The Boom-Bap Revival Is Not Just Part of the Bigger ’90s Fetish
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in all of the gold spun from the ’90s loom: Iggy Azalea channeled Clueless, chokers and creepers are the new accessories du jour, the high-top fade is back in style, bomber jacks are the ultimate fashion piece, JNCO is making its return, and Brooke Candy and Grimes remind us of dystopian Spice Girls. There’s also a lot of hip-hop that sounds like it could have come out of the boom-bappiest era of hip-hop’s Golden Age.
However, while we foresee that the chokers, yin-yang symbols, and smiley-face prints will eventually give way to a renewed interest in the ’00s, the ’90s hip-hop revival is part of something more enduring.
It’s important to remember that hip-hop serves as a mark of time. Sage and luminary of the culture Sacha Jenkins had this to say: “It’s important to understand that storytelling is an important aspect of hip-hop. You must also recognize that it serves as a language of the youth; the current language being spoken may make some of these kids feel limited and devoid of the ability to completely express themselves. This almost militaristic “trap” sound doesn’t allow for the freedom to get as far lyrically as you’d like to. It’s repetitive nature can even be a cap on creativity while old school rhyme patterns and style represents a conduit for reflection.”
Bobbito Garcia, one-half of the legendary duo “Stretch and Bobbito,” had this to say in regards to the timelessness of the boom-bap style of rhyming,”I can say that the early 1990s represented, in my mind, the highest form of what rap could possibly be when it comes to brilliant lyricism—think Nas, Monch—and phenomenal beat making—Preemo, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, etcetera.”
As far as music goes, because of the period’s significance to hip-hop’s legacy, we can always count on the timelessness of the boom-bap flow, no matter what’s trending. “Essentially, rap music peaked 20 years ago. There were a plethora of incredible records. Perhaps that’s why younger artists aspire to that sound…Think of the Jazz Bebop era’s icons like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, etc. The art form peaked. Great records and artists have come since, but no period matches that one. Same for rap, in my humble opinion.”
Sacha also mentioned that music and culture are cyclical; things will always come back around, especially when they’ve made the kind of impact that boom-bap has.
It might be easy to feel like a new breed of artists are coming through and rehashing the days of old, but it’s also important to remember what that period in hip-hop meant and that it was the foundation of everything. Plus, let’s all be grateful that no one is keen on bringing back the “Party Like a Rock Star” days.