The Unspoken Rule of Versatility in Hip-Hop According to Bobby Simmons of Stetsasonic

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In a revealing interview with Sway Calloway on the renowned Sway In The Morning, Bobby Simmons of the legendary hip-hop group Stetsasonic, shared insights that shed light on the evolving dynamics of rap culture, particularly focusing on the art of the cypher. Cyphers, an integral part of hip-hop’s DNA, have historically been arenas where rappers showcase their adaptability, creativity, and lyrical prowess over beats of varying tempos. This tradition, as Simmons suggests, has hit a snag with the current generation of emcees.

The Essence of Cyphers in Hip-Hop Evolution

Bobby Simmons reminisces about the days when rappers were versatile, capable of flowing over any beat, regardless of its speed. This adaptability was largely due to the practice of engaging in real-time cyphers, where DJs would spin records of various tempos, challenging rappers to keep up. It was this environment that honed the skills of countless artists, contributing significantly to the development of hip-hop culture.

Contrastingly, today’s scene appears to be different. Simmons shares an anecdote about a younger rapper who declined a collaboration because the beat was too fast. This incident brings to light a concerning trend among modern emcees— a lack of flexibility. Mocking their approach, Simmons boldly states that one shouldn’t claim the title of an emcee if they can’t adapt to different tempos.

The Impact on Modern Hip-Hop

This conversation between Simmons and Sway goes beyond a simple critique. It reflects a broader issue within the genre — the fading emphasis on the foundational skills that once defined an emcee. In an age where Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Kanye West have become synonymous with success in the music industry, the question arises: are we sacrificing the core of hip-hop for commercial appeal?

Bridging the Gap According to Stetsasonic

To preserve the rich legacy of hip-hop, it’s crucial to bridge the gap between the old school and the new wave. Encouraging today’s artists to engage in cypher-style environments could reignite the spirit of versatility that legends like Stetsasonic embody. Furthermore, industry giants like 50 Cent and Diddy, with platforms like Revolt, have the power to foster this blend of tradition and innovation, ensuring hip-hop remains true to its roots while evolving with the times.

The dialogue between Bobby Simmons and Sway Calloway serves as a poignant reminder of the values that have shaped hip-hop. As the genre continues to evolve, it is essential that both veterans and newcomers alike remember the importance of adaptability, creativity, and respect for the craft. Only then can hip-hop maintain its cultural significance and continue to inspire future generations.

Who is Stetsasonic? The Pioneers of Hip-Hop Fusion

Stetsasonic, fondly referred to as the original hip-hop band, burst onto the scene in the mid-1980s, revolutionizing the genre with their unique fusion of rap and live instrumentation. Emerging from Brooklyn, New York, this dynamic group wasn’t just a collection of rappers; they were a full-fledged band, complete with a drummer, keyboardist, and DJ, alongside their lyrical maestros. Stetsasonic’s lineup included influential figures such as Daddy-O, Prince Paul, and Delite, among others, each bringing their distinct flavor to the ensemble.

Their groundbreaking approach set them apart in an era dominated by sample-based tracks, as they seamlessly blended elements of jazz, funk, and R&B with traditional hip-hop beats. Albums like On Fire and In Full Gear showcased their innovative sound, earning them critical acclaim and a devoted following. Beyond their musical ingenuity, Stetsasonic was known for their socially conscious lyrics, tackling issues ranging from racism to political injustice, thus cementing their legacy as pioneers not only in music but in cultural commentary as well.

Today, Stetsasonic is revered as a seminal influence in hip-hop, inspiring countless artists and bands to explore the boundaries of the genre. Their legacy lives on as a testament to the power of innovation, collaboration, and the enduring impact of using one’s voice for change.

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