Published on September 8th, 2012 | by tmaider0
Rap Mosh Pits
Roughly a month ago, I spent a Monday night watching the band Trash Talk. For those who are unaware, Trash Talk is a very angry band from Sacramento, California, who specialize in blast beat drums, loud guitars, and screaming about worthless fucking nights. In other words, the opposite of anything related to hip-hop. What was strange (and ultimately enticing) about this tour, was the opener: SpaceGhostPurrp, the south Florida rapper who brought “the Raider Clan” to our stereos. The even weirder stuff though went down in between the two acts.
See, throughout SpaceGhostPurrp’s crowded and hyped set, everyone was throwing down in an intense mosh pit. It got to the point where I could not take quality photographs of said show. This is kind of odd because if you listen to SGP’s beats, none of them necessarily get you “hyphey”, as Bay Area folks would say. They are relatively low key. However, this did not stop the young crowd from punching one another in the face. The point where things REALLY got interesting though was when SGP left the stage and the stereo kicked into gear.
It was this point where Kanye West and 2 Chainz’s new gem “I Don’t Like” came on. No band was even playing, but the circle pit opened up, and people began to slaughter one another. It was the weirdest shit I have ever seen. Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Fugazi; these are all bands who typically have mosh pits at their shows. But this is becoming a trend, however. Hip-hop has officially upped the energy enough that people will crowd surf, and throw elbows to a simple hook and beat, and rappers are capable of hyping the crowd up enough to start a fucking riot.
I began to notice this trend a year ago. I was reading an article on OFWGKTA around the time “Yonkers” dropped, and every critic talked about the group’s love for mosh pits and stage diving. Indeed, I was surprised to see these mosh pits actually take place at Coachella. I even lost one of my sandals, and feared for my feet when Tyler, the Creator performed “French”. Since then, I have always gone fully prepared for Odd Future shows, with laced shoes and short sleeves.
But other rappers are jumping on this bandwagon (or rather, stage-diving off it). 2 Chainz really hypes people up in the pit, as I learned from my stereo experience. Waka Flocka Flame really knows how to stir up a mosh pit, and with his beats, how can you blame him? The rapid snare and sinister melody are enough to send anybody into a frenzy. Apparently, people have moshed during Childish Gambino songs, but I have yet to see any evidence of it. I can imagine scenarios though where “Bonfire” could get the right group of people to start aimlessly punching the air though. And recently, a photo of A$AP Rocky surfaced of him crowd surfing at one of this shows. This new generation of rappers is taking a leaf out of the book of Minor Threat as opposed to Public Enemy.
Now….where does this come from?
I mentioned Rage Against the Machine earlier, and I think that would probably be an ideal place to start. Oh sure, rap and rock blended nicely together a few years prior when Public Enemy recruited Anthrax to collaborate on “Bring tha Noize”, but I can’t remember the last time I saw anybody throw down to that song. Rage however, made things intense. I’m sure their political agenda also leant a hand there, but this was the first time hip-hop based music was the soundtrack of people opening a circle pit. Another worthwhile group to mention is the Insane Clown Posse and their gang of dull affiliates. The Juggalo lifestyle has always been accompanied by intense pits, and while ICP seems a bit childish, do NOT underestimate a Juggalo mosh pit. You may think you are tough because you survived a Blood For Blood show, but add moshers, crowd surfers, clowns, and bottles of Faygo flying through the air and it’s a new breed of insanity.
Did Rage Against the Machine and ICP inspire people like Tyler, the Creator, Waka Flocka, and SpaceGhostPurrp? Maybe. But it’s who inspired Rage that I think is more important. Rage Against the Machine has publically admitted to supporting louder, more punk style records. Tom Morello once said the first album was trying to rip off Nirvana’s Bleach, and one of Ice Cube’s earlier efforts. If I had to guess, I’d say most rappers nowadays are becoming more inspired by punk than other rappers.
Why though? It makes some sense, as hip-hop and punk are both very simplistic, and generally talk about harsh realities we face. They speak to the same types of alienated loners, who take refuge knowing somebody else out there feels exactly as they do. What rappers are learning from the punk and hardcore singers is showmanship. Look at singers like Henry Rollins (Black Flag), Ian MacKaye (Fugazi), Zack de la Rocha (Rage), Lee Spielman (Trash Talk), or Wes Eisold (American Nightmare). They are punk screamers who understand their live show is far more important than their music (to a certain extent). Therefore, they put all their energy into their performance. They scream, jump around, and get the crowd involved. These days, rappers are tired of a thousand kids putting their hands in the air and waving them like they just don’t care. Boring rap shows, that’s that shit I don’t like.
If hip-hop slowly wants to bring the punk lifestyle into play, I have no problem with this. I’m sure the vast majority of people would agree. Hip-hop concerts are now more fun and unpredictable than ever. Instead of some dude mumbling into a mic for a minute, stopping, and then smoking a blunt you can’t have, rappers are getting everyone involved. So, open your mind and step into the pit; it’s time to get hyphey.