Let me begin by quoting the book of St Notorious B.I.G, chapter More Money, More Problems, verse 2. It reads: "It's like the more money we come across, the more problems we see."
The influence of money in the South African hip hop game is undeniable. To the point where this year's South African Hip Hop Awards are themed "Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?" because the millionaire status has been trumped by artists.
Though this may sound like a victory at first glance, this big money wave is a double-edged sword. The most obvious con being the shift in the lyrics, it seems as though the more successful an artist gets, the more their lyrics stop relating to the average stan. What was once inspirational is now swapped for the constant I-am-richer-than-you reminder.
We are also seeing a wave of new artists who aren't really in it for the art, but think of this as a lucrative venture. This dilutes the music, making it very difficult to find good music. International hip hop scholar, Questlove described the current state of hip hop as "A perfect performance and production of empty ideas" and that, unfortunately, is not too far from the truth.
This is not to say that we are doomed. Certainly not. This is perhaps the greatest era of South African hip hop. Again, its just a matter of perspective. Do the pros overweight the cons?