While those who grew up listening to the rap of the 1990s are accustomed to MCs like Twista battling to see who could be the fastest rapper, the modern audience has grown accustomed to rappers like Drake, who rap with a far more lazy flow and aren’t particularly interested in trying to see how many syllables they can cram into each bar.
However, this comparison can be somewhat faulty, as it fails to take into account the new and improved style of production that most modern rappers favor. Rappers in the ’90s were used to flowing on sample based tracks that served to accentuate their voices, whereas the rappers of today almost serve to function as an additional instrument.
It is essentially an apples and oranges comparison, since the sound of the music is vastly different from what it was. There are some mainstream MCs, like J Cole, Kendrick Lamar and Logic, who aim to keep old school principles alive. They tend to favor a more throwback style of production and consistently invoke the MCs of years past in their rhymes.
Your opinion as to whether the rappers of today are an improvement over the rappers of old depends entirely on what you are looking for from the music. We are in an unprecedented era, a time where literally any form of rap music that you want is available to you. Do you want to remain stuck in the 90s? J Cole and Kendrick Lamar have you covered.
Are you looking to push the boundaries and listen to MCs who have very little resemblance to their forefathers? Young Thug and Future consistently push the lines of the genre outward with each release. Young Thug and Future also have one important thing in common: both were heavily influenced by Lil Wayne, who is the midpoint between these two eras.
Lil Wayne got his start as a young kid, rapping with the Cash Money Millionaires, before becoming a star in his own right. While he is now known for his forays into Autotune and heavy influence on today’s crop of rappers, he was influenced by the traditional stars of yesteryear. When he first began his meteoric rise, there were many who accused him of trying to sound like Jay-Z, now he is blamed for the rise of Young Thug and Future.
At the end of the day, it is purely a matter of perspective. If you are someone who wants to hear fast rappers like Twista and Bone Thugs N Harmony, then you’ll need to turn to the underground scene and listen to guys like Tech N9ne. If you are willing to give the newer rappers a chance, you will find that their flows and cadences are intriguing and enjoy their music in a different way.