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Genre: Rap

Vote and debate.

Moderators: kerble, Electrical-Staff

Rap, dawg?

CRAP
59
31%
NOT CRAP
131
69%
 
Total votes : 190

Genre: Rap

Postby SchnappM on Tue Jan 27, 2004 4:26 pm

Prompted by the Dizzee Rascal thread...

I know you'll all say that it's not fair to lump all rap together, but the essence of C/NC is that it's not supposed to be fair. Does the good rap outweigh the bad? Is there such a thing as good rap? Is there such a thing as bad rap? Decisions, decisions....

I personally am going to go with crap. I'm not racist or anything, but I've never even liked the "indie" rap Pitchforks always hypes up. I must admit, though, I have a soft spot for the Roots, but in essence the Roots make rap music that generally appeals to people who don't like rap too much.
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Postby tmidgett on Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:14 pm

i think it's as good as anything else when done well

opera, i would be tempted to vote crap, knowing full well i would be doing so out of ignorance

the not-a-racist disclaimer reminds me--boy, my mom hates rap! haha! she is very liberal etc., but the other week i was staying at her house, and G unit (w/50 cent) was on saturday night live. it wasn't that great, but it was ok. but my mom hates that shit! the look on her face was amazing.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Tue Jan 27, 2004 5:37 pm

i think it *is* fair to lump rap together. but that may be based on my interpretation of rap. which is most basically : poetry over music, with little or no focus placed on the melodic component of the vocals.

rap is *all* about the vocals, yet there is little or no melody, relatively speaking. granted, rock music can easily be melody-less as well, especially at its extremes, like death metal. hrm. rap/metal fusion. hrm.

personally, i fucking hate poetry. maybe 97% of it makes me sick. poetry is really, really not for me. which is why i don't tend to gravitate towards music based on the lyrical content.

then to go a step further and get really specific, i think this is as refined as i can get with regard to what exemplifies rap for me:

-vocals are of paramount importance
-music is very much secondary to vocals (please don't bring up the Roots again! :wink: )
-vocal melody is not intrinsically relevant
-structured and repeated groove in non-odd meter is generally the way

the only thing there that clicks for me is that the vocal melody is not key. but the other three criteria, that's where it loses me. i'm all about the music, and don't really give two shits about the vocals most of the time. and repetative groove in a non-odd meter is kinda, uh, phenomonally boring for me. granted, rap that grooves in 7/8 must exist somewhere, but it's certainly outside the box.

for these reasons, and after deliberately pointing out that rap vs non-rap is absolutely not a racial issue, i'm gonna say that RAP = CRAP with very little waffle. i gotta give mad props to all the cats out there than can freestyle, or can lay down hype beats, that shit is truly amazing and a gift (when done well), but aside from a couple of things here and there (*some* of the stuff from folks like de la soul, run dmc, public enemy, the beastie boys, all that cracker-friendly stuff which is awesome in my opinion) i consistently do not dig rap.

and then if you wanna get into the stuff that *is* more in the realm of racial bias, i fucking hate thug-ass motherfuckers, and i despise the fact that it has become so dominant in the rap mainstream (that i've seen) for the past... more and more ever since NWA maybe? Dr Dre seems to have been a big player in this trend. that shit is *disgusting* to me, because it glorifies thug life, aspiring to succeed in life through use of glocks and gats, pimpin hoes, spending fat bank on bling, all that stuff which is totally devoid of positivity or substance, it's deplorable and it's a damn shame that this type of crap is what so many kids have to idolize and aspire to. anything that glorifies being a thug is taking kids that may be waffling, or may already *be* on a bad path, and it's kicking them up to warp factor 10 in the wrong direction. *NOT ALL RAP IS LIKE THIS, AT ALL*, and i hope that i have overstated this enough, that rap and what i'm talking about are not intrinsically tied. rap is an art form (poetry + music, in my estimation). using mainstream cultural outlets to endorse a shit lifestyle is not dependent on rap, nor is rap to blame for it, rap just so happens to be the medium. so is MTV, etc. it's the *people* out to make their loot in such a destructive way, that's what i take issue with. i realize that being threatening is helpful to their capital success, but it seems like that's where this discussion typically ends, with someone saying something like "hey toomanyhelicopters, you're a racist, because you like rap just fine as long as it's docile and harmless, but as soon as it threatens you, you come down on it", some shit like that. and to that i say 'eat a dick', you get a white guy or a chinese guy or a latvian woman or a cartoon squirrel for all i care, *i don't care*, anybody who's all over the mainstream media glorifying such tremendously negative shit like guns, sexism, ignorant capitalism, all that, i'll despise them just the same. just like i would despise a musically brilliant indie band if their lyrics were pro-nazi or something equally lame.

man, i'm such a spaz.
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Postby geiginni on Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:03 pm

Spaz or not, I agree with your arguement completely.

I will add that the "you don't like rap = you're racist" is the stupidest goddamn arguement ever. That kind of accusation might work when targeted at grandma or grandpa, but to an educated, progressive young adult it is a cheap shot. Should those whom do not like country music stand accused of being Ivy-League WASP elitists?

Many of the musical figures that I greatly admire reside in jazz. They are not necessarily Dave Brubeck and Cal Tjader either. The once common assumption that jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong were "uncle Toms" is complete and utter bullshit, and anyone who would voice such charges should be ashamed. One of my personal heros in jazz is Eric Dolphy, possibly one of the finest woodwind players of his era, and an admirable example of a conciencious, gentle, articulate person unlike so many of the 'thugs' found in the rap genre and lionized by young people from all backgrounds.
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Postby djanes1 on Tue Jan 27, 2004 10:00 pm

Its going to be tough to get a fair argument about the merits of hip hop on the electrical forum. This board has total expertise on anything indie-rock, but some of the things outside of it become easily dismissible because they can be outside of our frame of reference. I guess what i'm saying is that it can be tough to get into something when the way you've grown up is completely different than that of the artist's. Not to say that you can't listen to something from a different place, but it definitely presents a barrier.

There are a couple of arguments here i don't agree with. Somebody said that most of rap has to do with vocals. This couldn't be farther from the truth. The 'beats' behind the rap have way much more to do with the success of the song than the lyrics themselves. Producers like the Neptunes get paid big $$ to make them, and rightfully so. Producers wouldn't become well-known if their work had little to do with the final product. I don't understand poetry either, but rap is more than just the lyric sheet; the way the words are pronounced and flow together, as well as other factors contribute to the overall performance.

Another thing is, people have said that while they enjoy some rap, such as Public Enemy or the Roots, they dislike it as a genre. That is like saying that you enjoy some John Coltrane and Count Basie, but do not like the genre of Jazz. I think if you can enjoy Public Enemy or the Roots, then you enjoy hip hop as a genre. Just because a lot of shitty mainstream rap is forced upon you, or you are disgusted by a popular subgenre of rap, is not reason to write off the entire genre. I think most of us here would describe ourselves as fans of 'rock' music. Does this mean we have to enjoy Creed, Bush, and all their shitty imitators in order to qualify as fans of the genre? fuck no. Just because 50 cent sucks doesn't mean i can't enjoy all the great stuff coming out on the Def Jux label, or the 'golden era' acts of the late 80s.

Which isn't to say that there aren't valid reasons to dislike rap or any genre. Repetitiveness, whatever. If you just dont like any of it at all, just say so. I don't like opera either.
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Postby Bradley R. Weissenberger on Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:10 pm

Rap produced the finest recording that I have ever heard -- Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back". This record thrills me like almost nothing else that I have ever experienced in my life. In my mind, it is impossible to overstate the importance of this record. In my opinion, it is a landmark achievement and a milestone in art of any form.

Rap has also produced many other records that I really love and respect, as well as many records that I think are silly, incompetent, ill-conceived or just plain bad.

So, I'll say rap -- NOT CRAP. Rap changed my life in a very meaningful way, probably in the same way punk changed the lives of many people in this forum.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Tue Jan 27, 2004 11:49 pm

bradley w... i totally agree about the relevance of PE. i only wish there was a stronger presence in the rap mainstream today of forward-thinking, socially critical, yet still *positive* artists whose message promotes enlightenment (as PE did), rather than the negativity i see in folks promoting bling and thongs.

djanes1... i think maybe we're just looking at it differently. the way i'm seeing it, there are not 10 acts out there called "produced by dr dre", there are people called "xzibit" and "eminem" and such. the beats are necessary and are important, but i tend to think it's a case of the same thing as what i've seen with pop music, namely, the music is there to give the vocalist something to sing over. average joe doesn't even have the ability to identify the instruments used in the music, or go any further with the music than the ability to bounce along with it, but he can hum the vocal melody or even sing it if he knows the words. i think this is a truth, a generalization that holds true with the majority of folks if you take a random sample. here, you're gonna get the perspectives of people who can't even listen to some albums because they're put off by how bad the stereo imaging is, so that whole "vocals first" thing will be much less likely to apply. so i certainly agree with you that we all come to the table with our life experiences ingrained in us more or less. of course, my parents don't listen to math rock, not even close, nor do we have any musical tastes in common, really, aside from maybe some beatles stuff or most of what came out of motown. so i don't know how far i'd wanna go with the 'different backgrounds' thing. i mean, my mom loves diana ross, but i would venture to guess that the two of them did not grow up in a remarkably similar fashion. i can't know for sure.

as far as the big-name producers thing goes, i'm just gonna say that many folks are gonna be able to recognize the name "eminem", or "snoop dog" for example, and many less folks will identify "the Neptunes". granted people will identify Dr Dre, who is arguably the biggest-name producer out there (especially to the marginally-informed like myself) but even that probably stems from his success with NWA and really with the success of The Chronic and all that followed.

also, i never said that rap was primarily about the words. i said it's primarily about the vocals. it may have been better for me to have used the word "vocalist" in place of "vocals". that is certainly in line with the point i was making. the tone of someone's voice can be what sets them apart, the use of rythmn, even the use of stuff like after every line, screaming the word "whuh?!?". i don't know who busta rhymes is because of his lyrics, i don't even know what the hell his lyrics are most of the time. but i know the sound of his voice, and i know how he looks, and i know his gestures. and, i might add, off the top of my head, i haven't the slightest idea how any of his beats go or who produces them. i realize that my personal experience doesn't merit a generalization all on its own, but i'd venture to guess that it's the same for plenty of other people who would even consider themselves fans. i don't think i ever even implied that the specific words were the key, so much as the man on the mic. like how the fresh prince overshadowed dj jazzy whats-his-name, or how more people are probably gonna recognize chuck d or flavor flav than terminator x, or how the groups were called "run dmc" and "salt n pepa" and not "jam master jay" or "spinderella".

re what you said "I think if you can enjoy Public Enemy or the Roots, then you enjoy hip hop as a genre." i completely disagree. let's ignore the fact that the rules of logic mean the statement pretty much needs to have the word "all" in it, since nobody was ever talking about "all" in this discussion so much as "most". that aside, it seems like you're saying if i *only* like PE, and i actively can't stand 10,000 other rap groups i've heard, then i still like rap as a genre. this is absurd. i can like one song by one artist, or ten songs by one artist, or ten artists out of a thousand, or 80% of the artists i hear... these are all different scenarios. just because i like one specific pair of shoes doesn't mean i like all shoes, or even that i really like shoes in general.

i actually lived in a recording studio for over a year, and the client base was primarily from chicago's hiphop underground. i got to meet some cool people, and some dicks, i got to hear some cool songs, and some lame ones. i got to play on an album by E.Cilla, and work with guys like Panic, and DJ PNS (i'm thinking these are all guys that somebody who was following chicago hiphop in the late 90's would be familiar with). there's even a song out there (called "the ska machine") on a ska compilation... ( http://www.jumpuprecords.com/jump100.html ) my friend wrote the guitar and drums, i added the bass, and then we got Rhymefest to lay down some vocals. and you'll see on the disc that the name of the group is Rhymefest. that's just how it works. people care more about the man on the mic. anyways, please don't assume that my opinion about rap as a genre is based solely on "shitty mainstream rap", because it's slightly more informed than that, though i admit i haven't put in extensive time researching all rap acts so i can find more that i like. because i don't get into rap so much, in general. also, mainstream rap has presented me with some stuff i enjoy, too, i don't think i ever said that all mainstream rap is bad. but yeah, if i was really informed, i probably would've known before five minutes ago that N.E.R.D. and the Neptunes are the same folks. if N.E.R.D. was pop mainstream, instead of indie mainstream, i'd probably already have known that. because of friends of mine, i've heard of (and heard) N.E.R.D. , though i never heard of the Neptunes.

and your postulation that if you like "rock" music, that would somehow mean that you are then obligated to like *ALL* rock bands is kinda silly, too. i don't even think this would be possible for most people to do. nobody (i hope) is saying that ALL rap is crap, or that ALL rap is not crap. really, both of those positions would end up being indefensible, and anybody with enough free time, motivation, and skill could actually put together a rap group that would disprove either of those statements to the person who made it. obviously it would be much easier to disprove "all rap is not crap". that'd take about ten minutes. saying "all rap is crap" would be much harder to invalidate, though it could be done. it would just require determining and focusing the project on the specific likes of the person making the statement.
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Postby djanes1 on Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:44 am

and your postulation that if you like "rock" music, that would somehow mean that you are then obligated to like *ALL* rock bands is kinda silly, too. i don't even think this would be possible for most people to do. nobody (i hope) is saying that ALL rap is crap, or that ALL rap is not crap. really, both of those positions would end up being indefensible, and anybody with enough free time, motivation, and skill could actually put together a rap group that would disprove either of those statements to the person who made it. obviously it would be much easier to disprove "all rap is not crap". that'd take about ten minutes. saying "all rap is crap" would be much harder to invalidate, though it could be done. it would just require determining and focusing the project on the specific likes of the person making the statement.


read what i said again.

I think most of us here would describe ourselves as fans of 'rock' music. Does this mean we have to enjoy Creed, Bush, and all their shitty imitators in order to qualify as fans of the genre? fuck no. Just because 50 cent sucks doesn't mean i can't enjoy all the great stuff coming out on the Def Jux label, or the 'golden era' acts of the late 80s.


What i said was that it is understood that liking a genre can liking some of it, not all of it. you can't write off rock music because of post-grunge bands, and you can't write off hip hop because of gangsta rap. so i guess we're in agreement there.

Also, I consider Public Enemy and the Roots to be hip hop music. If you are enjoying Public Enemy or the Roots, then you are enjoying hip hop music. It sounds pretty logical to me.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:14 am

aw hell, i apologize. i clearly misunderstood what you were saying with the rock genre example. i completely agree that you don't have to like everything a genre offers to like the genre in its totality. again, sorry about that.
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Postby tmidgett on Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:53 am

i only wish there was a stronger presence in the rap mainstream today of forward-thinking, socially critical, yet still *positive* artists whose message promotes enlightenment (as PE did), rather than the negativity i see in folks promoting bling and thongs.


1. why do people expect 'forward-thinking, socially critical, yet still *positive* artists' from rap music? would you expect this from rock and roll? are the sex pistols or the stooges 'positive?'

it's fine with me that 50 cent gets shot all the time and used to be a crack dealer. what the fuck do i care? 'in da club' is no worse for it, any more than krs-one's recent output is made any better by his edutainmentismism.

2. PE promoted a lot of things, but enlightenment was promoted mainly in the service of suggesting that class war might be a good idea. which was great. since it's music, it didn't incite class war, and in the end everyone got off on it.

also, the hook is the thing with rap. it's all hooks. some of them are vocal rhythms, some of them are beats, some of them are instrumental squiggles. but if you listen to hip hop radio for twenty minutes, you'll turn it off with something in your head that will stay with you for a while.

like this:

what's the hook gon' be
uh oh
i don't need no fuckin' hook on this beat
all i need is the track in the background
my headphones on
and the shit goin' round and round

i think that's a murphy lee single i heard a couple times
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Postby Dylan on Wed Jan 28, 2004 11:42 am

I think I'll go with NOT CRAP. I agree with Mr. Janes about how difficult it is to dismiss an entire genre when I do in fact love certain records in that genre. I will also agree with Mr. Helicopters about the "thug"-style rap. There's something really crass about selling black-on-black violence which seems to transcend even the vilest rock music I can think of. I hate that thug shit, but it sells, so what can you do? Maybe if we all downloaded it, the artists would go bankrupt. He he.
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Postby Mr. Chimp on Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:01 pm

This is an interesting discussion, one that I've been maintaining on and on for several years.

The genre of rap is not crap. Rap/hip hop as an art form is a necessary part of the pantheon of music. It is a valid vehicle for social expression, and innovative music construction.

That being said, rap, for the most part, is simple. For the most part, you have a guy either spinning records, or creating a simple, hooky music bed, and then you have a vocalist or vocalists displaying varying degrees of linguistic eloquence.

That is the base tenet of rap. Certainly there are leaders who catapult beyond this simple framework - PE, NWA, De La Soul, Missy Elliot/Timbaland, Wu-Tang, Outkast, BDP, to name a random few.

But the problem with rap, just like with rock or R&B is that there are copycats who don't seem (from an outsider's perspective) to recognize that not only are rap's "figureheads" good at defining space, they also push the limit. "Copycats" seem to languish in the space defined.

This is what keeps me uninterested in rap as a whole. It's very easy for a cat with minimal studio knowledge to crib and/or slap some beat down, find a vocalist who can speak, and pump out a record.

To me this is typified by rap artists who's hit singles are a mess from a cohesive standpoint. Everyone knows that of which I speak, the songs that sound like the vocals were recorded without the backing track being played in their headphones, with good flows and rhymes, but on a whole disjointed and fighting with the rhythm bed.

Conjecture on this point leads me to postulate that perhaps many
"freestyle" artists are let loose just to flow, and then those vocal tracks are flown in on top of pre-existing beds.

If this be the case (and if it walks like a duck...etc.) then it is not artistry.
This is product.

And by all appearances, it is very easy to produce rap product. Thanks, Puffy.

Okay. Perhaps this is not the case. Then somebody explain Busta Rhymes to me.
A bud of mine tried to tell me that Busta was all about "busting the rhymes," not as "busting out the rhymes" but as "busting the conventions."


I examined different examples, but ultimately it still sounded analagous to me taking a vocal track from my band and putting it on top of one of your band's songs. Interesting in concept, and possibly coincidentally good, but most likely a mess.

And I am stunned that this disjointed "product" type rap is popular (or that the artists can even lip sync the lines in their videos - Explain the hook for "Bad Boys for Life," Mr. Diddy) when artists like Eric B. and Rakim and Ice Cube et. al. work the beats and deliver sounds that are top-tech stainless steel machines that blow your head off like Gentleman Weissenberger's tale of "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back."

Now, producers, that's another tale for another post. But good ones are as integrated and important to my collective experience of music just as Hendrix or Miles or Yo Yo Ma or Rey Washam.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:26 pm

Tim,

actually, yes, i do expect the same from rock artists. well, i don't *expect* it from rock any more than i expect it from rap, but i do *perfer* it. given a case where the music is good and identical, but the vocals fall into these different categories, here's how it breaks down for me personally...

i like stuff where there is no decipherable meaning to the words or possibly very few actualy real words, where it's much more about 'vocals' than it is about 'lyrics' (i.e. melvins-type stuff)

i *really* like stuff with a thoughtful and progressive message (like the band Death, for example)

i can certainly tolerate lyrics that're about stuff that i don't give two shits about. like most of what i've heard from britney spears, for example.

but when it comes to an entire movement that's centered around a degenerative negativity that reinforces existing problems rather than addressing them in a way that promotes their solution (specifically ganksta rap, not hip-hop) that i have seen evidence of kids latching onto, that's when i get upset.

considering the music itself to be equal in all cases.

here's something for you. slayer. slayer is the perfect example, i think. their music, especially stuff like Reign In Blood, was amazing, and very important in a lot of ways. BUT, their message is for shit. granted, no question from me on that one. do i like slayer? yeah, much of their older shit, i do. do i think people are entitled to talk serious shit on slayer for their lyrical content? absolutely. if someone put up a rant about how slayer's lyrics have been a source of inspiration for the neo-nazi movement in america, i wouldn't dispute it. but i would also make sure that in the discussion, the real problem was addressed, which goes much deeper than the existence of slayer or bands like them. if your argument is that ganksta rap itself is no more to blame for the problems that kids have today than slayer is to blame for the recruitment of teenage neo-nazis, i agree whole-heartedly. at the same time, i would acknowledge that neither slayer nor ganksta rap are a source of positivity or progress, and i would point out that ganksta rap is is contributing more toward a shit future with more problems than slayer is, solely because of questions of scope. if the satanic neo-nazi lifestyle was as celebrated and popular as the thug life, i think we'd have a society with even more problems than it does now, with those problems getting worse and not better as we move forward. if mainstream pop music shifts from ganksta rap to satanic neo-nazi metal, i think we're in big trouble, and you'll hear me rant about that one just as much if not more than i rant about ganksta rap.

food for thought. check out these lyrics...

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/mystikal ... ldier.html

you think that's anything that's gonna help kids out, or hurt them, or neither, or who cares? i tend to think it's encouraging folks to take an existing problem and rather than try to seek positive ways to rise above it, to wallow in it. do i understand the plight of folks growing up in the ghetto? not by a long shot. can i look at these lyrics and make a statement about how i think they will reinforce a shitty state of affairs? i say yes.

and if you would say 50-cent and krs-one are equally 'better' or 'worse' in terms of their impact on youth culture, i think you're nuts. granted 50-cent maybe has better music, and is less of a dork, and maybe is better all around in terms of his craft. but if you wouldn't choose krs-one's underlying ideology over 50-cents underlying ideology, ignoring the difference in how they present it (music, phrasing, etc), i can only say "wow".

re: PE and class war... if i got the impression that in chuck d's heart, his answer was "get a gun and get as much money as you can", i wouldn't ever speak in favor of PE. am i in favor of elevating minorities and folks in situations of poverty? yes. am i in favor of folks accumulating cars, bitches, and money? fuck no. it seems to me like ganksta rap is more about trying to elevate oneself into the realm of 'the man' while maintaining some amount of ghetto cred, which i find absurd, rather than being about finding an effective way to actually address the problem at its root. kinda like the war on terror. if it addressed the roots of the problem, it'd be much more likely that good would come of it, in my estimation. an example of a guy who i'd love to see be the most popular pop artist of the moment would be Aaron McGruder, author of The Boondocks. i think if ganksta rap never came into favor, but messages more like PE's or McGruder's or any number of other like-minded folks did take over the mainstream, there might be a chance of the actual underlying problems being addressed and repaired. i think the thugs only serve to impede this progress.

and lastly, i find myself agreeing that the hook is a major element to most pop songs' success.
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Postby tmidgett on Wed Jan 28, 2004 1:39 pm

and if you would say 50-cent and krs-one are equally 'better' or 'worse' in terms of their impact on youth culture, i think you're nuts. granted 50-cent maybe has better music, and is less of a dork, and maybe is better all around in terms of his craft. but if you wouldn't choose krs-one's underlying ideology over 50-cents underlying ideology, ignoring the difference in how they present it (music, phrasing, etc), i can only say "wow".


thing is, i NEVER listen to music with its 'underlying ideology' in mind. i don't think promotion of an ideology should be music's primary function. music that takes this on as a primary goal almost always sucks.

i shudder to think of the records i'd have to play if this were important to me

i listen to music with only a desire to be moved, and if it moves me, it wins, to one degree or another

if 50 cent "has better music, and is less of a dork, and maybe is better all around in terms of his craft" than krs-one, then 50 cent wins, b/c he is a musician, not a candidate for public office. i wouldn't say he is the winner anyway, given the first two boogie down productions records. but those records, lest we forget, are also called _criminal minded_ and _by all means necessary_, and they both feature krs packing heat on their covers. i don't know where that leaves him in terms of his ideology at that point and time. i just know he (or scott la rock as the case may be) made better music back then.

and i don't see how you can trumpet "stuff where there is no decipherable meaning to the words or possibly very few actualy real words" and even have ideology as part of the discussion

if it comes down to 'i like not knowing, but if i know, i want it to say something nice, at least if it's rap,' then yeah, you pretty much have to vote crap. there are very few hiphop artists who are going to leave you wondering.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Wed Jan 28, 2004 2:19 pm

so it should be up to politicians to worry about ideology, and mainstream artists (who potentially have the biggest influence on youth culture) should just do whatever makes a buck, with total disregard for the results of their product?

"thing is, i NEVER listen to music with its 'underlying ideology' in mind. i don't think promotion of an ideology should be music's primary function. music that takes this on as a primary goal almost always sucks."

that's a big part of my point. YOU don't listen to music for it's ideology, and you probably have your own opinions and your own ideology, and all is fine and well. but 15 year old kids, who are in the process of developing an ideolgy, who don't see things through the same eyes as us old folk, aren't looking at ideology either. they just like you, are going with whatever moves them, and also to probably a much larger extent than you, what is presented to them. and they're ingesting it and adopting it as their own identity. without regard to the big picture of the underlying ideology. it's seen as "i too can get myself some money and power through the thug life. hrm, sounds much better than working my ass off to get the best education i can and leave this whole shit scene behind me". when really it's NOT better. in the big picture.

maybe i'm way outta line on all this and nobody should ever give a shit about the psychological or subconscious effects that anything has on anyone. i tend to think it's important that people think about and make projections and estimations about the future. nobody has a crystal ball, i know, but some trends are worth acknowledging and addressing before they go too far. like the state of affairs with terrorism for example... which is essentially what thug life is based on. terrorism without any deliberate sense of ideology, just a desire for money and power. right on!

and as far as trumpeting stuff with no decipherable meaning, i'm suprised that you don't understand. getting on a stage and singing "oh, oh, ohhhhhh, ohhhhhh, oh, oh oh" for forty minutes is probably not gonna incite anyone to throw their life away in pursuit of money and power rather than work towards growth or betterment. it may or may not be a waste of time, but i think it's wholly different from getting on a stage and selling folks on the idea that you fucking rule because you sold drugs to get money to buy guns and an escallade so you could kill your enemies. don't you see in much rap, especially ganksta rap, that a core tool is to sell people on the idea that you fucking rule? that whole "i fucking rule" routine makes this all so much worse, it's not just talking about a concept, but it's making a concerted effort to convince people that you fucking rule, which i think will invariably lead to immitation in those who really buy into it.

if you don't see that there are consequences and results from actions whether you set out to produce them or not, then i don't know what to say. i'm not saying anyone has to set out specifically to produce a certain cultural result, and in almost all cases that would probably be futile anyways (though i bet you could name some bands that did just fine with a major platform of 'rise above' type mentality) but i do think there is a responsibility to be aware of the effect you're having if you're multiplatinum and a major, major influence on an entire culture. that's just my opinion.

"i like not knowing, but if i know, i want it to say something nice, at least if it's rap," - is that what it looks like i'm saying?
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Wed Jan 28, 2004 2:32 pm

right here. this is what i'm talking about. this hits the nail on the head.

http://www.ohhla.com/anonymous/delasoul ... es.dls.txt
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Postby tmidgett on Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:35 pm

so it should be up to politicians to worry about ideology, and mainstream artists (who potentially have the biggest influence on youth culture) should just do whatever makes a buck, with total disregard for the results of their product?


no

i put a lot of stock in walking it like you talk it, but people don't have to walk or talk it my way

if someone's music is good, it will have the ring of truth, artfully rendered. and if that truth is ugly, so be it. i can get into it or not, but i wouldn't discard it or vilify it by any means.

please note the one-way street--plenty music has the ring of truth but is not good

if someone's just blowing about being tuff, and it doesn't amount to anything much, i have as little use for that as you do

YOU don't listen to music for it's ideology, and you probably have your own opinions and your own ideology, and all is fine and well. but 15 year old kids[...]


i had the same attitude when i was fifteen

fifteen-year-old kids aren't necessarily that dumb. not even often. not even usually.

i just don't have any use for this argument. the velvet underground may have inspired some kids to do heroin. n.w.a. may have inspired some kids to hate cops. skrewdriver may inspire some kids to beat up black people. none of this music has this effect on me or anyone i know, but i knew people in high school who fixed on the most violent and thuggish aspects of punk rock and took them on as their own. they were fuckers, is all.

people who are predisposed to engage in that kind of behavior will find a reason to do it anyway. even if they wouldn't, i don't think it's worth putting the artist on trial for something somebody else does.

i don't think artists have a responsibility to be good role models. they have a responsibility to lay it out there as art, and laying it out there for real precludes the kind of second-guessing you're talking about.

i do think misogynist, racist, homophobic, and misanthropic viewpoints need to prove it artistically a bit more than other things, but that's just b/c it's harder to get past the subject matter.

guns'n'roses never said anything more offensive than ice cube does on _death certificate_. but their music was so stupid and bad most of the time that their 'immigrants and faggots' bullshit was unacceptable to me. _death certificate_ is probably more offensive on the face of it, more relentlessly so, but it is great music, it's fierce, it's funny. so i have no problem with it.

if it's impossible for you to get past the subject matter, so much so that it ruins a whole genre of music for you, then okey doke. it's impossible for me to get past people in plays spontaneously breaking into song, which is why i hate musicals, even though i'm sure i like at least two of them.
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Postby SchnappM on Wed Jan 28, 2004 5:37 pm

The whole "pre-determined to be an asshole" idea is kind of strange. I mean, if you look at it, the crime rate in an inner-city area predominantely occupied by black people would be higher, right? I'm not bullshitting on this as far as I know. Does this mean that environment has no effect on people's upbringing? It would seem that that argument would say that black people are more likely pre-determined to be criminals, and that's not something I'm really willing to accept.

Now, hold on, because it seems like I might have just implied you were racist. That's not really my intention. I'm just trying to say that, as far as I know, a person is defined by their pre-disposition (who they are at birth) and their upbringing. But, nobody knows which is more important, I mean, there have been hundreds of studies and it's all inconclusive. Nobody can say for certain and it likely varies from person to person.

Now, if your friends were influenced to follow the "punk" lifestyle and become assholes, that could have absolutely nothing to do with the music they listened to, or it could have everything. I doubt even they would know for certain. However, maybe I'm being naive here, but I would consider neo-nazism to be a much lesser problem than urban violence. That's because most logical people will see a Nazi and laugh, but when they see a gangsta, they accept it. That's because people like Eminem and 50 Cent have been in popular culture already for a while, and so we've become used to it. For an alternative example, look at Michael Jackson- if he came from nowhere looking like he does now, he would universally be considered a figure of ridicule. However, since he has gradually evolved to his present state, people will still defend him or go out and buy his CDs. Likewise, if I see a thug or wigger (these are more common here on Long Island) walking down the street I'm not going to be too shocked, and given the conditioning I have been given, I wouldn't necessarily prejudge this person. For all I know, he could be a rocket scientist or something, and it would be racist to consider that he's a total asshole just because he dresses like a rapper.

In contrast, if I saw a skinhead with jackboots and suspenders walking down the street, I would not feel too bad criticizing him before I even heard him speak. Realistically, though, since the "thug" has become such a large part of modern culture, that stereotype is capable of doing far more damage.

The problem isn't that young people are exposed to different ideas at an early age. Theoretically, this would never be a problem- if I show a kid Nazi propaganda and then show him a MLK speech, he will be influenced by them to equal extents or so, and eventually he will come to a rational conclusion regarding both. Logically, if the kid is predetermined to be an asshole, he will choose the ideology most suited to him, and if the kid is not dumb, he will also come to a conclusion that makes the most sense to him. In any case, protecting kids from any viewpoints that go against the current moral standards would be a shitty thing to do, because eventually they'll learn about it one way or another.

HOWEVER, if a kid grows up in a situation where he idolizes 50 Cent because he's such a hardass (hey, he got shot NINE TIMES) and in a society that values only violence, drugs, and whores, then there's virtually no way he'll grow up to be adjusted. If you were able to listen to it and end up alright, that's fine for you, but are you suggesting that black people in the inner city are more suggestible?

The common reason given for the current situation is that black people were held back for so long that they didn't have enough time to catch up yet, and that even now there are still unbalanced circumstances, such as worse schools in city areas and stuff like that. I can see the point of this argument, and it makes sense to me. After all, there has to be something to explain it, because an imbalance is impossible to deny. What is necessary to realize that music is not just music, it is nearly a lifestyle. It is uncommon to see a guy decked out in Fubu and bling and talk in ebonics who listens to predominately Led Zeppelin, and it is also unlikely that you will see some guy with shoulder length hair in jeans and a t-shirt who listens to mostly Jay-Z. Rap music (and any other music for that matter) has more of an influence than its lyrical content- the kids want to emulate the rapper lifestyle, which is basically what is discussed in the songs in the first place. So even if they were to completely ignore the lyrical content of rap, the bad influence would still be there.

Anyway, I've wrote way too much and doubt anybody's even reading up to this point. The main thing I have a problem with is this: "people who are predisposed to engage in that kind of behavior will find a reason to do it anyway. even if they wouldn't, i don't think it's worth putting the artist on trial for something somebody else does."
Based on what I've just said, this view is impossible to take without saying that there's something within the black race that is inherently different that predisposes them to a certain type of lifestyle. True, you will always have criminals and viscious people who don't even listen to music in the first place, but it seems that a lot of the problems with crime in today's world don't even have to do with "stealing to survive" or what could even be considered "necessary crime." It just seems as if a lot of people are violent (especially gang-related) just because it's what seems to be popular.

I hope I don't come across as a racist or total asshole because I don't believe that I am either. I'm just trying to contribute something to the discussion. For the record I'm 17 years old and I live in the suburbs so you can take everything I say with a grain of salt, because for what it's worth I've lived a pretty sheltered life so far. For what it's worth I don't have a problem getting along with black people but I despise most wiggers because I have never met one of above average intelligence.
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Postby toomanyhelicopters on Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:55 pm

tim, i think i can happily agree to disagree a little. i dunno if this is accurate or not, but it kinda seems like i have a more progressive perspective on it, whereas yours seems more libertarian or populist? granted i never once advocated any kinda legislature or government intervention on the matter of ganksta rap, because i think that would be wrong. but it seems to me like your perspective is more about personal liberty and freedom to speak one's mind above all else. which is right americanly of you. so i think i can appreciate where you're coming from.

last night while i was pissing in the shower, i was thinking about people other than myself whose opinions i really value on this matter, who i believe have the same perspective on this as i do. and aside from de la soul (those lyrics, to "stakes is high" may very well have been part of the process through which i developed my opinion on this matter) i had a frightening revelation... in my head appeared KRS-ONE, specifically his rap segment on REM's "radio song", which kinda seemed to convey the same sentiment, even if it appears more focused on the corporate shittiness aspect, the line "DJ's communicate to the masses, sex and violent classes" seemed to ring true to the spirit of my concern. so i was glad, knowing that even if my opinion on the matter stems from a white, upper-middle-class upbringing and art school education, it appears to be in line with the opinion of folks like de la and KRS-ONE.

cheers maign
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Postby Bradley R. Weissenberger on Thu Jan 29, 2004 9:07 pm

toomanyhelicopters wrote:i had a frightening revelation... in my head appeared KRS-ONE, specifically his rap segment on REM's "radio song", which kinda seemed to convey the same sentiment, even if it appears more focused on the corporate shittiness aspect, the line "DJ's communicate to the masses, sex and violent classes" seemed to ring true to the spirit of my concern. so i was glad, knowing that even if my opinion on the matter stems from a white, upper-middle-class upbringing and art school education, it appears to be in line with the opinion of folks like de la and KRS-ONE.

KRS-ONE is okay good rap man. Not great these time, but was okay good about, oh, three record maybe. People think he so smart. He talk about the philosophy and the religions and the peaces sometime, but I think he not so smart with these thing.

But he also to make of the guns! My god! He is to kill the other peoples in his songs! He say in "Bo Bo Bo" this thing:

"On the ground was a bottle of Snapple
I broke the bottle in his fucking Adam's apple
As he fell his partner called for backup
I had the shotgun and began to act up"

Then he shoot cop dead in song! Oh my god! He also make of the song "100 Guns" and "9mm Goes Bang"! The people, they all to die in these song! I no know, but these song, they have the violent to me!

Mr. Toomanyhelicopters, I no think you know so much of the rap songs! You always talking the major label MTV rap guy! But maybe you like the Schooly D or the Audio Two? Maybe the Just Ice? He pretty good. Or maybe the Edan? He real good. Maybe you to like these guy, but I no think so! You to talk about the R.E.M. rap! Is no rap!

Maybe you okay nice, Mr. Toomanyhelicopters, but you talking rap like the Rolling Stones magazines talking rap! So I think you first maybe to learn the rap and then you to talk the rap. Okay fine!
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