Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Hipster Hip Hop Timeline

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about hipster rap artists and hipsters’ influence on hip hop music. I’ll admit, I’ve been very critical of hipsters, but I want to make amends. So, to kick off Hip Hop week here at We Are Respectable Negroes, I am giving hipsters a chance to contribute to the important project of constructing hip hop’s meaning—as we Social Scientists know, all meaning is tenuous, and just because hip hop is a new pursuit to hipsters, doesn’t mean that their views on the music aren’t valid. I’ve asked several of my hipster friends (though none of these people would ever refer to themselves as “hipsters”) to collaborate on a timeline of the most important events in hip hop. Their Hip Hop Timeline follows:


Lil Wayne Born


Nothing of consequence happens


NWA brings a new level of authenticity and danger to rap, and pisses off white parents;

Public Enemy move into the realm of sonic genius due to their innovative approach to dissonance; piss off even more white parents with their militant, anti-white politics


Beastie Boys drop Paul’s Boutique; hip hop officially becomes art music


Vanilla Ice exhibits the depths of inauthentic white rap


Nothing of consequence happens


Wu Tang begins to make cool music, t shirts


Nothing of consequence happens


DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing raises the Beasties’ bar and becomes the first example of hip hop as “true” art music; hip hop production now respectable in indie rock circles


Nothing of consequence happens


Eminem immediately becomes the greatest rap lyricist ever: he is the first rapper to be ironic, funny, and self-deprecating, and he acknowledges that poor whites are just as marginalized and oppressed as their black counterparts;

MF Doom releases Operation: Doomsday, a creative masterwork blending 80s easy listening R& B, monster movies, and cartoons. And he does it all while donning a metal mask as part of his character’s back story. He’s essentially doing ghetto performance art!

Jay-Z declares himself the greatest rapper alive; draws parallels between the corner drug dealer and the corporate maven; transcends the ghetto niche with witty lyrics and pop beats.

Wu Tang falls off: their fans are all suburban wiggers and old “keep it real” types

Outkast channels Funkadelic and broadens hip hop’s palette: they’re from the South, one of them dresses funny, they experiment with electronic music

Record labels Def Jux, Anticon move hip hop out of the ghetto, expanding boundaries by making cerebral hip hop that’s more like indie rock in its approach


Missy Elliott breaks through hip hop’s glass ceiling with her electronic beats, girl-power lyrics, colorful videos, robust figure, and lack of a Y chromosome.

Buzz builds around 50 Cent, a NY rapper who embodies primal black aggression and sexuality; plus, he was really shot 9 times. How authentic!


Eminem’s music becomes stale when he starts to hang around with 50 Cent and pretends to be all “gangsta;” Plus, he won an Oscar and white suburban teens love him a little too much.

Caushun, the first openly gay rapper, starts getting national publicity


Mashups, an entirely new thing in which vocals from song are placed over the music of a song from an entirely different genre, are all the rage

Def Jux, Anticon become too white and corny; not in touch with what’s going on with real people


Outkast falls off: their songs start showing up on Kidzbop records

For the first time in hip hop’s history, Kanye West presents a complex black persona--no longer do rappers have to be either thugs or preachy conscious artists.

Critics in the know realize that Camron and Dipset are Dadaist geniuses.

Dangermouse hits the postmodern critical jackpot by blending the music from The Beatles’ White Album with the vocals from Jay Z’s Black Album to make The Grey Album

Lil Wayne drops The Carter, which is really fucking great!

Wu Tang is back! Well, Ghostface is, at least

Common is the antichrist: he dresses strangely and panders to a pseudo-intellectual, racially insecure fan base

The Streets, MIA, Dizzee Rascal wow music fans. The UK is the future of hip hop


Advances in Cool Edit Pro and FruityLoops empower anyone to DJ and make hip hop music!

MF Doom, Dangermouse become corporate shills and drop a shitty album for Cartoon Network

Lil Wayne, The Clipse deliver the 2 greatest mixtapes ever (of the 3 we’ve heard)

Lil Wayne drops The Carter II, which instantly becomes the greatest rap album ever

UGK puts Texas rap on the map

Several great rappers emerge from New Orleans, Miami, Houston, Memphis. The American South is the new UK!

It’s officially OK for white people to say “nigga” as long as they’re ironic and not really racist


fratboys, white indie rock critics, teenage high school dropouts, and Lil Wayne agree: Lil Wayne is the greatest rapper alive

With Kingdom Come, Jay-Z abandons the “realness” of the hood and becomes an elitist corporate shill. He starts to suck

By declaring hip hop dead, Nas snatches the hip hop antichrist mantle from Common


Lupe Fiasco strikes a blow against true school hip hop fascists who think that fans need to have knowledge of a “canon” of songs that came out prior to 2000.

A record number of black people (5) show up to the Pitchfork Music Festival. They are cordial and honor most people’s requests to take pictures with them.

The Cool Kids bring a fresh, retro approach to a stagnant hip hop landscape

Unfortunately, Caushun revealed to be a hoax


Lil Wayne drops The Carter III, which instantly becomes the greatest rap album ever

Race, gender, region, skill, access to equipment no longer barriers to rap success; knowledge of rap no longer a barrier to writing hip hop music criticism. Hip hop finally becomes the embodiment of the democratic ideal!


Don said...

Lupe Fiasco strikes a blow against true school hip hop fascists who think that fans need to have knowledge of a “canon” of songs that came out prior to 2000.

I agree. I also think Lupe Fiasco is exactly what hip hop music needed, upon his arrival.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

hip hop started w birth of lil wayne

Anonymous said...

No, hipster rap started (unbeknownst to everyone at the time) with Lil Wayne's birth.

Anonymous said...

haha this is great. best part:

Nothing of consequence happens

Anonymous said...

Funny, irony used in critiquing irony laden, hipster rap. Ha.

Actually, not so bad, but the choice of Gordon Gartrelle as a pen name is so bloody genius I wish I had done it first.

Cyril Crozier said...

Isn't the correct term for this sub-culture "hopsters?"

Vee (Scratch) said...

"Critics in the know realize that Camron and Dipset are Dadaist geniuses."

I knew some one else would recognize Camron's poetic lyrical flow as genius!!

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly glad I was warned beforehand..... otherwise I would not be such a "respectable negro" after reading the "Hipster Timeline". Thanks for the dose of levity!

Anonymous said...

"A record number of black people (5) show up to the Pitchfork Music Festival. They are cordial and honor most people’s requests to take pictures with them."

2008's line of the year

Anonymous said...

I think you missed pretty much all good hip hop

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I think you missed pretty much all good hip hop
I think you pretty much missed the entire point of this article.

doubleyouel said...

Wow...hilarious. Was laughing out loud, loved it.

My business is involved in Hip Hop history research, and it was interesting to see the author include "Paul's Boutique" and "Endtroducing....." as "hipsterly significant": in my research, I have learned that at rateyourmusic.com, a site that seems to have a user base that favors rock heavily, both these albums are rated much, much more than other hip hop classics. That's not to say that these albums are not great and classic (I think they are), but I think it's a little messed up that other great, "non-alternative" hip hop albums don't share the same popularity with the users.

Anonymous said...

No mention of MC Chris? Probably the biggest "recent" influence on Hipster Hip Hop. Dont write about things you dont know about.

Unknown said...

I think everyone commenting is misreading the title. It isn't a hipster hip hop time line it is a hip hop time line for hipsters. lol

Anonymous said...

If I may quote Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, "we now have the focus to investigate the real issues, like what really happened to Biggie and Tupac"

Down with NASA, up with the funk!
Raise the roof, shoot the moon!