Contemporary hip-hop like contemporary fine art is made up of a variety of sub-genres and styles. Themes from the old school era and golden age of hip-hop are still influential in contemporary hip-hop culture. The artist Kendrick Lamar uses a confessional style of rap and explores themes of alcoholism, drug addiction and depression in his work. His lyrics are often dark and direct. Lamar’s work feels reflective, introspective and perhaps comment on the consequences of excess and indulgence.
“Pour up, drank, head shot, drank
Sit down, drank, stand up, drank
Pass out, drank, wake up, drank
Faded, drank, faded, drank
Now I done grew up round some people living their life in bottles
Granddaddy had the golden flask back stroke every day in Chicago
Some people like the way it feels
Some people wanna kill their sorrows
Some people wanna fit in with the popular that was my problem
I was in the dark room loud tunes, looking to make a vow soon
That I’mma get fucked up, fillin’ up my cup I see the crowd move
Changing by the minute and the record on repeat
Took a sip, then another sip, then somebody said to me”
‘Swimming Pools (Drank)’ 2012 by Kendrick Lamar.
Songwriters: Kendrick Lamar, Tyler Williams, Nikhil Shanker Seetharam. Swimming Pools (Drank) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
The painter Cate White makes similarly confessional observations in her work. In her paintings White often depicts personal relationships and intimate moments between people she knows. White lives and works in Oakland, California and regularly pictures deprived urban areas. The urban environment in White’s work is gritty and real. The figures in her paintings are caught in a state of forming. They are partly represented and partly sketched out in outline. This gives the work a deconstructed style as though White is peeling back the layers of reality. There’s no visual security. Like Lamar, White’s introspection and reinvestigation of the urban environment closely mirrors trends in contemporary hip-hop.