The divisions between modern trap and older hip-hop have been rammed straight into public discussion as Waka Flocka Flame has declared Lil Xan ‘banned from hip-hop’, following his February interview with Revolt TV. When asked to rate a wealth of trending topics and music icons, including Net Neutrality, Beethoven and Drake’s latest release, God’s Plan, Lil Xan, aka Diego, rated Tupac Shakur a two out of ten, dismissing the performer’s music as ‘boring’, which has led to mass uproar from the rap community.
The story itself is relatively boring; Lil Xan was asked controversial questions, gave a controversial answer, which caused outrage. It can easily be dismissed as a inexperienced rapper falling for media tricks designed to get as many clicks as possible, which in itself isn’t newsworthy; indeed, Xan recognised this and has now said he won’t be doing any interviews. However, the conversation that has been created, that boils down to what the next generation of rappers have been influenced by, is far more interesting. Is it surprising to anyone who has heard any of Lil Xan’s discography that he hasn’t been influenced by 2Pac or Biggie Smalls? Diego and his peers have carved out a niche that is a blend of hardcore and alternative rock, mixed with the foundations of modern trap music. In his interview with Pigeons and Planes in late December of last year, Xan cited Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys as examples of his influences, along with early N.E.R.D releases; not a mention of any classic rap artists. This is the basis for my argument that so called ‘soundcloud rap’, despite its similarity to other hip-hop genres, simply cannot be compared alongside them.
Take the late Lil Peep, a close friend and peer of Lil Xan, for example, whos top tracks include samples from alternative metal and rock artists such as Three Days Grace, Pierce the Veil and Underoath. Thematically, his music remains true to his samples, filled with Horrorcore imagery and angsty lyrics. The origin of this genre of music stems from a completely different set of influences than the the music of Waka Flocka and other notable critics. If Xan has rated Three 6 Mafia, or $uicideboy$ negatively, then I would agree, yes, Xan’s arrogance and ego would have been showing, as they are undoubtedly a direct influence in this genre and by discrediting them he would be implying he is more important. Instead, Xan simply said that he wasn’t interested in classic Hip Hop, understandably.
Continuing on, the peak of 2Pac’s musical reign was before this new generation of rappers time. All Eyez On Me was released February 1996; a full seven months before Xan was even born. The rest of the genre are even younger, with influencers such as Lil Pump being a full four years younger, and XXXtentacion only being twenty years old; by his first birthday, Tupac had been dead for almost a year and a half. Even so, it would be several years before any of them had listened to 2pac’s music.
Honestly, any way you look at it, the reaction to Xan’s off guard comment has been blown way out of proportion. Angry mobs and established rappers ‘banning’ Xan from hip hop is childish and over-inflated for media’s sake. It certainly wasn’t disrespectful, rather an acknowledgement that he didn’t grow up listening to classic Hip Hop, and as a result, doesn’t get influenced by it, doesn’t understand it and most importantly, doesn’t care for it.