The generational divide in hip-hop is often a hot-button topic of conversation for rap purists. Playboy unveiled their The Speech Issue on Monday (March 18), which included a rare conversation between two of music’s superstars from varying eras in Nas and Travis Scott. The pair debated breaking down barriers in hip-hop, how much rap has changed in recent years, and what the future may hold for those coming after them.
“The past generation knocked down so many doors where, you know, they were spitting a lot of pain, man. They was dealing with a lot of police stuff. We’re still dealing with that now, but it wasn’t so free. Now we got more of a voice at the label,” La Flame recognized of the changing landscape in rap from previous decades.
Nasty Nas agreed with Trav’s assessment. “Nowadays the pain has changed. We’re after different things. We broke past the barriers,” he affirmed. “We understand what we need to do and we’re in control of what we’re doing, and no one can stop it now. No one can tell us what to do, what we can’t do. Rap music can’t be stopped now.”
The conversation took a more serious turn when Scott reached out for Nasir’s guidance as it pertains to speaking out on political issues in his art. “I wouldn’t say I don’t feel compelled to speak on political issues; sometimes you just don’t want to speak too much on stuff you don’t know much about,” Travis explains. “It’s not like I’m not thinking about what’s going on in the world. I’m an expressive artist, but with media and shit, it gets misconstrued.”
When touching on political matters, Nas believes it has to be something natural, or it ends up looking forced. “One thing we can’t allow politics to do is take over our mind and make us fall into their game. What’s going on in the news could consume our lives. If that happens, life doesn’t go on,” the Queensbridge native said.
At the end of the day, Nas feels that the ‘hood will always be a voice for the voiceless and the marginalized communities when it comes to breeding the next generation of MCs. “Those ‘hoods are always going to yell out and say what’s going on. It’s going to get more fly and futuristic. But the message is always: We want food, shelter, health care and all the things we’re deprived of. We want no police brutality. We want all these things. That’s what hip-hop is talking about,” the Illmatic rapper concluded.
Read the conversation in full over at Playboy.