Back in 2015, Kanye West declared that he was “The greatest living rockstar on the planet.” Now, this seems Ludacris at first. How can a rap/hip-hop artist declare that he is a “rockstar?” It’s not even the right genre. The reaction was swift and it was harsh for Mr. West. Though he may have said it loudly and with his patented gusto, he was not the first rapper to claim this.
Run-DMC put out a smash-hit reworking of Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way,” and the band’s own “King of Rock” declared openly that they transcended rap/hip-hop and were undoubtedly rockstars in their own right. More recently, superstar producer and part-time rapper Pharrell Williams helmed the crossover project N.E.R.D, a funk-rock group, and Lil’ Wayne found success with the rock-heavy “Lollipop” before releasing a “rock” album.
We are finally coming to the point where the generation inspired by the voices and actions of Lil’ Wayne and Kanye are becoming the radio’s golden children. This is how we ended up with the one and only Lil Uzi Vert. His smash single “XO TOUR Llif3” took over popular radio during the summer with dark lyrics and an industrial beat that sounded early 2000s Emo-Rock/Punk mixed with “Yeezus.” He then proceeded to claim he was not a rapper, but instead a rockstar. He dressed like a punk rocker and became known for his raucous stage shows, including the stage dive, which originated in the early-eras of the punk rock club shows. Uzi put out “Luv is Rage 2” and though still hip-hop at heart, he promised that he would make a fully rock album next.
So, can these rappers be considered rockstars? Who cares – as long as the music is good.