to wearing sweaters, cuffed jeans, dress shoes, and scarves yet he can still be taken seriously, heard, and considered a hip hop artist.

Another big topic in the hip hop community is sexuality. From the start, any rapper that wasn’t straight wasn’t heard of, but in the 2010s, the community changed.

Frank Ocean is the first gay rapper, coming out in the middle of his career. He came out on his Tumblr account and even has a quote about it saying “I believe that marriage isn’t between a man and a woman; but between love and love.” Not many people expected him to be gay, but he told everyone how he felt anyway, no matter what criticism he took on. He has two studio albums and eighteen singles, and everyone is accepting of him. His album Blonde has many songs that talk about his sexuality, he openly expresses himself in the way that he wants and his fans and the media are accepting of that. This is a huge step for hip hop and it shows how much the world is changing since it was unheard of for people in hip hop to be accepted for who they are and judged solely on their music’s quality and not the way they dress or who they are attracted to. Overall, hip hop has changed in many ways. It started as being one of the most straight-forward, one-way genres and changed into an open, expressive type of music. It’s growing, and with society and the world becoming more and more accepting, we should expect the same from the music.