Hip-hop, and the rap that it gave birth to, might have started with fairly distinctive and recognisable sounds, but two generations of sonic evolution and technological revolution, of forward-thinking artists and musical adventurers, of experimentation and subverting expectation, have meant that the urban music landscape of today is a broad and eclectic place.
It is the reason why songs such as Da Summer, the latest cool collaboration between OG Tec and Red Bo$$, defy such simple categorisation. Sure, you can hear the legacy of hip-hop in its grooves and rap in its lyrical dexterity but it is just as much built on skittering trap beats, beguiling ambient electronica and no small amount of pop awareness. It is the analogue and digital worlds moving in harmony. In short, Da Summer hip-hop but it is so much more.
It is also pushing a different vibe from those earlier pioneers. Hip-hop came screaming onto the scene with scores to settle and plenty to say and rap could often be self-aggrandising and insular but Da Summer is none of that. It is relaxed, celebratory and full of life, it describes the sights and sounds of the season as it goes looking for the summer party scene and in turn becomes the soundtrack to the very thing it seeks.
Music has come a long way, hip-hop further than most. And if those early creators of its sound would recognise this as being its natural successor or something totally new isn’t really the point. The point is that music like Da Summer, with its more relaxed grooves, digital dexterity, cool samples and new technologies is here to stay. And that can only be a good thing.Right?