Interview: Rakim Weighs In On The Current State Of Hip-Hop

Next up in our Summerstage interview series is none other than Rakim. We sat down with the hip-hop legend to discuss two things: his opinion on the current state of hip-hop and what he can can do as veteran to positively influence the new school of rappers. Check out what he had to say.


As far as the younger generation, they’re enjoying it right now. You gotta let them have fun with it, just like they had fun with it in the Bronx years ago on some “Hip/Hop/The hibbit/The hibbie to the hip hip hop and you don’t stop.” Hopefully, once everyone has fun with it, you can give them a chance to mature with it. The artist will then have a little more respect, lyrically. A lot of cats are getting bad rap because of their lyrical content. I understand what’s going on, but at the same time I respect the freedom of speech.

I just need younger artists to understand the power that they have. What you’re saying, people are listening to. Don’t take it for granted that you just writing rhymes. Young kids are listening. Y’all are influencing a lot of people, so watch what you say. The thing I like about where hip-hop is right now is that it’s worldwide. I just wish everybody treated it a little better. This game is precious, and the words are precious. The younger generation should keep doing what they doing, have fun with it, and hopefully mature with it. The game is gonna be yours in a couple of years. Y’all got to set the examples and make sure hip-hop is complete.

There’s got to be some vehicle where [Kool] Herc is seen, or a place where some of these [veterans] can voice their opinions. Right now, majority rules—it’s like, outta sight outta mind. If they could put Kool Herc on some BET shows and things of that nature, or put some of the conscious rappers with something to say out there, it would start catching on. Right now, they take as if the old school don’t matter. You got to understand that they had a vision. I was telling somebody earlier, if we can get a little closer to the vision that they had, hip-hop would remain with its pride. People would take it serious again.

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