Hip-hop stars like Jay-Z are of much influence among today’s plaintive singer-songwriters as Bob Dylan, one commentator has suggested.
Noticing the rise of Lana Del Rey and British stars Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande and Michael Kiwanuka, Neil McCormick wrote an article in the Telegraph about how they have taken deep and introspective ballads and given them an urban twist.
Ed, who has been nominated for four Brit Awards thanks to his debut album +, told the Telegraph that he writes lyrics in rap form and then puts a melody to them.
“I’ve always really been into hip hop. Growing up, Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur satisfied my thirst for lyrics,” he explained.
“I like the way they put words together, and then if you can mix it with melodies, you get something really special. Plan B does it, so does Jason Mraz; you can hear it coming through.”
Ben Drew, also known as Plan B, started his career as a rapper who played acoustic guitar before his second album The Defamation of Strickland Banks turned him into a hip-hop soul singer.
Lana Del Rey, too, has cited hip-hop as inspiration for her music. She has been described as a ‘gangsta Nancy Sinatra’.
“The hip-hop world has crossed over into all of the world, and it crossed over into mine too,” she was cited by the Telegraph as saying.
McCormick noted that by incorporating hip-hop into traditional song forms, music is coming “from the inside out, emerging through a natural affinity with the genre rather than being artificially grafted on in pursuit of a gimmick”.
However, he also noted that rappers like Drake have also been pushing hip-hop towards more introverted subjects that are usually the realm of ‘me and my guitar’ singer-songwriters or they have collaborated with these types of musicians.
“It is a reflection of a general blurring of boundaries in the internet generation,” he claimed.
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