Todays Hip Hop is a very different from its past: different beats, different rhymes, different sounds, different personalities, and different themes with new figures in the scene rising to prominence. Hip Hop has now become the most listened to genre in the world and what exactly it is that falls under the label ‘Hip Hop’ has become extremely broad. In the past when someone said hip hop you had an inkling of what to expect, but now there’s literally so many different types of music and artists that fall under the hip hop umbrella that sometimes you just don’t know what you’re going to get with it. Which is why i’m confused at all the hate Lil Uzi Vert gets for simply being himself and having fun. Especially with the community being so diverse in terms of its sound and the races within the community; it’s that Lil Uzi still gets targeted so often. He’s an extremely popular figure in contemporary hip hop, and presents an alternative to the violence Hip Hop is associated with. You’re more likely to see him dancing on the internet than talking about things like gang banging. So why does he get all this hate? He’s simply a carefree black boy. Fair enough if you’re not a fan of his music but attacking his identity and his sexuality because he dresses a certain way, dances a certain way, lives life a certain way isn’t helping the community at all; it’s doing the opposite in fact.
Recently a picture of Lil Uzi has gone viral around the web and practically everyone with an interest in the culture has decided to have a say on it. The picture contains Lil Uzi Vert in a very wide necked striped long sleeved top. The top comes across quite feminine and so does his bag. Following this picture, many in the community have been quick to add their own thoughts on it, most of them being negative and of a mocking nature. Have a look at the picture below:
So What’s Everyone’s Problem?
Although Hip Hop has been around for a long time now, the genre has always had quite misogynistic, overly masculine content. Although it has experienced a renaissance of sorts in terms of all its new sounds and styles, mainly due to the internet and sites like Youtube and Soundcloud providing a wealth of new artists, it’s still firmly in that hyper masculine state. Many people have said they don’t identify with Lil Uzi Vert and his music because the sound is so different; instead of attempting to keep up with that overly masculine image that hip hop is usually associated with, he decides to simply be himself. Due to his love for rock music, they feel more comfortable labelling him as rock than Hip Hop, as if they don’t want the genre to be associated with him. If we’re being honest the hip hop that most of the older generation say they can identify with is the hardcore gangsta rap that I’m sure not a lot of them can relate to anyway, so how are they any different from Lil Uzi?
The communities reaction to this image and to Lil Uzi Vert’s character is quite disappointing, we moan about wanting our sound to be recognised and understood for what it is and accepted at these prestigious award shows, yet when it comes to accepting one of our own we’re so quick to discard them simply because they don’t give off a masculine enough vibe. Rather than mocking him for being different, we should be applauding him for confidence and his individuality. You don’t have to be a fan of his music, but judging him and ridiculing him just because he doesn’t fit the norms of the genre isn’t right.
The way Lil Uzi has been treated highlights some problems within the community. Homophobia? Excessive Hyper-masculinity? Identity Crisis’? It suggests that there is only a specific representation of masculinity allowed in the genre and when those other representations are introduced, they are instantly shunned. Why does everyone care so much about how an artist dresses or presents themselves? Is it not meant to be about the music? Why does a more feminine image determine whether or not an artist is hip hop or not? The genres been around for almost 50 years, when can individuals truly be themselves? Questions to the culture.