Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gangster is the problem.

Nice to meet you, but... wrong. Well, partially wrong. Gangsterism, or Thug life is a plague on us all, and rap music just happens to be more deeply afflicted than other parts of society. Pimping has been elevated to equate a modern priesthood, and has replaced drug dealing as the preferred activity to build 'street cred.' But the problem is not rap. That is like saying that guns casue crime. Simply not true. If you wrote a rap yourself, you probably wouldn't glorify criminality, and neither would I. Rap itself is a tool, an just like the screwdriver used to threaten me to give up my bike at age 9, it is a tool being misused.
Maybe it could be said that the spoken word is not music, but the vocal intonations used in rap along with the track or even live music in the background clearly prove that rap is music. I understand your attitude about it's negative consequenses, and back in the mid-to-late-80's I had the same opinion. I'm from Chicago, and House music was huge here, so rap got little attention. The only attention it did get was the news coverage of a concert fight or something else negative. In those days, the messages in rap was nowhere near as negative as the grand swath of they are today.
If you want to reassure yourself and be in tuned with your optimistic side, I can give you some examples of rap that don't fit the negative bill. Now, I'm not talking about the Fresh Prince, or some Disney drivel, I mean rappers who are deep into the game, but are not really about crime.
Some examples of people who are talented rap records but not tied into the negative include the following:

Passing Me By - Pharcyde Check the video
Freedom - Jurassic 5 (Ode to Freedom)
If you only knew - Jurassic 5 (Anti-"Keepin it real")
Bonita Applebum - Tribe Called Quest (Classic Appreciation of a woman)
Sharp Shooters - Talib Kweli & Dead Prez (Second Ammendment Defense)
Jesus Walks -Kanye West (Grammy winnner for Best Rap)
I used to love H.E.R. - Common (Laments negative portrayal in rap)



At Fri May 12, 11:39:00 PM CDT, Blogger BeeJiggity said...

[I suggest you open this window to full page to read.]

I've been fightiing to keep from using your age against you, but when you say things like "if I've never heard of them they're obviously not successful," you make it hard to keep from calling you names. Yet I still resist.

Then you say "If they're popular I wouldn't have to look," and destroy your whole arguement. I thought this was about whether rap was negative. I didn't know that it was about whether rap was popular. Saying that is like saying that poetry is negative. How many of the greatest poets have you ever heard of? Me neither. That doesn't mean that the best paid poets (Rappers) who you have great popularity are proof that poetry is negative.

I will agree that tons of the most popular rap is straight outta hell, looking for new recruits. But there are other tons to listen to.

Non-Gangster SUCCESSFUL Rappers you have heard of who nobody makes fun of include:
Queen Latifa {Grammy Winner} (Forgot she raps, huh?)
De La Soul {Grammy winners} {Platinum Album, Gold Album}
(Yes old, but if you never heard of them, you should never speak on this again.)
Busta Rhymes {5 Platinum Albums}
Mos Def {Grammy nominee}
The Roots {Grammy winners} {2 Gold} (you've probably never heard of them--- That's okay)

If you haven't heard of them check out on Wikipedia.

As to Kanye, he (like most of the entertainment industry) is a poor lost liberal Bush hater. That doesn't mean his music is negative. While he's not the best example, he has done some cuts that are really nice. His success revives the tradition of fun, party music and rap that was not about pimps, drug dealing, and criminality.

Oh Common has a Gold and Platinum record. His latest album also recieved 4.5/5 mics from the Source Magazine, aka the New York Times of Rap. (Tribe Called Quest got 5)

There are other rap artists who have created a whole scene that has flown under your radar. I guess that's why they call it "Underground hip hop."

Lemme school ya', boiiiieeeee!

From VH-1:
A Tribe Called Quest
Three Platinum Albums

Without question the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s, A Tribe Called Quest jump-started and perfected the hip-hop alternative to hardcore and gangsta rap... Tribe confronted numerous black issues -- date rape, use of the word nigger, the trials and tribulations of the rap industry -- all of which overpowered the occasional game of the dozens...

Second album The Low End Theory was, quite simply, the most consistent and flowing hip-hop album ever recorded.

A spot on the 1994 Lollapalooza Tour showed their influence with the alternative crowd -- always a bedrock of A Tribe Called Quest's support -- but the group kept it real on 1996's Beats, Rhymes and Life, a dedication to the streets and the hip-hop underground.

Now lets go on over to Amazon, and look some average joes' collections of the top rap of all time. Start here:

Not a Negative on the List

Real Hip-hop

5 Mics

Or Here:

After looking at those lists, I forgot some other non-criminal rappers:
Eric B. and Rakim (greatest rapper of all time IMHO.)
Big Daddy Kane
Public Enemy (Political activists. I don't like their politics, but they are anti-criminal.)
BDP-W/KRS-One (More Political Activists. Commie to his soul, but a positive rapper)
Gang Star

(You reminded me of how much good stuff there is that I still need to buy! thanks!)

Just the same as all art,


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