80’s hair metal bands have a lot in common with a lot of hedonistic rappers today.
When I made that statement during a recent studio visit with a rapper and a producer the looks on their faces twisted in semi-horror for two different reasons.
The producer who has put out music that you have most definitely heard was thrown off. His opinion holds a lot of weight because he’s aware of all music as he samples from a variety of sources.
“Bro, you couldn’t be more wrong. That shit’s not even hitting at the same bpms (beats per minute) that we use. C’mon, you gotta do better than that,’ he stated.
The rapper had no idea what an 80’s hair band was. Subsequently, he was semi-horrified when I forced him to watch the video for Faster Pussycat’s “Bathroom Wall” on YouTube.
“I don’t even know about that rock shit but I see why some of these other [artists] be wearing they t-shirts and shit,” he said. “They act just like them boys.”
Seeing that this was not part of an official interview and the byproduct of hazy drunk talk, I was asked not to name names. Image is everything I suppose.
But at the core of it all lays a few similarities that can’t be ignored.
Right before hard rock/metal/whatever tipped in the direction of bands that wore tattered combat boots in lieu of polished cowboy boots and bangles, the rock scene was a bloated mess.
There was too much product from too many bands that sounded too much alike. It became one huge glob of Aqua net and it quite frankly became an unintentional parody of itself.
A few such as cult favorites such as Bang Tango and Saigon Kick stood out mainly because they were sort of misplaced to begin with.
The former favored gothic overtones and the latter drew influences from The Beatles and potentially Sonic Youth. But in the gutter laid bands that chased behind the darlings of the day.
Much like Sound Cloud features a zillion horrific rappers that claim that they are the next Lil Yachty; those that followed the Sunset Strip scene were harassed by names that they forgot as fast as they heard them.
Girls liked guys that looked like chics and guys aspired to be like the guys that looked like chics so they could get the girls that liked guys that looked chics.
In the now, while a bit more subtle Young Thug, Jaden Smith and A$AP Rocky have been known to flirt with feminine fashion choices.
Androgyny has been a part of pop culture for a very long time. So that concept was nothing new. Shout out to David Bowie.
In today’s movement where rap has become so over the top, so hedonistic and fueled by a lot of cats that favor androgyny, a case can be made for history repeating itself.
Ask yourself this. Is it beyond the realm of impossibility that a rapper will find a way to sample/flip the Bulletboys staple “Smooth Up (In Ya)?”
Attitude is king in both genres. Is there anyone willing to stand up and deny that the Migos alleged involvement in violent altercations doesn’t feel familiar?
When they were unified and still deep in the streets, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses were willing to get in anybody’s ass at any time for any reason.
Food for thought… you do the dishes.
Another key component to all of this is that both situations are/were home to talented musicians and wordsmiths sitting on the sidelines screaming at anyone that will listen about how terrible these artists are.
In 1980-something, it was singers with true vocal range and guitar shredders that practiced for hours each day. In 2017, its producers that took the time to learn music theory and rappers that spend time honing their craft that dismiss a certain group of their peers.
Both take and took issue with those that made bags of cash and notoriety off of nursery rhymes masquerading as their art form.
The only difference is that hip-hop/ rap has yet to find its set of artists that Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Janes Addiction and Nine Inch Nails to flip the script.
History has gone on to write it in stone that the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” changed the game. That’s not exactly how it went down.
While the song and Nirvana became the Paul Reveres of alternative rock, situations such as the success of the first Lollapalooza festival were the required opening act.
Looking around now, artists such as Dave East and Vic Mensa could be setting the stage. Mensa is an interesting case because he dons the rock star uniform better than most, yet has incredible subject matter, flow and songs.
So when will rap flip back to something that is dominated by substance over style?
I have no idea.
But I do know this. He or she is coming and when they get here there will no denying them and the others that rock with similar ideals.
In the meantime, check out our ultimate hedonistic playlist on Spotify as Nero plays the fiddle.