If Music Be the Food of Love, Kill the Bitch
Well, well, well.... What shall we talk about today?
We know! Rap music... Hip-hop, to the initiated. Admittedly, Bobo is no fan of this particular style of expression. However, that does not mean that such is any less valid as an art form than say, interpretive dance. You either love it, or you say 'What the fuck is THIS shit?'. First, in order to understand what to make of this, we need to understand the PROCESS of making of it. Several of Bobo's friends are fairly adept at same, so we consulted them...
First, a 'beat' or rhythm track must be made. This is usually made through the use of 'samples', which are basically bits from other songs strung together to form the desired result, much like one would cut up a newspaper to make a ransom note. Sounds easy, right...?
At first, I too scoffed that these people weren't REAL musicians because they had to use (steal) other people's music to make their own... That is not so. In fact, eighteen hours in to my own attempt to create a 'beat' from a scad of diverse 'samples' I thought would sound good together (but still weren't) and I was wishing I had stuck with the piano lessons... But I digress. This process must be repeated at least TWICE for even a half-ass attempt at a song. Some of these selections currently airing on the radio are made from over THIRTY 'beats' overlayed onto each other. So much for it being a diminished form of expression, at least from a technical standpoint...
Now, the idea here is that - much like any other songwriting effort - you either do the music first or the lyrics first... But hip-hop has a distinction in that in some cases one can make up the song as they go along (a distinction shared only by Modern Interpretive Jazz), which is called 'freestyle' (In MIJ, it's called 'genius', though I admit I have... other names for it.) So the music is USUALLY first with rap, but not always... Naturally, the lyrics are usually the most important part of a song, and a message must be conveyed.
It is the message that most people have issues with, myself included. How can one say that the artform is a way to lift the downtrodden urban people, and then spend 50 minutes screaming about how all the women are gold-digging whores, and all other men are piss-ant punks that they will personally see exterminated? It seems ridiculous, or at the very least incongruous... I don't wish to paint with too wide a brush here, so I will take this moment to say that quite a bit of 'rap' is surprisingly positive and uplifting, even socially conscious and challenging.
Too bad the radio stations hardly ever PLAY any of that... It seems the audience really doesn't want to hear about how they can help each other to a brighter day, no sir. They'd rather hear about the gang wars, date rapes, stick-ups and murders. At least that's what I got when I called the local 'Urban Music' station, who was a little more... colorful in their delivery of the above message, I might add. Sad, really...
Now, rap has a second distinction all its own... Turf. I'll explain... It seems, in keeping with the idea that it's a music born from a poor environment, it would stand to reason that the fanbase has a limited amount of resources with which to purchase the musical selections made available. Therefore, rappers tend to denegrate each other as unworthy, weak, punk, etc.; no doubt to convince the fan that their $15 would be better spent on THEIR album rather than the one of the other guy. This goes back and forth, escalating each time until someone shoots somebody. No bullshit. Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were both shot and killed - and had spent much of their respective careers pissing on each other beforehand in the now infamous 'East Coast-West Coast War'. Rap is the only form of expression that has a body-count NOT related to drugs, unless you count the guy that shot John Lennon for not giving him an autograph.
No other artform - musical or otherwise - promotes violence as nakedly as rap does. Is it wrong to do so? No. In fact, I hope that OTHER musical platforms adopt a similar stand. I'd pay MONEY to see Yanni and John Tesh locked in a battle to the death, for no other reason than it would mean we'd be rid of at least ONE of them... Heh.
What I feel, personally, is that anything that promotes divisiveness, violence, or criminal behavior is not really something people - especially kids - should be listening to. If that's what you 'hardcore hustlas' feel you should bring to the masses, by all means, but don't think it puts you on a level with a Muddy Waters or Billy Joel or Jimi Hendrix. The only person it puts you on a level with is David Duke. And don't think those Klansmen don't get a GOOD laugh at you 'badazz dawgs' shooting each other up, either... All you are to them is saved ammo, or maybe one less noose to tie. The Klan's probably the biggest fans of rap out there... Why bother spreading hate against your people when YOU do it? Why bother talking about how you're animals on dope when YOU do it. Hell, they probably take RAFFLES on which of you goes next... Suffice to say that the divide and conquer paradigm (aka, the Hate Machine) is still humming along a mile a minute same as it always has, they just got some new chauffeurs... But I digress.
So, what to do? Easy. This is where you people should REALLY pay attention... Ready? Here's what you do:
Confused? Of course you are, you're pretty simple... Why else would you come here to see what -I- have to say? Heh. So, I'll explain... If something offends you, don't have anything to do with it. Eschew it. Ignore it. Hell with it. See, what these guys WANT you to do is get all pissy about them using the 'b', 'n', and 'f' words and get on the news decrying it... It's called FREE ADVERTISING. And you bought right into it with your 'Ban (insert offending artist)' movements and Congressional Hearings. Dopes.
And by nothing, I mean NOTHING. Don't buy it. Don't listen to it. Don't have it in the HOUSE. PERIOD. If your teen hops in your car when you ferry him/her to the mall and the first thing they do after you start up is put on that stuff, you shut it OFF. PROMPTLY. Since they already think you're a fuddy-duddy that doesn't get it, you're not changing their perspective; so use the time to hammer it in that when THEY buy a car they can listen to whatever they want, but until then shut it off. Get some BALLS, already. Your kids walk all over you because you're a SISSY. It's not the music. It's not the videogames. It's not the internet. It's YOU. YOU walking on eggshells so they don't wind up in therapy bitching and moaning... YOU trying not to be like your parents were... YOU just taking whatever crap they dish up... Drop the fucking anchor and take back the HELM, Cap'n, before you hit a goddamn ICEBERG. Sheesh!
Your kids might not like you NOW, folks, but they will THANK you later...
Just like YOU did for YOUR parents.
You're welcome. See you SOON.