College Rap

16Mar11

The “college rap” genre is really blowing up right now. Most of the stuff coming out of this scene is kinda weak for my taste, but it’s early in the game so I respect that these guys are doing their thing as artists while pursuing their education. The basic premise of this movement is to promote the college scene in the same way that other teen-to-twenties cultures like urban communities and Vegas-style parties have been previously popularized by rap. HBCUs have always been important to rap, so what we’re talking about with this new blend of artist are kids mostly at public/more diverse schools who are incorporating the student lifestyle into their lyrics. Mostly white, these rappers aren’t trying to fit into the same fold of other “rap cultures” like prior white rappers have done. In fact the majority of the lyrics and videos make it perfectly clear (almost in a self-deprecating way) that they know nothing about guns and drugs beyond bong hits, but instead are just a white college kid who likes to hook up with chicks and drink beer with his bro’s. That’s a VERY broad generalization I just made (many of these artists don’t fit that description at all) but I’m trying to just paint a large picture here.

The clear leader of this scene right now is Asher Roth, whose single ‘I Love College’ absolutely blew up in 2009. I don’t know much about the guy beyond his eastern PA roots, but I have to admit that I dig the video. Guys like Roth are figuring out how it’s gonna go for everyone else…generally they start out by releasing rhymes for free online, and hope it catches fire on campus/blogs/social media to improve their name recognition. Get enough attention, and you can put your next track on iTunes to start making money. It’s an awesome experiment in viral marketing that probably has record label exec’s shitting their pants to figure out how to get their wallets somehow involved.

My favorite group to come out of this scene is Drexel University-based duo Chiddy Bang, whose song ‘Opposite of Adults’ exploded internationally in 2010. It features a sample from MGMT’s stellar alt track ‘Kids’ (get it? kids are opposite of adults) and exemplifies their style of combining alternative and rap music. It represents exactly what is going on today in college, where the lines have blurred between these crowds. Pick up their FREE mixtapes The Swelly Express and Air Swell over at DatPiff.

Another guy that’s getting pretty popular right now is Mac Miller. To be honest, I’m not really a fan yet. I have a hard time identifying with an 18-year old rhyming about Swisher Sweets…but I’m also not his target audience, so I can’t hate on him and I’ll respect where he’s gotten among the college-aged fans. There’s no talent issue…the kid has skills, so hopefully his content/lyrics age a bit and we’ll see some more refined material soon. But if you want to hear about a dude I’m DEFINITELY not a fan of… rapper Chet Haze (son of Tom Hanks and Northwestern U student) unfortunately got noticed by my boy Howard Stern, who promptly laid into Chet’s flow in classic form:

Brobible is a site that I check sometimes to see what’s going on in the college community, and last week as I was getting this post together they dropped their ranking of artists involved in this scene. It’s a great comprehensive list, but if you go through the samples they included I think you’ll see what I mean when I say “it’s early” for this genre. In general they need more polish before I would even think about spending money on it, but since most of it is released through viral methods I gotta respect their efforts, and hopefully many of them will improve and make some real money someday. I guess that’s the point. What do yall think?

music turtle recommends: PAY ATTENTION!

What do you think about this scene? Comment below

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14 Responses to “College Rap”

  1. 1 page

    Chitty Bang rocks!!

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