Hopsin, a 27-year-old rapper from L.A., is one of a growing number deploring hip-hop’s demise, and he’s asserting his primacy at the wake. “Sag My Pants,” from sophomore album Raw, is a diatribe against the industry and its undeserving beneficiaries, among them Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. Deeming their unwitting eulogies corny and disingenuous, Hop bum-rushes the podium and adjures them to “give up the baton."
If the brawly anthem first reads as the rancorous, occasionally puerile beef hip-hop is known for, subsequent listens signal an attempt to raise the collective bar. Despite hewing closely to Slim Shady’s lyrical paradigm and production apogee, Hopsin’s sinuous flow and evolving perspective show promise as a formidable force in years to come. The rapper-auteur produces, edits and directs his own videos, founded independent label Funk Volume in 2010 (after falling out with the late Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records over a bum deal in 2009), and went from a smattering of commercial acclaim for Raw to being a standout among XXL’s 2012 Freshman Class.
Hopsin’s Funk Volume Tour hits Highline Ballroom on Thursday, with support from kinetic label signees Dizzy Wright, SwizZz and Jarren Benton, each of whom seems to share Hop’s tenuous relationship with their chosen genre, comprising a much-needed supply of iconoclastic rappers in an ocean of the inverse. As Hopsin says on his “Ill Mind of Hopsin 5” single, which surpassed 10 million YouTube views within a month of its July release, “Man, I hate rap, but if the shoe fits, wear it.”—Ian Gibbs