There's been a lot written on the nerdosphere about the death of rap music in the past couple of months, but I don't buy it. First of all, it seems like the easy shortcut to readership of any publication is to declare something dead. Advertising is dead, chivalry is dead, and Rock music has been dead for the past decade (but don't tell Radiohead or Dave Grohl or Bloc Party or anyone else who happens to be making millions of dollars while rokken).
I guess the reason why I don't believe that rap is dying is because I think its much too quick to innovate itself. It's like a virus in that it's artists and sounds come and go and change so quickly. If people stop buying what's currently being sold as rap, rappers will innovate until a new iteration of the music catches on. Also, much like rock, as long as people love creating it, the music will continue to be made and have an audience. So I think it'll be around for a long time. And while it might sound completely different from now, it will still be identifiable as rap.
But what if it really is going to die, or at least be overtaken by some new form of pop-music? Whatever comes along to replace it has the chance to clearly illuminate how pop-culture is structured in the 21st century media environment, much like how John Snow uncovered Cholera's method of transmission (as described in The Ghost Map). What will make it even more interesting is the absence of MTV as a major transmitter of music genre for the first time since 1981. We all think we know how it works, but I think it would be cool to watch it actually happen on a scale that large.