“Biting” is a very disrespectful word in Hip-Hop or at least it was. When you tell someone they’re biting, you’re insinuating that,that person doesn’t have enough creativity to come up with their own style.Certain artists take offense to that, Like anyone would. In regards to creating art, a person may be influenced by a multitude of things and that of course includes other artists. If you listen to certain things enough, those things might subconsciously make their way into your personal artwork. That logic is what has permeated through the current hip-hop scene. Individuals do not consider themselves as biters but instead consider themselves as artists who’ve been inspired by others. Well that’s unfortunate.
One of the things that made the golden era of Hip-Hop great was that there were so many different styles, and you had the sense that everyone had something about their music that differentiated them from other rappers. Despite who these rappers were influenced by, they had to have their own style. It was mandatory. Although during the mid to late 90’s the popular content of rap dealt with the harsh realities of the street, artists had different perspectives which translated into different ways of speaking about their experiences in that life. For example, CNN didn’t sound anything like Mobb deep despite having similar content and being from basically the same neighborhood. CNN actually went out of their way to not sound like Mobb Deep. The Wu-tang Clan sounded nothing like the Boot Camp Clique despite both being from New York City and having similar crew formats. During the Death Row and G-funk era, Ice Cube for example had his own sound and perspective on things. The list could go on. Not to say that there weren’t individuals “biting” during the golden era, but the most respected and successful artists had their own sound and would raise hell if they were ever called a “biter”. Raekwon the chef and Ghostface Killah of the Wu tang clan once disrespected the Notorious B.I.G on a sketch on Raekwon’s Only Built for Cuban Linx album when they claimed that biggie copied Nas’s album cover. That’s so detailed that no one would even realize that today.
Not to be that annoying “rap was better back then ”guy, but the term biting is rarely used now and really doesn’t matter as long as that individual is popular. The clearest case of biting at the very moment is rapper Desiigner who’s a carbon copy of Future. They’re so similar that many people including myself thought that it was actually future’s song at first. That amount of clear-cut biting is unacceptable.
With that aside here are 5 ways an artist can know he’s biting:
- If when you let a friend hear your music, the first thing they do is compare you to another artist.
That tips you off right away. If someone who knows you and your personality does not hear your personality in your music and instead hears someone else, you’re definitely copying.
- If you curb your voice to sound like your favorite artist.
In all honesty I can understand admiration and wanting to sound like an artist you love, but this isn’t about them, this is your career and you have to stand out so people can look up to you like you look up to others.
- Utilizing another artist’s rhythmic flow.
Although you may really like that artist’s melodies, you’re supposed to take those melodies that you like to hear and figure out how you can tweak it and make it your own. The melody of the record is what captures people’s ear first. So if you’re utilizing the same melody and rhythmic flow as someone else, fans will automatically compare the two.
- Following trends
Trends do not usually last. Although it’s tempting as a businessman to want to capitalize on a trend, it’s wise to stay away from it. In order to truly be an artist that stands the test of time, you have to be the trend setter. People have to want to copy your flow and your rhyme patterns. A few musical trends that I think artists sought or are seeking to capitalize on is EDM, and the current reggae inspired tracks (Due to the popularity of Rihanna and Drake’s Work record, and Drake’s Controlla and One dance records).
- Not being true to yourself content-wise
A wave of biting that happened in the 90’s and continues today is when an artist feels like they have to paint a certain narrative to be successful. Artists will willingly not talk about themselves and their own experiences and instead speak in regards to fantasy. The best example is when an artist promotes a gangsta lifestyle they never lived. The trap lifestyle is something that has been popular for a decade now, one has to say themselves, there can’t be that many successful trappers that also have musical talent. Something’s not right. When an artist speaks about a negative lifestyle they don’t live, not only are they biting off of authentic people and experiences, they’re also glorifying criminal activity.
I’m almost 100% sure that biting will continue in rap at a ferocious extent. There are now a million excuses for when a rapper is accused of biting. The most prevalent and the lamest excuse is that at least that artist is feeding his family and making money. Now I’m 1000% for black men finding legal ways to feed their family, but if we’re talking about simply the art, biting is unacceptable and shows a lack of originality. If you come into the rap game biting you’re most likely not going to last long because it’s clear you do not possess a high level of creativity. The second excuse is that they were just inspired by other artists or they’re just paying homage to the legends. Those are Damn Lies! If you want to pay homage do a quick shout out on one of your records, that would suffice.
Enough excuses. In the words of Ghostface Killah
“For real son, no doubt Bad enough nigga, I don’t want nobody sound like nobody from my clan man, keep it real, get your own shit man, and BE ORIGINAL!”