Friday, March 03, 2006

Rap and Hip-Hop

Can't stand 'em.

I frequently read testimonials about how positive, uplifting, and inspiring the genres are. I don't begrudge other people their heroes, and this music is not marketed to me, so probably I don't have any room to talk.


I think rap music is vile. East Coast, West Coast, Eighties, Nineties, whatever. It's violent and/or salacious shit. Even Run DMC was plagued by fights and riots at their concerts. That kind of music brings out that kind of fan. Yeah, maybe one day it'll evolve into some art form that's oohhed and aahhed over, like jazz did. Or maybe it'll become a frozen-in-time nostalgia art form, like blues is. But right now it is just a sonic shit-shower. Its claims to social relevance make it just that much more potentially destructive. Every aspiring rapper ought to take a look at the autopsied corpse of Tupac Shakur, on the slab in the morgue of the Las Vegas coroner's office, trepanned like Frankenstein and gutted like a catfish.

And what the hell is wrong with the performers? What is this "rivalry" that is resulting in so many killed performers?

Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young didn't kill each other.
Eubie Blake and Jelly Roll Morton didn't kill each other.
Fats Waller and Art Tatum didn't kill each other.
Count Basie and Duke Ellington didn't kill each other.
Otis Rush and Albert Collins didn't kill each other.
Son House and Mississippi John Hurt didn't kill each other.
Miles Davis and Fats Navarro didn't kill each other.
Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge didn't kill each other.
Little Richard and Chuck Berry didn't kill each other.
The Spinners and Tavares didn't kill each other.
Earth, Wind, And Fire and P-Funk didn't kill each other.

So what's the matter with rappers? Why do chest-thumping semi-criminals chanting obscenities over someone else's music tend towards...oh nevermind!

No, I'm not trying to build a better yesterday. I know that the world turns, and vile strains of pop culture cannot be sneered or scolded away. I also know that people used to hate things like jazz long ago, for much the same reasons.

But music can put over a message that is contrary to whatever words go with it. The Wermacht had a marching song called "Erika", IIRC. It sang of alpine meadows and blond sweethearts and such, but the music was all martial tromp-tromp-tromp. So, I wonder how deep an impression some rapper's "uplifting" lyrics make if the music is shouting "muhFUGGuh-muhFUGGuh-muhFUGGuh-muhFUGGuh!" The stupid thuggy music, the stupid thuggy gesticulations, the stupid thuggy attitude,'s a real shame, not that the stuff exists, or that kids use it for an aural buzz, but that it is whooped up as some kind of positive cultural force. "Rap Against Violence?" Makes about as much sense as "Rock Against Drugs", or "Prostitutes Against Fornication."

This rant prompted by this appreciation of rap and hip-hop at the fine blog Booker Rising.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! Please keep your comments civil and on-topic. Spammage will be cheerfully removed.