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Is there good Rap?


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63 replies to this topic

#1 of 64 Peter Kim

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Posted August 13 2003 - 10:45 AM

First off, I'm not an expert in the field of rap music. But as pop culture seems to be more permeated with what was once a fringe music genre and now has crossed over as mainstream culture, I cannot escape incessant references, direct or otherwise.

Subsequently, rather than stick my head in a hole, I'd like to make a genuine attempt to understand its appeal or debunk the myth. Presently, from what I've seen, rap has transmogrified from a niche sound to a cultural phenomenon that wraps itself around a core of materialism, misogyny, violence, and ignorance...and in the world of rap, these 'principles' are regarded as badges of honor.

In our distinctly pc-society, why is this code given free pass when other combustible issues are beheaded and imploded before reaching critical mass? For example, gangland violence and pimping ho's have become acceptable, cool 'noise', while Hunting for Bambi has been banned and investigated for illegality.

Inevitably, some might characterize my analysis as anti-pc/racist generalization, but I believe I've arrived at this point not solely based on a cursory glance of our contemporary landscape. I watch MTV a lot, listen to pop music, make frequent visits to malls, and have a diverse group of friends.

And from what I've witnessed, as the vicissitudes of rap culture take on a more virulent and absent tone, it gathers more velocity, especially in the dominant, white majority. Bizarre.

So, am I missing something? I don't completely subscribe to the belief that succeeding generations develop a more callous hide, resulting in a greater acceptance of depravity. I also believe that a thoughtful discussion of the pitfalls of any culture or race shouldn't be knee-jerked as racist or hateful diatribe (an example to illustrate and to break the ice...I find it 'distasteful' to 'eat dog' and think US troops should toss the mantle of 'tripwire' and abandon the DMZ).

Thoughts?
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#2 of 64 MikeH1

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Posted August 13 2003 - 10:51 AM

The best rap is from the late 1980s Posted Image

#3 of 64 Philip_G

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Posted August 13 2003 - 11:00 AM

Quote:
Presently, from what I've seen, rap has transmogrified from a niche sound to a cultural phenomenon that wraps itself around a core of materialism, misogyny, violence, and ignorance...and in the world of rap, these 'principles' are regarded as badges of honor.

pretty much from what I've seen also. Some of the 90's hip hop isn't bad, I'm quite fond of the old tribe called quest stuff.

#4 of 64 Rain

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Posted August 13 2003 - 11:15 AM

I have a theory that what has happened to rap music in only a few short years is similar to what has happened to country music over the past few decades. Basically the rawness of the genre has been fading, making way to a more pop-ish sound.

I mean, really, can anyone legitimately claim that Shania Twain is a country artist or that 50 Cent is a rap artist (what the hell was Eminem thinking?). They are both pop artists, pure and simple.

The only person in my mind who is still serving up the goods in rap music today is (ironically enough, since I just dissed his "discovery"), Eminem. Love him or hate him, he's one clever little bastard.

If you want to delve into some older rap, I would recommend the following albums to you, as a start:

LL Cool J: Radio; Mama Said Knock You Out
Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back; Fear of a Black Planet; Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Back
Run DMC: Run DMC
Ice-T: O.G.: Original Gangster

With rap music, it is essential that you keep in mind that what is being said is not necessary intended to be taken literally. Rap is a very in-your-face style and often what is being said is meant as effect and intended to solicit a very strong reaction from listeners.



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#5 of 64 Jeff Kleist

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Posted August 13 2003 - 11:51 AM

Nothing today, at least in the mainstream acts is much good. All the musicality that rap had went right out the window. Now it's all about a bunch of thugs "keepin it real" and dialing in a few backbeats.

#6 of 64 Ricky Hustle

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Posted August 13 2003 - 11:55 AM

Is there any good rap after Grand Master Flash? Posted Image

#7 of 64 dave_brogli

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Posted August 13 2003 - 12:22 PM

I hate rap now. I think its all the same and its more about the personna then the rap. I mean how clever is fity cent birthday song.......


Growing up I loved rap. My favorite from back then was.....

Ghetto Boys
and NWA. (both kinda raunchy but not to bad)

I agree with Rain on the Public Enemy also... cleaner and more upbeat, and political
kind of like the rage aginst the machine of rap.

oo oo oo Also DJ quick was good........

and we can never forget the UNBELEIVABLE TALENT OF VANILLA ICE!lol

oh and if your looking to possible get into rap. Try the Judgement Day (Leary,Estevez,Gooding Jr. movie)Soundtrack.........

its great, a collection of rap meets whatever other type of music that would be considered. you who have heard this soundtrack know what im saying........

#8 of 64 Ashley Seymour

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Posted August 13 2003 - 12:25 PM

I am subjected to hip-hop because I have a 20 year old son who seems to buy a new cd every two weeks.

To me it is the classic trait of youth to embrace that which pushes the socially acceptable envelope. Two male deer, elk, rams, etc. joust to determine dominance and the ability to breed to their harem. The "in your face" nature of rap and the total distancing from the traditional melodic underpinnings of "music" makes it a good venue for young males to strut about.

I have had discussions with my son concerning whether hip-hop is even music. It seems like a short poem spoken in a boring monotone set to a series of unimaginative measures with a predominate heavy handed low frequency over amplified thread.

For what it attempts to do it is quite successful and effective. For anyone raised on more traditional music, it sounds like annoying dissonance.
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#9 of 64 Patrick Sun

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Posted August 13 2003 - 12:36 PM

I might like it more if those rap artist could somehow show that they could carry a tune once in a while.
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#10 of 64 Jeff Kleist

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Posted August 13 2003 - 12:47 PM

You guys should check out Dragon Ash. A Japanese group that successfully fuses rock, punk and even folk in with hiphop. They carry a tune, and even when just going hardcore end up being musical.

The cycle is starting to shift again. A whole new generation is ready for rock again, and are sick of generic corporate acts, boy bands and rap. It's time for rock again

And of course, 4-5 years from now, it'll be time for it again Posted Image

#11 of 64 Holadem

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Posted August 13 2003 - 01:02 PM

Quote:
rather than stick my head in a hole, I'd like to make a genuine attempt to understand its appeal or debunk the myth.

Kim, whether you end up liking rap or hating it, your open-mindedness is commendable. Posted Image

Quote:
I mean how clever is fity cent birthday song.......

It isn't meant to be clever. It isn't even meant to say anything worth remembering. It is PARTY music. As such, in the proper setting, it can be very hard for me to listen to this without wanting to DANCE.

EDITED: to add that DANCING to a BEAT is an absolutely essential part of "black culture" everywhere. That is the sole purpose of the much maligned (around here anyway) monotonous bass heavy tracks.

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#12 of 64 Kevin Farley

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Posted August 13 2003 - 01:03 PM

Quote:
that wraps itself around a core of materialism, misogyny, violence, and ignorance


Hi. I wouldn't judge the entire genre of that. There's a streak of materialism running through a few acts on the pop side of things, but I think it's a phase. As for the other three, all it takes is a short look to see that there is a great depth to Hip Hop and that it doesn't fall under neat categorization as such. The vast majority of Hip Hop doesn't fit that description, and it's worth discovering the entire genre as a whole.

Art is a reflection of the world through the artist's eye or ear. Expressions of frustration, helplessness, and anger are necessary in art at times. There are parts of the country (and the world) that live in terrible conditions under fear from violence from many angles. In addition, there is dysfunction, oppression, and anger. Hip Hop at times can be a venue for the release and expression of pent up issues. I don't believe that they are glorifying anything like violence, or the experiences of the ghetto. I think it's an artistic call for help.

That said, all of that is a pretty small percentage, and definitely not "the core". The core is an exhibition of skill, talent, expression, creativity, and musicality. It's to rock a party, and it's to express yourself and participate in the culture. There's also a time to dance, and a time to play, and a time to compete on skill level, and all these things and more make up the beauty of Hip Hop.

The Source magazine just did a list of the top 151 songs of all time. Now, all of us hip hop fans will redo the list and debate it endlessly, but one song will always be in the top 5: "The Message" by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. An incredibly important song from many standpoints: Musical, Cultural, Lyrical, Political, etc. I'd consider that a "must hear" regardless of what you think about Hip Hop music in general. It's possibly the best example of what I'm talking about with respect to a plea for a better situation.


Quote:
Nothing today, at least in the mainstream acts is much good
I strongly disagree. Check out Nas, The Roots, Outkast, Talib Queli, Jurassic 5, Nappy Roots, etc. There are many very creative and excellent groups at the top of their game right now. You're just not going to get all of it from MTV, that's all.

For a great modern track that hit the top 10, listen to "One Mic" from Nas. That song really grabs my heart. Nas is considered to be among the all time greats in Hip Hop, and this track will show you why. It's a very powerful tribute to what can be accomplished by one man. Try to see the video, because it adds a lot, but the song alone will get you there. Another powerful one is "Lose Yourself" by Eminem.

One more great current track to check out is Jurassic 5's The Influence. Jurassic 5 are a very smart lyrical group that's bringing some fantastic skills to the mic. Great writing, great delivery, and a very positive group. Other new stuff that's good: Pretty much anything that Pharell gets his hands on is golden. What a producer! I love his new song. The Tribe Called Quest have a new album coming out, they're back together. Posted Image

It's like with any other music; You have to hunt down the great stuff. You're not going to learn about Beethoven, Mozart, Stan Getz, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. John, Nirvana, etc. from radio, so don't let what's on the surface (MTV etc.) limit your experience of the entire genre. Not that Beyonce's Crazy in Love isn't banging, and I'm digging the dirty south style, and Snoop's new album, but there's a lot that you can't get until you've studied the genre and understood where it was coming from. If you get one of Coltrane's later works, you would be "What the hell is this"? unless you spent time understanding the foundations.

Truthfully, though, there's issues in Hip Hop. The senseless murders of Notorious BIG and Tupac knocked Hip Hop on it's butt. There's some stuff that isn't good out now. There's some stupid industry stuff going on. And there's a serious pop music streak running through hip hop, but it's always been there, not always as prevalent as now. Even in the beginning, "Rappers Delight" was a pure pop song. Even though there were more serious songs out at the time, it was the song that really got the genre going, and I still get choked up every time I hear it. It's pure, and it's fun. There's a place for the pop stuff, but there's also always serious hip hop going on, it might not always get airplay. There's different moods, different vibes available, and sometimes you want party music, and sometimes it's heavy.

Hip Hop goes in waves, just like other genres. You're going to get a few lesser years for every '81, '88 and '93-94. There's always good albums coming out though. Gangstarr just released a great new album, and there's always more voices to listen to. The great rappers can rhyme with skill, vying with great jazz drummers, while bringing a movie to your mind, and making you think.

Peace!

Rain: Dig. I love all those albums.

#13 of 64 Diallo B

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Posted August 13 2003 - 01:36 PM

Kevin,

That was a great summary of the rap genre. Of course it only touches the surface but it really answered the initial poster's question.

To everyone else,

If you have only heard rap on the radio and got annoyed or heard it coming from someone's loud car and got irritated you have not really heard any real rap. I am a fan of the genre and I do not listen to traditional radio at all. One of my favorite stations on SIRIUS satellite radio is Backspin which plays old school rap and Wax which plays underground and unsigned artists.

Most anything rap that you hear on the radio or see on MTV is garbage. As the post above stated there is so much more out there. If you have a true desire to learn something about rap your education had better not begin on the radio but should begin in the aisles of your local music stores. (Not circuit and best buy but the real local corner music store.)

I will come back later with some must listen to albums for anyone that has a true desire to listen to some real rap.

djb
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#14 of 64 Tony-B

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Posted August 13 2003 - 02:01 PM

Yes, there is in fact good rap out there. Here are some good rap artists...

Sugar Hill Gang
Run DMC
Grandmaster Flash
Jurassic 5
Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
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#15 of 64 Glenn Overholt

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Posted August 13 2003 - 04:00 PM

Least we not forget that the first 'rap' song was done by Blonde, but I won't go there.

I don't consider rap to be music at all. It is too much vocal and too little song to be considered music, IMO. Call it what you will, but it can be quite poetic and would probably do just great if they'd just take the music out completely and just talk in rhyme.

I think it is funny too that the rap singers want 'us' to get 'their' message, but they are using slang words that not everybody knows about. If just one of them shows up, the real meaning of the line is lost in the translation, as they say.

Yep, I certainly wouldn't turn Shania Twain down! (Ok, we knew that). The fact that she has 'crossed over' dosen't impress me much, as others have too. Elvis started out country too (personally, I wish he would have stayed there).

It is true that country has changed over the last decade, but how many Rap or R&R listeners know who Toby Keith is? Or Trisha Yearwood? Some cross over, and some don't. It has always been that way.

Way back when, the rock & roll top 40 had Johnny Cash and Johnny horton listed. Oh, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin too. I think it was Dean Martin that pushed a Beatles song out of the #1 spot once. Yes, on the rock and roll charts!

I cannot, however, imagine a C&W station ever playing a 'Rap' song.

Glenn

#16 of 64 JeremySt

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Posted August 13 2003 - 04:57 PM

I only own a handful of rap CD's, but the Beastie Boys, are to me, the most consistent and talented rap act there has ever been. Compare their roughly 20 year career to the other acts the come and go overnight. They also collaberate with many of the other best acts in the biz on most of their albums.

Paul's Botique is a must own in any CD collection. One of the best albums of all time. Rap or otherwise.

Other favs are Jurrasic 5 and Run DMX.

#17 of 64 Peter Kim

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Posted August 13 2003 - 05:00 PM

Well, I'm always interested whenever someone can speak passionately and intelligently about a subject.


While I still contend that the direction of rap and subsequently pop culture has taken a nosedive as a result of popular perception that it's populated by violence and the vacuous (deserved or not, one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch...and is it really just a minority that's damaging the entire population or realistically, the majority that stands idly by, tacitly approving, substituting thugdom as new-age angst?), I'll definitely check out some of the artists, especially those mentioned by Diallo and Kevin.
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#18 of 64 Andrew_Sch

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Posted August 13 2003 - 05:14 PM

2-Pac!!!!!!

I can't believe no one has mentioned my favorite rapper yet, and pretty much the only one I ever listen to now that the "rap phase" I went through in my early teens is over.
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#19 of 64 Jack Briggs

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Posted August 13 2003 - 05:33 PM

Buddies, if we are talkin' hip-hop
This ain't the right stop.
So come with me now
And I'll show you how —

In the Music Section! Posted Image

#20 of 64 Tony-B

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Posted August 13 2003 - 05:54 PM

Quote:
Buddies, if we are talkin' hip-hop
This ain't the right stop.
So come with me now
And I'll show you how —

In the Music Section! Posted Image
*Tony scratches a record*

Nice rap, Jack... Posted Image
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