Saturday, February 28, 2009

Putting the "rap" back in "crap"

I have a confession: I used to listen to rap music. Please, don't look at me that way. I can't say that I was a victim of my surroundings because I don't feel like I was a victim of anything. When I listened to it, I actually enjoyed it. There was just something fantastic hearing Tupac tell about Brenda having a baby. I enjoyed listening to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony mourn for those they lost in "Tha Crossroads." I still love looking back at Queen Latifah screaming her rage about the frequent uses of "bitch" and "ho" when referring to women. I miss those days.

Unfortunately, rap is like any other musical genre in that it changes over time. Where Tupac used to rap about how bad life in the ghetto was, rappers today would rather glorify the drug use, drug dealing, promiscuity, and crime that keep people down. Where Bone asked, "can somebody, anybody tell me why we die?" rappers today would rather "leave in a body bag, but never in cuffs." While Queen Latifah asked for some respect as a woman, we have rappers today talking about making "females crawl;" and that's the edited version.

Even recently, we had a movie about the tragic life of Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace, which didn't seem to think anything of his hesitation to vow faithfulness at his wedding, of his lack of hesitation to break said vow, or even of him selling drugs to a pregnant woman, because that's the way things are in the ghetto. One of my favorite rap lyrics from one of my favorite rap artists says, "It's sad 'cuz I bet Brenda doesn't even know just 'cuz you're in the ghetto doesn't mean you can't grow." Mr. Shakur didn't think that you had to remain where you were. That's not the message we're hearing today. Today, we're hearing about sex, drugs, and crime, with very few of those messages containing any amount of repentance, regret, or a want for others to learn from these mistakes.

And songwriting has been replaced by adding ridiculous sound effects (see M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes). Clever rhyming has been replace by repetition of stupid lyrics (see Akon's "Right Now"). People are even taking the need for talent out of music by letting a computer sing for them (see anything by Akon or T-Pain).

But, that's all my rant about secular rap music. It's a little comforting to know that there are still some people who want to rap about something better than themselves. With that, I leave you with music videos for the only 2 songs I've ever bought on iTunes. Enjoy!