Hip hop is dead. It’s a sentiment regularly expressed by the more jaded, older members of the hip-hop intelligentsia. Angered by the growing commercialisation of rap music, pioneer and living legend Nas made the proclamation back in 2006.
Melbourne rapper Ur Boy Bangs is equally frustrated by the ill health of hip hop in 2015. I don’t want to put words in Bangs’ mouth here, but I can only assume he is referring to rappers like Chief Keef and the trap movement; with its emphasis on simplistic rhymes that laud the party lifestyle. A far cry from the political and cerebral rhymes of the early 90’s. Bangs is nothing if not a student of history with a love for nostalgia. Songs like Take U To Da Movies and Take U For A Dinner conjure memories of a simpler time, dominated by antiquated notions of male chivalry and etiquette.
Hip Hop is Dead is Bang’s third major diss track. Only last week the Melbournian took aim at TV gremlin Jimmy Fallon, perfectly expressing a sentiment about Fallon’s show that I had felt for years- Do Not Watch. Bangs’ raps were lucid, and again showcased to the world that he is a performer that has something that Fallon does not. A sense of humour. (In fact, we put together together a list of artists more deserving of Fallon’s criticism than Bangs – check that out here.)
This time Bangs sets his sights on larger prey. G.O.A.T-contender and rap warmonger, Drake. In the last week, Drake has become embroiled in a feud with a pathetic rapper more famous for dating Nicki Minaj and fighting on Twitter than any of his actual raps, and also with Bangs. It will be interesting to see how Drizzy splits his time between responding to Meek Mill’s Wanna Know and Bangs’ Hip Hop Is Dead. While both tracks I would say are of similar quality, Bangs’ has more character. As a direct competitor, Drake is an obvious target for Bangs: both are rapper-cum-singers, with Bangs providing the haunting vocals on Take U To Da Movies.
But Bangs doesn’t just target Drake. “Eminem calls himself the rap god, Tyga calls himself the last king, bullshit… Meek Mill, Wale, know what I say? I’m trying to kill all of youse in one day.” Hip hop heads will quickly draw parallels between Hip Hop is Dead and Kendrick Lamar’s controversial Control verse – where K.Dot unabashedly name-checks the canon of commercial rappers. Both verses are intentionally provocative and explore the theme of the unquenchable thirst for competition. Like Kendrick, Bangs does not fear the talents of Drake or Eminem; rather, they spurn him on.