Kendi – an Undercover Music Critic

The world’s rap scene is absolutely flourishing these days. In fact, hip-hop has become the world’s most popular music genre, recently having surpassed its very broad peer, rock.

This is the case with Serbia, too, with the kids happily hoarding towards the hip-hop culture. It is normal for music to find the majority of its audience in human beings that are still being shaped into grownup people, and it’s the duty of every music artist to be genuine and to speak from their heart, as this is a valuable lesson to be taught to the younger crowd.

As such, hip-hop is quite something of a tongue-in-cheek culture. The old-school gangsta rap lyrics were literally about, well, crime; and not in a critical manner. Its early African American pioneers weren’t afraid to speak about guns, drugs, and violence, as a means of ‘sticking it to the man’. Even though the genre has undergone severe changes over the years, the current state of hip-hop is that it still talks about doing immoral things, talking about luxury, “making it rain”, violence and substance abuse.

 

The three names

The rap scene in Serbia has followed in suit with the general world trends, but artists such as Milan Sisojevic, commonly known as Cantwait, Kendi and, more recently, Pablo Kenedi, aren’t afraid to speak up against the negative sides of current hip-hop trends. Kendi, in particular, whether he knows it, does this vicariously, through melodic sarcasm and unspoken criticism.

 

His stance

Kendi is open about his disliking of turbo-folk, a hybrid Balkan-based genre that promotes shallowness and short-sightedness, and he doesn’t care about money and the criminal lifestyle that so many modern and popular rappers tend to promote.

As Pablo Kenedi, which is his most recent pseudonym (alter-ego), he assumes the role of a rapper who jokingly raps about ghetto, money, success, deliberately emulating everything that is immoral in the modern rap scene in Serbia. Even pubescent kids can easily feel out that this is a joke: he overtly exaggerates every “gangsta” behavior in the hip-hop culture.

 

Trap is dead

The latest album that he released as Pablo Kenedi, which translates to “Trap is dead” is a release that pretty much mocks everything that modern “mumble rap”, a recent trend that he openly disapproves of, represents.

Most importantly, owing to his old following and to the people he tends to hang out with, it’s difficult to take anything he raps about in “Trap is dead” seriously, which is an important piece of vicarious critique: in his own words (paraphrased), rap audience mostly consists of teenagers and tweens; as role models to such a crowd, it is the artist’s responsibility to shape them, both in terms of their life goals and their music preferences.

Whether or not Kendi does this intentionally, he successfully provides a vital criticism to the world of modern hip-hop culture. Although he admits that the current world’s most popular genre has a lot of awesome music to offer, it is vital, now more than ever, to make sure that rap and hip-hop do not become corrupted by promises of wealth and status, through tools of immorality and illegality.

 

Pablo Kenedi is an answer to listening to bad music sarcastically – although seemingly harmless, this trend only gives the world more exposure to bad music. Kendi does utilize all the “bad” trendy rap techniques but manages to make true art from it – something that is truly, openly, a quality piece of music. There is no better form of criticism than this.

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