Where’s the Superheroes?


“I couldn’t find inspiration in {expletive}… I felt like everybody in rap this year was just on some victim {expletive}… I feel like I’m the last rap superhero” –Pusha T


That opening quote came from a studio session (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TEnq1FhGM9k)     Pusha T had during his last album’s recording. Released a little over a year ago, nothing has changed since. That’s my exact sentiment! Where’s the motivation in rap?? Why are all of the top rappers of this current era depressed? Also, what effect is that having on the youth?


J. Cole, one of my favorite and best rappers of this class of rap, just released his fourth album. Titled “4 Your Eyez Only”, this album has seemingly spoken to a big demographic in the week since its release. In the first week, it sold over 500k units, which is almost unprecedented in this climate. That’s a credit to J. Cole’s fan base primarily but how much does this mean based on the quality of the album? That’s a conversation for another day. Kanye West just did a stint in some form of hospital to be treated for depression and exhaustion. He has been displaying very erratic, even for Kanye, behavior for a while now. It can be traced back to his mom’s death 7 years ago, but more recently, since the Yeezus album Kanye has been very erratic. Educated opinions have diagnosed him with “losing his mind”. I could give many more examples be it Kendrick Lamar, Future, Kid Cudi, Lil Wayne, Wale, you name them, most of rap’s elite crop now, is depressed. Why?


I really wish I could answer that question but what’s more important to me is, where’s the motivation in rap? With so many of the most popular artists so unhappy with EVERYTHING about their lives and in music, where do we go now for motivating music? Where’s the inspiration going to come from artistically. When I go to the gym, what am I going to listen to for extra energy? (The Lox’s Filthy America album just released thankfully). Rap has always been considered a young man’s game because the music normally speaks to a younger demographic than, say Motown, but who are the kids going to listen to? That’s a Kanye West question. I know “Gangsta Rap” of the 90’s and early 2000’s had its ill effects also but, that music gave me aspirations. I wasn’t attracted to the drug game as much as I was attracted to the end game. Jay Z rapped about selling drugs in his first career but he also taught us about high quality of things that were outside of our block radius. I wanted those things. I wanted to know the difference between a 4.0 and a 4.6. I wanted a house with a corridor out in Florida. I wanted all the wavy light skin girls to be loving me now. MTV cribs was hopeful.


“My nigga B.I.G. predicted this shit exactly, more money, more problems, gotta move carefully” – Jay Z. Rappers didn’t just start dealing with the curse of success. I want to be clear about that. It’s just such a difference now in how it’s dealt with. Chin up and fist up isn’t the way anymore. Pop 30 pills per day, drink 3 cups of lean and not cut your hair is the way now. Scarface was rapping about depression in 1991. DMX has been the most troubled soul possibly that the public have ever seen in hip-hop. The depression is not new. Depression being the majority is new. Depression being a part of the marketing plan is new. Where are the superheroes?

– Travis Cochran


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