Unless you are tuned into the everyday media of mainstream hip-hop, you probably have no idea who DJ Akademiks is. But, if you’re a hip-hop head like me, you’ve probably heard this media personality’s name more than you would like to.
Born Livingston Allen, DJ Akademiks is a media personality who covers entertainment and hip-hop news on his social media and his podcast, Off the Record with DJ Akademiks.
Throughout the years, many prominent figures in the genre have voiced their displeasure towards Akademiks, including Nipsey Hussle, Vic Mensa, Joe Budden, Freddie Gibbs, Meek Mill and a plethora of other artists.
Recently, during one of his streams on Twitch, a live streaming service, Akademiks said, “Them old rappers, man. Have you seen any of these old rappers who be like, yo, they’re the foundation of Hip Hop really living good? Them niggas be looking really dusty, I kid you not. And none of y’all try to come for me ’cause I don’t fuck with y’all niggas either, so I’m just telling y’all the truth.”
He continued, “Every time there be like an old, old nigga talking about Hip Hop, you be like, ‘Yo, bro. You sure you invented this? ‘Cause everybody else is looking better than you.’ Facts!”
For context, previous to that clip, he made the point that current rap artists are given more opportunities to make money compared to rappers from previous generations. He compared it to current NBA players signing contracts worth $300 million compared to players in previous eras who did not see anything close to that kind of money.
It was a good point until he decided to bash hip-hop’s “pioneers”. As you would imagine, a lot of those “dusty” artists angrily responded to Akademik’s take including LL Cool J, Spice 1, Kid Capri and others.
There are two problems with what DJ Akademiks said: one is that it was totally unnecessary. His point about artists gaining more financial opportunities today than they previously did is totally true. Hip-hop as a genre is more popular than it was ever before in its 50-year history. As a result, it is more profitable than it has ever been and today’s artists are fortunate to make money in ways that older artists couldn’t have such as through social media, streaming, endorsements deals etc. But, why did it have to turn into older hip-hop artists being called “dusty?” Your point could have been well taken without being confrontational.
Secondly, these older MCs are the foundation of hip-hop, no matter how “dusty” or “washed out” people may think they are. Yes, the genre has changed sonically from the days of Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, Spice 1, N.W.A., and other artists. But everything has to come from something and Hip-hop as a genre is predicated on using something “old” and creating something different and fresh. While the genre sounds totally different than it did decades ago, it got to this point because someone over 50 years ago decided to rhyme over a beat and call it hip-hop. That makes them pioneers, no matter how DJ Akademiks slices it.
Hip-hop is an evolving genre, it will continue to change and grow as new artists continue to find new and creative ways to rap over a beat. The previous generation of rap artists inspired the current generation. In turn, the current generation will inspire future generations. It’s a never-ending cycle.