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Cross-Genres in hip-hop: Big steps into new waves

Written by Kevin Paul, Contributor

Redefining a genre means redefining the listener.

With sustainable artists, such as Nujabes and Little Dragon, to eccentric artists, such as Childish Gambino and Kanye West, the standard sound for hip-hop is slowly adapting. Popular genres such as jazz, rock and reggae have begun to seep into hip-hop, creating sounds that extend the bounds of previous generations, blooming new waves of music.

One prominent new-age artist, Lil Uzi Vert, gained fame from his innovative debut, “Luv Is Rage,” including elements from Scottish bagpipes in his hit single “P’s and Q’s,” detailing how he is influenced by rock music.

On Nardwuar, Lil Uzi Vert said his rock influences range from the head-turning style of Marylin Manson to the stage antics of GG Alin, all giving him the influence of sound that he puts in his music today.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Drake recently released “More Life,” a tape that juxtaposes the sounds of U.K. grime with artists such as Griggs and Skepta to harmonize with the waves of reggae and R&B.

This created a theme on “More Life” that sounds pleasant to the ear due to the R&B elements of both the piano and live drums, while being accented by bass shattering drum patterns, with Drake’s prime example being “Free Smoke.”

One final example of crossing genres becoming a significant element among hip-hop fans is with the popularity of Kendrick Lamar in the industry. Artists ranging from The Roots, Twin Sister and Boom Clap Bachelors have been sampled by Lamar and his production team, leaving no boundary for the TDE artist’s musical reach.

As Lamar continued to release projects since 2004, he turned heads with music sampling different corners of the music industry.

Crossing genres within any industry creates risks that may tamper with an artist’s longevity, one example being Kid Cudi’s infamous “Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven.” Even with the high risks associated with exploring new bounds, the discovery of a new world within music brings the listener to uncharted locations, one that can only be reached by paths artists pave.

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