Rakim talks to TMZ about the current state of rap; Photo: TMZ/YouTube

A little over a week ago, the Eric B & Rakim Twitter account posted some scathing remarks on the current state of hip-hop.

“You are now witnessing the devolution of rap music,” read the tweet (that has since been deleted). “The death of poetry and smoothness, they use this. The absence of a message. The inability to create meaningful change through words and verses, but the worse is, they don’t even know they hurt this artful purpose, it’s tragic.”

Rakim recently went on the defensive explaining to TMZ that he didn’t have anything to do with the tweet. With the air cleared Rakim did, however, explain that there is a difference between rap and hip-hop, and that critics shouldn’t knock the younger generation who’s simply trying to carve themselves out a niche much like he did many years prior.

“Hip-hop has taken a lot of different routes throughout the years, man,” said Rakim. “I’ve been around since 1986. I’ve seen hip-hop go through a lot; at this point, I just want to see it prosper. At this point there is different forms of hip-hop.”

“My thing is, you have to let young artists be young artists. I was once a young artist. It’s just to make sure the people understand the difference between hip-hop and rap. I have no problem with rap, but I’m from more of the lyricist school. But, you know, to each his own, man. The young kids out there doing their thing, I can’t knock them. Like I said, they’re keeping it alive right now.”

From an artistic point of view, there are certainly a faction of rappers out there who don’t hold lyrics at a premium; the prevailing spotlight going to hook-driven modes with more ad-libs than actual verses. The generation gap between the old and new school has seen some needless bickering as a result; the older generation calling the younger generation careless and irresponsible and the younger generation calling the older generation irrelevant and dated.

Rakim being the historian that he is knows that unification makes more sense than division. Hip-hop has evolved to the point where fans can no longer corner it into a single generation or style.

True, some lyricists are better than others, but then again that’s always been the case. For every Sugarhill Gang there’s a Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, for every Nas there’s a Master P and for every Kendrick Lamar a Migos.

Hip-hop culture will always be better understood together than apart, and thankfully there are ambassadors like Rakim trying to bring order to the landscape.