Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Posi Hip-Hop

Posi Hip-Hop

Perhaps the strongest and most influential element of music is the connection with a listener that directly stems from the ability to relate. Specific emotions and experiences are often separated by genres, guiding a listener towards certain artist. As music continues to evolve, more genres and subgenres seem to appear. There is a niche genre in the pop-punk world known as posi pop-punk. These bands are known for writing themes about staying positive (hence “posi”) and strong during tough times. Posi pop-punk is popular with youth as it creates a community focuses on relating with one another and having a place of belonging as kids are dealing with the reality of growing up. Arguably, the most famous posi pop-punk group is Pennsylvania band The Wonder Years. The iconic Warped Tour suburbanites have gained a huge following over the years. Their use of realism allows for kids to relate to their similar adolescent issues and the urge to “get out of this town”. While this is an appealing concept, it is somewhat undesirable to anyone over the age of 20. This is where hip-hop steps in.

There is also niche group of hip-hop and rap artists who focus on realism but in a less angsty manner. These artists have a unique formula that draws on influences from Southern rap, basic instruments like piano and clapping, Baptist choir harmonies and melodies, and frequent use of major keys that create that happy, easy going sound. The imagery is also important to producing posi hip-hop. Childhood flashbacks, middle class monotony, and of course, staying positive are all major themes. With these musical and lyrical tactics, relatable, feel-good hip hop emerges. Here’s some examples that come to mind: 

“We're gonna have a good day/ And I fin to worry bout what noboy say/ I'm still above ground that's the reason I pray/ Got my car cleaned up now I'm ready to play/ Make call to the sticks say I'm headin' dat way” – Good Day by Nappy Roots

“Yeah I remember sneaking out back in the day/ Squeezing past my squeaky kick/ I hit the night looking to blaze/Spawn with me/
Faded on the sleepy streets/ Up late and under age/
Rampage drinking forties in the storm drain” –Past Time by Language Arts Crew

“If I could I would keep this feeling in a plastic jar/ Bust it out whenever someone's actin hard/ Settle down, barbeque in the backyard/ The kids get treats and old folks get classic cars” – Sunshine by Atmosphere

These artists are speaking on a comfortable level of reality. Some people can relate to gangster rap, hip-hop about drug abuse, or lyrics about an endless money supply. Others can’t. No matter your experience, is something comforting hearing and relating to basic human emotions through music. Posi hip-hop is about telling an average story without letting the listener think that they are average. Listening to the realistic lyrics allows for a reflection of your own experiences and overall, brings you closer to the artist. The gap between the musician on the stage and the listener in the crowd shrinks. The evolution of hip-hop has allowed for niche genres to exist and grow and create a level playing field of what exactly is relatable.

Download recommendations:

“Stolen Memories” - Sweatshop Union
“Lazy Daze in California” - Language Arts Crew
“Light Speed”: -Grieves
“Parachutes” - Strange Fruit Project

written by Jess Keller for Royalty Magazine

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