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How Rock Has Influenced Hip-Hop


Byron Hayes

May 17, 2021

When you look at the rappers of the new age (Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, and others), it is readily apparent that their rap style has noticeable differences compared to the older generation of artists. From their music style to their concerts the new era of rappers have radically changed the perception and style of Hip-Hop.

Cited from many of these such artists, this change in style has primarily come from the widespread adoption of early Punk and Rock culture. Many young listeners have started to dress and act like these “new wave” rappers and in doing so have unknowingly adopted many of the attributes from the early punk rock culture of the mid to late 1990s.

What’s most interesting about this change in Hip-Hop culture is that many listeners are unaware of rock’s influence on today’s Hip-Hop. It’s common for many artists today to wear old band tees to pay homage to their favorite bands. Many fans, in seeing this, have gone on to incorporate this style into modern streetwear; however, a large number of these such fans have never listened to Rock music – essentially wearing a t-shirt from a band they’ve never listened to.

Surprisingly enough, Playboi Carti, a popular new age Hip-Hop artist, has commented on this very topic saying, “When I see cool [vintage] shirts, I make sure I listen to the band before I put them on because they can have a dope logo, but the music is something else.” Carti makes a good point here as while there might be a good story behind every logo, the music is the real reason the logo is there. So if you’re guilty of this phenomenon, try branching out and listening to some of the music behind your favorite tees.

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Another part of modern Hip-Hop that has become heavily influenced by early Rock and Punk is concerts. If you go see any popular Hip-Hop artist’s concert you will see them stage diving and causing mosh pits. These two important parts of Hip-Hop concerts weren’t created by new-age artists, but rather by early Rock bands. Now, in my opinion, there’s completely nothing wrong with Hip-Hop’s adoption of many Rock characteristics (I would even say it has made Hip-Hop a stronger genre because of it), but it’s important for a new fan of the genre to understand the roots of it and how it came to be.

Music, through the 2010s, has no doubt become more diverse in styles and flows. With this diversity, music has only continued to become greater overall and as a music listener, I welcome the idea of artists continuing to branch out. However, it will remain important for new listeners to continue to learn more of the history behind music and how its affected modern artists – as they continue to bring in new influences.