The Fine Line Between Paying Homage & Biting In Hip-Hop


In a recent interview with Pigeons & Planes, Snoop Dogg said that the new generation of rappers tends to bite styles from their predecessors instead of paying homage to them. Speaking as a veteran in the game who just released his 13th studio album BUSH, Uncle Snoop says that he loves new rappers like Drake, Future, and Migos but has trouble telling who’s who on songs.

“I don’t know who is who when they doing that rap style, and I love them all! I love Future, Migos, I love all them. Drake. They my n*ggas, but I don’t know who is who when the record is over.”

Snoop also made an interesting point about how today’s generation of lyricists try to mimic other rappers’ styles and flow rather than paying homage. The Long Beach native tried to establish the fine line between showing love and biting. The Doggfather’s “Lodi Dodi” channeled Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s unforgettable single “La Di Da Di” from 1985. Snoop did well to reference the legendary emcee’s without completely ripping off their style.

“When I came out as a rapper, everyone had their own style. If you sounded like someone else, that word was called biting. ‘You biting my style, you biting my sh*t.’ If you paying tribute, like I did with “La Di Da Di” with Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh—I paid n*ggas who I grew up loving. I’m gonna redo your song, get you paid all over again, and let everybody know it’s your sh*t, and put a twist on it for the new kids who don’t even know it exist. That’s a different way of showing love as opposed to everyone rapping the same style.”

In the last two decades, artists have evolved from humbly paying homage to recycling classic beats and sampling memorable bars without even shouting out the artists who said it first. There are five artists who have made clear examples of the right and wrong ways to “pay homage.” These artists have honored rappers dead and alive by recreating their songs (with permission, of course) and adding their own original touch. While some rappers mean to pay homage, others have completely jocked their lyrics or beats without even giving the proper credit. Where do we draw the line?

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