Sunday, October 21, 2012

Falling Out of Love With Rap

When I was five years old, I memorized all of the words to Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.” That's when I fell in love with rap. My sister was in high school, and I got to tag along when she borrowed our mom's car. We listened to Doug E. Fresh, Heavy D, Big Daddy Kane, and MC Lyte. I wanted to be MC Lyte when I grew up. I can remember exactly where I was when I heard Bone Thugs N Harmony’s debut single “Thuggish Ruggish Bone.” I used to tear up when I heard Eve’s “Love is Blind” because the lyrics were so moving and poignant. “Hard Knock Life” was the soundtrack to my sophomore year in high school and Jay-Z became my favorite rapper. I have written countless papers listening to the Blueprint 2. When College Dropout was released, I felt like Kanye had been reading my journal. My first year as a teacher, I listened to Three Six Mafia’s Most Known Unkowns every morning on my way to work. I LOVE RAP!!

I don’t call it hip-hop because when I was introduced to it, it was rap. Years later, there was a distinction made between rap, which had the negative, street, gangsta, connotation and hip-hop, which was more positive, socially uplifting. Then, the music industry blurred that distinction and it all became hip-hop. I would like to say that as an educated, intellectual woman, I only listened to socially conscious music. I would love to be that person. I am not. If C-Murder’s “F*** Them Other N******” came on right now, I would stop typing, slide my chair back from the desk, and start dancing and rapping because I know every single word. Although I have never done any of the acts portrayed in the song, the lyrics are delivered with such conviction and power. C-Murder eloquently and rhythmically “rides the beat.” This song is his Mona Lisa. Whether you call it rap, or hip-hop, as a genre, I love it. At least I used to.

Maybe it’s because I have gotten older. Maybe it’s because I am a writer and I can tell when another writer takes his/her time to craft a phrase or when he/she just writes down the first thing that comes to his/her mind. Perhaps it’s because, as a teacher, I see how literally young people take the songs they hear. I am not sure of the cause, but I have a hard time finding rap music that I actually like. As I previously stated, I am not above bumping some hard core club only music, but even the club songs are so … well… ignorant. Not in the message, but in the delivery. I am not saying that every song that comes on the radio has to be some deep, cognitively aware form of poetry, but at least make the words rhyme and stay consistent.

Let’s compare apples to apples. The Ying Yang Twins were not deep and their music did not evoke reflection, but at least they painted a picture with their lyrics.  

From “Say I Yi Yi:”
She got her hands up on her knees and her bows on her thighs 
She got the twerkin and the servin so I know that she fly 
She got me hype, I wanna bite her right now yi yi 
Say I yi yi yi yi.

 Not intellectually stimulating, but an attempt. Now, Two Chainz just says random stuff that doesn’t go together, make logical sense, or tell a story. He’s like Waka Flocka minus the colorful sounds. Two Chainz is thirty-six years old and he went to college. Clearly, he can try harder, but why would he? The listeners just want something to get _______(high, drunk, wasted) to.

From “Birthday Song”
They ask me what I do and who I do it for

And how I come up with this shit up in the studio

All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe

All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe

When I die, bury me inside the Gucci store
When I die, bury me inside the Louis store
All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe
All I want for my birthday is a big booty hoe

So what is my point. If the lowest form of rap is sliding into the abyss, what can we say about the rest of it. Nothing. Mr. College Dropout is actually on this record talking about threesomes. There was a time when even the club records had a modicum of literary merit. Now, even that is gone out of the window. What can be said for the rest of the genre? If you’re like me, and you love rap music, stop supporting the crap they’re calling rap and demand better. 

I want to know how you feel about this. Please leave a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 100%, and I have this argument with my students all the time. The rap (or hip-hop, whatever they want to call it) that is on the radio right now is pure trash. I mean the lyrics are horrible and make absolutely no sense. And I really despise when they use words in the wrong context or put together phrases that don't make sense, and the young generation is just eating it up. I also am disappointed in the way that rappers that I listened to as a teenager and young adult have completely flipped their style for the sake of record sells I guess. As you mentioned Kanye's "College Dropout" was an amazing album, along with "Late Registration". Even the original Lil' Wayne music was better then what he's putting out there. The lyrics made sense, there was a least one positive song on the album and it wasn't all about "big booty hoes" and "money". And I'll honestly be glad when Nicki Minaj, Two Chains and Waka Flaka Lame's fifteen minutes of fame are up. I want the reincarnation of music like Lauryn Hill's "Miseducation", Common's "Be", Nas' "God's Son", etc.