The New Yorker asks if hip-hop is dead

IS THE LAST GREAT HIP-HOP SINGLE Lil’ Wayne’s “A Milli?’ According to the New Yorker, it very well may be.

In this week’s New Yorker, Sasha Frere Jones — who mans the mag’s pop music coverage — discusses the death of hip-hop. Though Nas may have done it with more street cred in ’06, the New Yorker‘s  “Out Loud” podcast features Jones’ point of view, which compares certain current artists with hip-hop of the past, and muses on the future of the genre and pop music in general. He cites Lil’ Wayne’s Carter III as the last great rap album… but does that mean hip-hop is dead? Should we be in mourning?

On Jay-Z’s new LP:

That record feels to me like a transitional album. Its a guy who can’t do what he used to do, and he’s smart enough to see that there’s a new thing happening that isn’t necessarily hip-hop … its a combination of pop and techno and more of a club feel …  He kind of pulls it off and he kind of doesn’t.

On the track “DOA,” Jay-Z swaggers like he did in the 90s. The first track is “slow silky disco or something weird,” Jones said.

On the Rae-Kwon record:

It’s a great record but its as if they all turned to each other and said ‘okay let’s just make an old Rae-kwon record…lets not even try.’ …its a sinister kind of crackly sound… you want a Wu-Tang record? Here’s a great Wu Tang record.

On Freddie Gibbs, out of Gary, Indiana:

Freddy Gibbs was very explicit when we spoke about being a fan early 90s gangster rap. That’s what he’s trying to do, I mean he’s basically doing 90s gangster music… He’s got a great instrument in his voice… very clear-eyed about everything.

He isn’t signed right now, but that may be a good thing. Album sales are down this year by 14%, and under that umbrella, rap sales are down 12%. The chances of another great hip-hop album? “I don’t think it matters … look at the history of popular music — something radical and fantastic always pops up,” said Jones.

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