Predictably, the Meek Mill/Drake feud was the main topic of conversation in my barbershop Friday. In the hour or so I was there, the following points were touched on:
The importance of whether Drake has a ghostwriter
This entire feud happening because Meek Mill is feeling insecure because he's fighting above his weight with Nicki Minaj
Birdman's hands (Yeah, I don't know why either)
Darkskinned niggas acting lightskinned
And then, someone said something about how this entire feud just proves how soft and wack today's generation is in comparison to "our generation," and brought up Biggie and Pac as evidence. And we all agreed; simultaneously acknowledging that today's young people are some lame-ass, bitch-ass motherfuckers.
To cement that point, Biggie's "Dead Wrong" is on my Spotify playlist. I listened to it on the way home and marveled at the wordplay as him and Eminem rapped about robbing, raping, and murdering families and livestock. And then I got a little verklempt about the fact that we only had like three years of Biggie music before he died.
And then I was like "Umm, wait a minute, Damon. Before you get all verklempt. Remember, Biggie didn't just DIE. He was killed. As was Tupac. As a result of a rap feud. The type of "real" rap feud you were just praising in the shop 10 minutes ago."
And this brings up another point: Regardless of how wack you think this Mill/Drake beef is and how long you think it'll last, there's no doubt there's like a 0.000000000% chance either of them are going to end up dead because of it. Granted, a thugged out rapper airing grievances on the tweets instead of the streets will never not be weird as fuck. But that's just how these kids today do things. It's awkward, it's lame, it's soft, and it's surreal to witness. But it's also not the worst thing in the world for the most popular rap artists to actually stay alive.
Anyway, that barbershop conversation is one I — and, I'm assuming, most people reading this — have had numerous times. Not the Mill/Drake angle, but how much worse this generation is compared to us. (FYI, "this generation" = "anyone under 25.") But — and I say this with as much trepidation as possible — I don't know how true that is. I actually think they might be, gasp, better. Yes. Better.
How exactly? Let's see.
We were dumb as fuck in regards to sex. They are less dumb.
Although it might seem like young people are becoming more and more sexualized, the reality is that they are making smarter sexual decisions. Teen STD rates have apparently plateaued. Teen pregnancy rates are down. And teens are generally waiting longer to have sex. And their oft-criticized connections to their iPhones and social media might actually be beneficial to their sexual health.
More teenagers than ever have smartphones, including those with no traditional computers at home. Many are more comfortable searching in private for credible information about sexual health, she said. They could be better educated about the risks — and more mentally prepared before that first heated moment ever comes.
“They’re looking on the web,” Bokor said. “They’re looking for guidance from parents, guardians and physicians. They can and will make positive decisions for their own health, both sexual and otherwise. We really need to be prepared to treat our youth and young adults as educated consumers.”
The popular music is considerably less violent. And more diverse.
In high school, my favorite rappers were Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep, Biggie, and Big L. And if you add up the number of people murdered in the songs created by them, you'd have…a lot of dead people. Big L — who might have been my favorite non-Wu rapper — had a song were he bragged about killing nuns, being from Hell, and not giving a damn if he caught AIDS…in the same verse! The biggest, most popular rap group my freshman year featured a bunch of niggas from Cleveland singing about ouija boards.
Today's most popular rappers are a Canadian Instagram model, Big Sean (who very well might be an actual infant), J Cole (a college grad), Kendrick Lamar (a straight-A student in high school), an American Idol judge, and Caitlyn Jenner's stepson-in-law. Even the edgier and more street rappers today seem to rap more about taking drugs than selling them. Sure, you have your Chief Keefs and your Bobby Shmurdas, but they seem to be the exceptions now instead of the norms.
Their clothes are…better
As much as we lament the popularity of skinny jeans and extra smedium everything, this…
…is better than this…
They're better at typing
As you would have been too if you spent your entire adolescence firing off dozens of texts and tweets per hour.
Their hair is better
I honestly don't know if there's ever been a time when you saw as much variance with Black hairstyles. Fades, twists, locs, frohawks, hi-top fades, hi-top twists, caesars, nappy fros, blow outs, beards…just look at this selfie of the players selected in the 2015 NBA draft. Or do a Google image search for Afropunk and look at all the styles there. All things considered, when it comes to versatility and acceptance, this is probably the best time for Black hair in America…ever. And its all because of people born in the late 80s and early 90s. Not us. We can't take credit for that one.
They're generally more open-minded. And less afraid to be themselves.
Of course, anyone thinking racism and bias and shit are going to die out in the next couple of decades needs to take their New Black goggles off and remove their heads from up Pharrell's ass. But you can't deny that growing up with an actual Black president instead of a TV one and the legalization of gay marriage and even us allowing an actual orangutan to run for president has to have some effect on what younger people are generally more accepting of. At least in comparison to previous generations. When you add this with how internet makes it easier to connect with like-minded people, there just does seem to be more room for and embrace of individuality.
(They still couldn't beat us in a fight, tho. Or at Contra and Duck Hunt. At least we'll always have that.)