Listen to my New Sincerity Hip-hop playlist on Spotify!
“…generally describes creative works that expand upon and break away from concepts of postmodernist irony and cynicism.”
In this playlist, I have put together a collection of songs that I feel represent a cultural resistance to widespread cynicism and nihilism. Specifically in hip-hop, whose birth and maturation in the 1980s and ‘90s was heavily influenced by widespread pain in Black communities—most famously in places like South Bronx and Compton—and picking up the work of the civil rights movement.
“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone (THUG LIFE)!” - Tupac
Given the social context, it’s not surprising that the genre was introspective of the hate experienced by its creators. Since that beginning, there have always been artists who ran opposite to that trend—the “positive tip” of hip-hop. But I think informed-positivity has really taken off since around the year 2000, coinciding with the broad trends of metamodernism.
“It’s the resurgence of the happy Black rappers!” - BUSDRIVER
“Love ain’t dead Stupid I’m the new Cupid” - BJ the Chicago Kid
In the metamodern mode, it is acknowledged that things like love, earnestness, and optimism have been ritually beaten out of our culture, and that we are reconstructing the broken pieces into something whole again. As I said of Pharoahe Monch in “A Metamodernist Playlist”, this kind of music mixes post-traumatic stress with post-traumatic growth.
I also see some themes of futurism in this style. I interpret this as a willingness to engage in metamodern “as if” thinking.
“To think any of this is possible They’ll see reaching it as improbable” - Greydon Square
In other words, artists like Greydon Square, whose music explores distant-future civilizations which have long-ago left Earth, share other metamodern artists desire to act as if our most urgent problems can indeed be solved. And that it is therefore worthwhile to imagine what new goals humanity might pursue having transcended our current moment of crisis. And, more broadly, that it is worthwhile to be sincere, romantic, and optimistic, because art which captures these ways of feelings have a way of pulling us all closer to a worldview which is not self-defeating in its outlook. If we don’t want to be overcome by meaninglessness, then we have to actively practice its opposite. To me, that is the feeling and purpose of New Sincerity hip-hop — it is the outer ritual which engages us in the inner experience of seeing life as beautiful, meaningful, and worth the effort to continually improve.