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Leaders of the New Old School: Passing The Torch

“Waitin for my day to come, just give me the word…”

– Memphis Bleek, from the song Hand It Down (on the album Lifetime… Vol 2).

The “next generation” of hip-hop has had more than a few waves over the years. A great deal of under-twenty spit kickers prefer to hone their sound to match the dominant sound of the day – and who could blame them. However, there are a lot of fresh faces popping up that have seemed to embrace the 90’s era that many older fans hold dear to their hearts.

The timing makes sense; if you were 20 something a backpack rocking, subway bomber knocking tapes you dubbed off Stretch & Bobitto – and you happened to get a woman pregnant – your offspring is now 15–18. It’s unlikely that you taught them about anything except 90’s hip hop, which helped them gain a different perspective than their peers on the culture as a whole. The result? Joey Badass, Astro, A-F-R-O, Bishop Nehru and youngest of the bunch, TJ Brown. They are the new breed of cats, much in the same vein as Sheyheim, A+ and Chi Ali were all those years ago. Unlike our heroes though, this new breed of rapper – armed with golden era aesthetics and sensibilities – have a secret weapon: the internet and social media.

Joey Badass made waves (no pun intended) with his debut mixtape that caught the ears of heads like DJ Premier, and tastemakers a like. Astro blasted off (again, no pun intended) after his run on X-Factor. He’s since established his sound as unapologetically hip-hop. A-F-R-O is the most hyped wonder kid of the moment, capturing the imaginations of legends in the game with his (almost) unbelievably captivating freestyle skills. Literally, he had to prove himself. Lastly, TJ Brown is a youngster whose been setting my timeline on fire over the past few weeks dropping bars on classic records, and causing many to declare, “hip-hop is truly alive.”



There will never be another golden era as we all remember it, but this new class of young artists seem poised to create a new golden era that will inspire a new-new generation of artists to keep the spirit of hip-hop (as a culture) alive. Shout out to the parents doing the right thing, and the iconic figures in the game who are passing the torch, and knowledge, along to these young cats.

Here’s to another 40 years of real shit!

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns