Is “Hipster Rap” Punking Hip-Hop?

Still from The Knux’s “Bang Bang”

Last week, Farai Chideya, of NPR’s “News & Notes” had on New Orleans native Alvin “Rah Almillio” Lindsey, above, who, with his brother, Kintrell “Krispy Kream” Lindsey, form the hip-hop duo, The Knux. Joining him were Noah Callahan-Bever, editor-in-chief of Complex magazine, and, yours truly.

We were there to discuss a burgeoning style of hip-hop some would say the Knux typify, and that many call “hipster rap,” mostly due to:

The Cool Kidsa) its seemingly self-conscious, “insider” rhyme style and content;

b) its non-traditional instrumental textures and arrangements;

c) wide variations, fashion-wise, between

  1. an utter throwback, flattops-and-dookie-gold-chains ’80s look;
  2. tight tees, Izods, and jeans, sometimes finished off with a keffiyeh, as with Chicago’s The Cool Kids, above;
  3. other polyglot apparel some say have nothing to do with the history of hip-hop, and more with appealing to edgy, white consumers, bored of indestructible macho rappers. (“A lot of bloggers hate on us for the dumbest sh-t ever, like our appearance,” complains Krispy Kreme, in the free newspaper, Rolling Out. “Like, what the f-ck does that have to do with us [as artists]?);


d) that these crews’ main cognoscenti seem to be people writing blogs.

Are these guys kidding, taking an ironic pose? Are they trying to make hip-hop into something soft, and chewy? Are they dissing it, like traditionalists such as Mazzi of S.O.U.L Purpose (“Lesson A”) seem to suggest? What should anyone make of this?

Leaders of the New Cool mixtape front coverTo get your bearings, I suggest that you check out our 17-minute conversation. (It goes quickly, actually.) Take a gander at the Knux’s NSFW (has curses and epithets) music video, “Bang Bang,” seen atop, below the hed, from their new album, Remind Me in 3 Days; Cool Kids’ “Black Mags” video, or the audio for their single, “’88,” from their album, The Bake Sale.

Then, if you’re up for further, deeper inquiry, peep the Leaders of the New Cool digital mixtape that Mick Boogie and DJ Treats put together for Complex, above, and where you’ll here a lot of these artists together. (It’s 105.7 MB. I downloaded it, but you may just want to stream it from the imeem panel, right on the page.) Then, tell me what you think.



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