In today’s lesson, which is another graded assignment (yeah, yeah, get over yourself), we are gonna talk about why rap, specifically gangster rap, is really not my cup of tea. In fact you could even say that I really don’t like it at all. Now, I will completely preface this with the fact that I don’t really know a whole lot about the genre, but the loose research and things of that nature hopefully there might be a little understanding, but it will mostly be personal opinion. Like me, hate me, I really don’t care. Anywho, onto the show.
So what’s bringing this up is actually a conversation that we had in the class about the rap group N.W.A., and I tried (and failed to some extent) to argue about what I didn’t like about rap. Maybe it was the fact that I wasn’t allowed to listen to rap as a kid, but I never had the exposure and experience with rap as others did. It really wasn’t a genre that I was interested in, even after the ban on the music had lifted. I didn’t enjoy the beat, I didn’t enjoy the speaking style, but I think overall I didn’t enjoy or even like the lyrical content, and that’s really the main point of this post. Why I don’t enjoy rap because of the lyrical content.
Now I know I was born with a certain “head start” if you will, being a middle class, straight, white male. However, with my dad being Navy, I moved like crazy, so my childhood was not the standard in the united states (third culture kids FTW). Classic rock and classic bluegrass was my music drug of choice because it’s what my family listened to, and I enjoyed it. When, however, friends wold play rap for me, the brassiness of the lyrics just threw me off. When you have lyrics from something like KISS that have innuendos (see “Black Diamond”) rather than direct statements of rap artists (see N.W.A. “I Ain’t Tha 1”). with something that direct from a person, it was a bit of a culture shock. And being cultured shocked is hard for me to be, having moved around a lot. I guess that just shows that the biggest shock of all can come from your own country.
Another point that I would like to bring up is the topic of relatabillity. From what little I know about song writing, it is generally hoped that a song writer writes about what they know and their personal experiences, or of how they overcame certain situations. A lot of modern rock songs deal with being inadequate, depression, love and loss, and even some more political topics such as war and homelessness. Having a dad in the military, having had feelings of loss and inadequacy, I can identify with those. Some of the lyrics are definitely more direct than others, such as The Color Morale’s “Suicide;Stigma”, talking about the taboo surrounding those things, or Five Finger Death Punch and “Wrong Side of Heaven” talking about the mistreatment of veterans in the military when they get home. These songs I can identify with. However, I can’t identify with lyrics dealing with the drug industry, living in the ghetto, being shot at, and all of the themes that perpatrate the gangsta rap industry. They sometimes tell extremely interesting stories of growing up and their experiences there, but I can’t relate with something like that. There’s no common identity there for me to latch onto. Even looking at the little rap that I do listen to deals more with a personal internal struggle (Watsky ft. Kate Nash “Hey Asshole”) than anything else.
So yeah, that’s my “rant”(?) with all of this. I give credit where credit is due to lyricists and songwriters when they deserve it, even if it’s just a changing of a political area or the focus of the public, because they have far more talent than I do. I may not identify with the majority of the rap genre or even enjoy it half the time, but a talented lyricist and talented composers all have a creative get-up-and-go about them, guiding them to writing masterpieces and propelling them into history.
Just don’t expect to listen to it.