Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Confession Time


OK I’ll admit it… On February 21 I mentioned in a post that I was digging the group, The Flobots and I told the rap resistant folks that they didn’t have to read any further. Since that time I became totally fascinated with rap and at this point I am totally consumed.

I started listening to Eminem, the Marshall Mathers album. From there I went Dr. Dre, with which I was totally unimpressed, but then I spent some time listening to Snoop Dogg, and then I landed on Nate Dogg whose voice is very reminiscent of Ike Willis, Frank Zappa’s studio singer. Sure, a lot of the content is disturbing and vulgar. There is a lot of corny gun fire sounds and the over use of bells that sound like the Taco Bell gong when a feeling of gravitas is intended. There is a lot of posturing for brand recognition (who the rapper is), but one must dig deeper to get to the heart of it all.

At the heart you will find the voice of poverty induced despair that may have been overcome but never forgotten. There is the voice of bad decision making without regret to the point where making bad decisions becomes a way of life and a source of inspiration.

Also at the heart you will see a lot of humor and play; be it by making up words or using sound or voices in a funny way. There is also a hint of acknowledgement that everyone is just role playing and you came to hear a show so here it is.

Most importantly at the heart there is the music that lies beneath all the words. It takes me back to my love for the minimalist musical movement. Repetitive themes of interesting riffs and sounds and dance beats run like a river beneath nearly every song. I would love to be able to listen to all this stuff without the words because it is well produced, remarkable and most interesting. The music is stand-alone good.

I am not encouraging the weak of heart to go out and buy any rap collection, but I do implore all who find themselves somewhere where rap is being played to take a good listen. Don’t resist. There is much more there than what meets the ear. A hundred years from now this stuff will be viewed and revered as Urban Folk music.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bling bling...errr...ummmm...I mean blink blink. Sorry Guy...no redeeming qualities seen in rap. How can rap be seen as a step up from motown or soul or rhythm and blues. I guess I'm officially an old fogey now...

Moose

7:41 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

>>>Confession Time<<<

You may remember from your catholic years that confession by it's self is not enough.

Positive change comes when one confesses and then turns away from the offensive ways.

Toddley-doo!........

1:25 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moose, send me your address and I'll send you a CD that will change your mind.

Gearhead, you should know by now that I'm going to hell. I confess, but I'm unrepentant.

5:52 PM  
Blogger g said...

you are speaking greek. i hope you get through this phase of your life.
if i can make it through politics, you can make it through rap.

hopefully you haven't yet resorted to buying a subwoofer.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Joni said...

I have never warmed up to rap in the (wow) almost 2 decades since it's been around.

I don't mind the ones that actually do some SINGING, but the "kill those cops" and "beat my woman" rappers can just fade away as far as I'm concerned.

I hope you get over this soon...I would hate that it might influence your (to date) wonderful blogs!

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Joni said...

Ohhhh...and if you really have a CD that might change my mind, I'd be open to listening.

mcgiz2@yahoo.com

9:43 PM  
Blogger Vinnie Vinnetti said...

Listen mate, I'm not saying that all rap is bad.
I've dabbled in some myself. But to say that it's "the voice of poverty induced despair" is outlandish.
They're talking about drugs, hos, and shooting down "niggas" in cold blood.
Have a seat in front of MTV and watch Cribs and tell me about Nelly or 50 Cent's poverty.
Houses, cars, clothing lines, record companies, jewelry, and "fine bitches" are poverty like a grenade isn't lethal.
You're closer to poverty than they are.
While I'm not putting down their talent (rapping isn't easy) don't be fooled by the glamor.

11:04 PM  
Blogger Auntie said...

hey, Guy, you got a new reader!

12:50 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

g, no room for a sub woofer. Too much clutter in the truck.

Joni, I'm thinking the cop killing stuff went out with NWA and Ice T. There is still a lot of posturing, but you have to realize it is an act as much any movie. It's like listening to The Godfather The Musical. Sure many of the rappers have records of violent crimes in the past, but so do many film actors. And Joni, I only made that offer to Moose, because I know his musical taste and his sense of humor well enough to turn his head around.

Vinnie, I hear you, but these guys remember their roots. When they sing about where they came from they seem to understand that they are lottery winners and their music is often the anthems for those that haven't yet escaped the environment. Just the feeling I get. And you are right, good rapping is a difficult timing to get down. It's not as off the cuff as one might think.

Auntie, maybe or maybe a passerby. All are welcome here. No comittment necessary.

5:26 AM  
Blogger darev2005 said...

Since I deleted my comment yesterday (I was all out of sorts and a bit rude. I do apologize), I'll just go ahead and agree. With everybody. It's all a matter of taste. Mine runs differently. One of my main objections to rap is the repetitive use of the word "niggaz". And for some strange reason they insist that it has no relation to the root word. I despise the word in both forms.
And FYI, your newest reader is a mate of mine. He's a good cat. I'll shut up now.

7:52 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, I value all your comments, especially since you see all kinds of shit the rest of us never get to see.

As for their use of the N word, it's their culture and they can do what they want. I'm sure they use it to evoke their history and injustices done to them. It's pretty common in all walks of life, just how I have a certain pride and shame of hailing from New Jersey. Another group that I see frequently shining a light on their good deeds and stereotypical faults are the Jews. I'm sure I could spark a debate here, but this is the way it all seems to me. As for rap, I find all the dirty language pretty funny.

8:22 AM  
Blogger dalia said...

ok, i resisted positing for a while, since rap isn't my favourite genre, but really everyone here is dismissing rap based on what they hear in mainstream.

guys like mos def, common, and even kanye (not his radio stuff), outkast, andre 3000 all speak to issues that are relevant and ask thought-provoking questions. they speak about shit that makes you THINK, and even if you don't love rap, it MUST be said that at LEAST the first rapper i mentioned has skill beyond the "ordinary" rapper.

no one ever considers how HARD it is to come up with three minutes of commentary in a way that captures the attentions of all - white/black, rich/poor, educated/not. no one single genre has captured an audience the way rap has.

just like with pop music, there are bands that do bad for the entire scene, but like guy, i urge you ALL - every single one of you to step outside yourselves and listen to/research/find one good hip hop song and REALLY listen to it.

kanye west (the son of a teacher!) talks about the blood diamond crisis in sierra leone, surviving a near-fatal car crash, hypocrisy in religion;

mos def speaks of pollution, abortion, and corruption

talib kweli (the son of english professor and sociology professors) - raps about sociopolictical issues!

common talks about racial discord, loving self, positivity

vinnie talks about glamourizing the "thug life" but you know what, 50 cent lived it and for a guy who took over 10 bullets, i'd let him rap about it. that's HIS life, but there are a lot of pretenders out there. you also mention mainstream hiphop. you "dabbled" in it, then you should know a lot more about it to take a stance contrary to the one you posted here.

let go of stereotypes people and just open your minds (and ears) for half a minute.

damn.

< / soapbox rant >

9:56 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Dalia, I have nothing to add to that. You get it!

4:17 AM  

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