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Rap Essay, Research Paper
Rap Not Rest in Peace (12/01/98)
In this day in age rap has changed in so many more ways then one. From its start in the 80s on the East Coast, to its explosion and transformation on the West Coast. Today RAP has earned itself a first name, and as you all may know its gangster RAP. Gangster Rap today has become a way of life for many fans. Often being misunderstood gangster Rappers have been blamed for glorifying the gangster way of life.
Gangster Rappers such as Snoop Dog, 2Pac, Ice T, Ice Cube and the Geto Boyz have been harassed time and time again by critics, for there explicit lyrics and glorified way of rapping about there lives as gangsters. Many times being at the wrong place at the wrong time often proves critics right, for example snoop dogs murder case and 2pacs fatal shooting in Las Vegas Nevada. All though we have been told time and time over we can never let go of the hook and reel that rap hands to us. Being a rap fan myself it has never been a problem for me, not to pick up a gun and shoot someone after listening to a good Rapper talk to me. Being that I am the master of my life, I can control my own decisions. If a fan of gangster rap picks up a gun and shoots someone it is there own stupidity and not the responsibility of the Rapper.
Using rap as a scapegoat for all the problems of the world is what I would call, cowards and ignorant for those writers looking for something to write about. Rapper and writer ‘KNVRS’ tells Rap world” rap is an art and should be respected as one, I do understand that there are some Rappers out there, not very many but there is some Rappers that give other Rappers a bad name. And we make no claim for those few’.
Some people think that the reasons that rap has been getting so much controversy, is because it is so different from other types of music. But it isn’t as different as some people may think. Rap consists of the same basic parts as any other type of music, those being expression and enjoyment. Just because it appeals to the younger crowds isn’t enough grounds to say it is wrong to listen to.
If I were to say that country is nothing but A bunch of drunken cow ridding red necks would I be right? Or if I were to say that classical is for nothing but limp lifeless self-centered wannabes would I also be right? And the same goes for all other types of music. This is simply a matter of different taste and nothing more.
Jesse Quiroz “RBA WORLD”
Soul Music As a Vehicle of Social Expression
Music is the most powerful vehicle of human expression. As the embodiment of love, disapproval, happiness, experience ? life, music speaks to us, because it comes from us. Each people, in each paradine of the human experience instinctively and systematically change the music of the past to represent the realities of the present. In this century, black music, more specifically Soul music, has been that music that has brought to plain view that which evidences our humanity ? hope, hurt, joy and passion ? in such a way that the world has no other choice than to feel its power and marvel in its brilliance. When one discusses the relationship between Soul music and the civil rights movement, it becomes a dialouge very akin to that of the chicken and the egg. The period of ?Classic Soul? is that period primarily, but not exclusively referenced as the 1950?s, 60?s and 70?s (Stephenson 186). This is the time frame of the American Civil Rights Movement, and the impact of the massive changes going on, are reflected in the music and the culture. So one would be correct in both assuming that the Civil Rights Movement gave rise to Soul music, as much Soul music contributed to the success of the campaign for civil rights. Soul music during its heyday, did more than simply entertain. For a race of people it served as a source of motivation, strength and education, for a people immersed in turmoil and tragedy. The institution of segregation had effectively inhibited the general populace?s awareness of the great achievements and contributions made by African-americans throughout the history of the United States (Franklin 429). Inasmuch, Soul music sought to bring that undersight to light. Soul songs like Donny Hathaway?s ?To Be Young, Gifted and Black,? was revolutionary, in that they sought to instill pride of one?s history, but at the same time motivate a new generation to reach new heights. As Hathaway says, ?We must begin to tell our young, ?Don?t you know that there is a whole world waiting for you???, he is calling for the teaching of black pride to the youth, which was a wide spread trend in black communities of the ?60s and ?70s (Hathaway). James Brown?s ?Say It Loud, I?m Black and I?m Proud,? became an anthem for the movement (Brown). The song?s lyrics like, ??.Don?t quit moving, until we get what we deserve?we?d rather die on our feet, than keep living on our knees,? were words of inspiration for those involved in the struggle for equality. ?Whereas the predominant theme of rhythm and blues was love and other kind of human relationships, soul singers voiced concern about the social injustice, racial pride, black militancy, and forms of protest (Southern 517).? Eileen Southern?s statement on Soul music greatly describes the type of works produced by Hathaway and Brown at the time, yet was definetly not exclusive to these two artists. The period wherein Soul intertwined with the Civil Rights Movement, produced music greatly influenced by the environment in which its creators lived. Donny Hathaway?s, ?Ghetto,? and Marvin Gaye?s ?Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler),? speak of the harshness of life in the Inner City (Hathaway/Gaye). Societal ills and political unrest were a major theme of Soul music, and Marvin Gaye?s work, almost more than any other artist, was demonstrative of this fact. Gaye?s album What?s Goin On, was his commentary on the social problems of the period, and through its success tremendously impacted the increasing social awareness. Despair within the black community was given voice in Gaye?s ?Inner City Blues?. Inflation, taxes, unemployment and police brutality were numbered among the themes addressed in the song. The sense of hopelesness of the piece can best be conveyed in the line saying, ?this life ain?t worth the living?.makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands!?(Gaye). ?Save the Children? goes on to ask: ?Who is willing to try and save a world that is destined to die??, yet goes on to say ?live life for the children?let?s save the children (Gaye). So, even in the midst of great despair, Gaye, and other artist of his genre, did believe in the possibility of change. “Ball of Confusion,” debuting in 1970, gave the Temptation’s take on the societal ills plaguing their times. It explored the white migration to the suburbs, urban riots, politicians, etc., as it expressed the sense of turmoil experienced during that time which seemed to all come together in a “Ball of Confusion.” The lyrics state that “the only person talking about love my brother is the preacher?the only person interested in learning is the teacher”(Temptations). These lines express a theme of love and education as the cure to society’s problems. In a deeper sense, it says that people should focus on solutions, not the problems which create despair. In the spirit of this solution-based songwriting, a strong, no-holds-barred message to youth about the importance of getting an education was given voice in October of 1966. James Brown’s “Don’t Be a Drop Out” is a story of a drop out who compares himself to friends who continued their education. The song says, “they kept on pushing when the going got tough, and now they know that things don’t seem so rough”(Brown). James Brown knew the importance of this first hand having no formal education. He implemented a program which encouraged kids to stay in school and gave scholarships for those that wanted to go to college. Brown also worked to improve the quality of education in urban areas. He later releases two anti-drug songs, “King Heroin” and “Public Enemy No. 1.” He had realized the devastation that drugs brought to the black community and the songs were used as the tool to educate blacks about their danger. James had become a role model for black youth not only through his music but through his commitment to the black community, thus serving as a shining example of the lessons of his music. Brown’s message of change by improving currently existing systems was conservative in comparison to some more radical artists. These artists, like the Last Poets, belived that change would only come around through a revolution. The Last Poets who use a combination of spoken word and music in their song “Niggers Are Scared of Revolution” exemplify this. The song addresses apathy in the black community about black revolution and the lack of participation in the movement (Last Poets). Gil Scott Heron is an artist with a similar message. His work “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” discuss the media’s purposeful ommitasnce of pertinent black issues, and the manner in which change will occur. The song “Power to the People” by the Chi-Lites was originally the slogan for the Black Panther Party. “Young, Gifted and Black” by Nina Simone, “People Get Ready” by the Impressions and Edwin Starr’s “War” are just a few of the many songs which drew the black community together to raise social consciousness. Black music, specifically Soul music, will never diasppear. Though the motivation for the music may change nominally, the spirit behind it will always stay the same. Passion, pain, despair, love and hope, will forever remain key elements of the human experience. This truth is the reason in which we have seen Soul music change to fit the times in which it exists. Some hip-hop artists such as De La Soul, Public Enemy and even Arrested Development carried a strong message of social change. Yet, their time too was limited as the black American climate slightly changed. Today artist such as the crowned king and queen of the newly dubbed category of “Neo-classic soul” bear the torch. D’Angelo and Erykah Badu talk about revolution and the state of the black community and relationships. Badu’s “On and On” expresses her thoughts of how she feels that we are born into the middle of a world in constant struggle as she says, “?.my life keeps going like a rollling stone?..I was born under water with three dollars and six dimes (a metaphor to 360 degrees in reference to her never-ending struggle)”(Baduizm). D’Angelo addresses the rampant use of marijuana in his “Brown Sugar” as he writes, “I want some more of your brown sugar?.your love makes me high right to the sky?.my eyes are blood burgundy.” His Devil’s Pie addresses drugs and money (Belly Soundtrack). Both Badu and D’Angelo give their takes on bad relationships in “Tyrone” and “Shit, Damn, Mother Fucker,” respectively. Badu’s “Other Side of the Game” even addresses the issue of being involved with a man who sells drugs. She writes, “Do I really want my baby?..work ain’t honest, but it pays the bills.” The subject matter addressed by Badu and D’Angelo express many of the problems endured by today’s generation, some of which may not have been experienced in the same manner of generations past. Music is an expression of life. Hence, it can only be a reflection of life’s experiences. Soul music speaks directly to the human experience. It attacks the maladies of our existence. It empathizes with our pains, and rejoices in our happiness. Masterfully, has it changed so as that it remains sensitive to our needs today. Only the beat has changed. The Soul of soul, however, the message, will always remain. Works Cited Badu, Erikah. Baduizm. Kedar, 1997. Brown, James. James Brown’s 20 Greatest Hits. Polygram, 1991. D’Angelo. Brown Sugar. EMI, 1995. D’Angelo. Belly Soundtrack. Def Jam, 1998. Gaye, Marvin. Marvin Gaye Anthology. Motown, 1981. Hathaway, Donny. A Donny Hathaway Collection. 1996 Heron, Gil Scott. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Interscop, 1971. Last Poets. The Last Poets. Ultrasound, 1967. Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans. New York; W. W. Norton and Company, 1997
The Hip-Hop Rock Phenomenon
The Hip-Hop/Rock Phenomenon It seems as though you can barely read a magazine or flip on the television without hearing about one of these new hip-hop/rock groups. Media outlets such as Rolling Stone and MTV treat these bands as though miraculously created this ?new? genre of music. Acts such as Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and Sugar Ray are treated though they are creative geniuses when in reality they are only doing things that have already been done before. True some of these new bands are very talented, but bands such Run DMC, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine, blended the seemingly mismatched flavors of rap and rock with brilliant results long before any of these bands had ever even seen a turntable. The earliest recorded example of this fusion of hip-hop and hard rock, came in 1985 with the release of Run DMC?s ?Rock Box?. The song featured a beat which sounded more like an AC/DC instrumental than what your average hip-hop consumer had grown accustomed to, nevertheless underneath the vocals of Run DMC the song was their first bonafied crossover hit. The single even landed them onto heavy rotation on MTV, making Run DMC the first hip-hop group to ever have their video played with the station. The song was only the first of a long string of hits for the group to feature hard rock beats, of course with pumped up bass and the prerequisite turntable scratch. Their success carried over to their remake of Aerosmiths classic ?Walk This Way?, which too became an instant classic. The record also marked the first direct collaboration between a rap group and a rock band. However while Run DMC was a hip-hop group with heavy rock influence, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a perfect example of the exact opposite, a rock band with distinct hip-hop overtones. From as early back to the mid-eighties the Chili Peppers were trendsetters, they were regularly sharing headline in Los Angeles clubs with hip-hop acts, which one must remember was at a time when rap music was frowned upon by the rock community. Either way somewhere on their path they picked up on certain elements from hip-hop music and successfully incorporated them into their eclectic playing style. On recordings such as ?Good Time Boys? from the bands critically acclaimed album Mothers Milk, it is not hard to see that he is indeed rapping to the beat as opposed to the usually singing which one would expect from an alternative band. But the genius lies in the fact that the song retains its original qualities keeping it from becoming a wannabe rap song, yet at the very same time it pushed the creative envelope for music as a whole and also pushing the Chili Peppers onto new creative ground. It was easy see that Run DMC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were bands who while firmly rooted in one genre of music heavily borrowed elements from another genre. However Rage Against the Machine was much different than either one of these bands, it was the true brainchild of both hip-hop and hard rock. It could be argued with that with the release of their first album in 1992, that they were the first rap/rock band to truly be split right down the middle. The band utilized definite hard rock beats that could in no way be confused with any sort of hip-hop beat, however their vocalist Zach De La Rocha could in no way be taken for anything other than a rapper. It was a sharp contrast to the previous attempts to fuse the two styles of music together and the band did it beautifully. De La Rocha, whose previous experience as a rapper in various Los Angeles hip-hop groups, fit perfectly over the hard rock beats provided by his band mates. Fortunately the music scene was finally ready for their sound, which led to the group gaining critical acclaim and modest video play. Despite what the media is trying to sell the public, do not believe the hype. Hip-hop/rock hybrids are nothing new to the music scene, it is just the latest trend beingused to sell magazines and fuel album sales. Which is not necessarily wrong, it is only sad that many artists and fans do not know the origin of the music they love. Nevertheless some of these band are very talented and unfortunately some of them are not, but regardless of whether these bands are talented or not, bear in mind they did not create the artform. Let us hope however they choose to elevate the artform.
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