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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Good, Bad, and Weird in Hip Hop

If you’re curious about what’s going on in the hip hop universe, from the underground to the mainstream, we’ve got a pretty solid overview for you of the latest happenings.
The Good:
“The Hamilton” cast album was released on Friday, September 25, with a stream posted on NPR Music four days prior. Produced by Questlove and Black Thought, the release is the near-entirety of the Broadway hit that has been the highest grossing Broadway play since the record-holding “The Lion King.”
While the life of Alexander Hamilton appears to be an absurd topic to write a hip-hop centered play about, Lin-Manuel Miranda does an incredible job of telling the story of Alexander Hamilton in an accessible and catchy way. Standout performances from the cast album include Daveed Diggs of the experimental hip hop group, clipping., as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson, Jonathan Groff as the hilarous King George III, and Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular character.
The show is sold out through the end of the year and early 2016 and the cheapest tickets are about 180 dollars. But there is still a lottery for 10 dollar tickets, where you can see members of the cast perform #Ham4Ham shows before the performance for those who can’t make it inside the venue.
The Bad:
Is mainstream rap culture slowly dying? Because 2015 appears to have reestablished the indie/underground hip hop scene as a viable way to listen to actual music while the staying power of rap songs that get airplay on Top 40 radio stations is slowly dwindling.
After the critical acclaim that Kendrick Lamar found with “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Drake has attracted the attention of most mainstream rap culture. While the surprise release of the mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” had a generally positive reception, the releases after that have gotten progressively weaker, and after the embarrassing feud with Meek Mill, Drake and Future released the mixtape “What a Time to Be Alive,” an utterly forgettable album.
While the production done mostly by Metro Boomin is done well, nothing about any other portion of the album sans a few Instagram caption-worthy lines is worth listening to. Meanwhile, releases such as “Catcher of the Fade,” the mixtape by the Hellfyre Club, or the album “So the Flies Don’t Come,” by Hellfyre member milo, continue to blend infectious production with rap that lacks the laziness of a song like “Jumpman.” 
The Something:
Run the Jewels is in a very interesting place as artists. After “Run the Jewels 2” was released last year and claimed its place as the best hip hop album of the year (ahead of stunning albums like “Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead” and “Open Mike Eagle’s Dark Comedy”), the rap duo comprised of rapper Killer Mike and rapper/producer el-p have been seen as outstanding newcomers to the mainstream rap scene along with Kendrick Lamar.
They have performed at multiple festivals and, most famously, performed at Banksy’s Dismaland. Their newest release, “Meow the Jewels,” is the entirety of “Run the Jewels 2” remixed with nothing but cat sounds with all proceeds going towards charity.
The album itself has the feel of the joke mashup albums done by Neil Ciecierga mixed with the song challenges perfected by Andrew Huang; while the album is hard to listen to at times, it’s worth listening to once for how incredibly impressive it is.