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Headscratchers: Rap
  • Why did Rap have to shift away from the more open and friendly themes of the eighties? There used to be a time when being a rapper didn't automatically mean being vulgar and there were acts that parents could actually approve of. The whole Totally Radical trend of using rap wasn't because of gangsta rap, after all. Now, it seems like if any family friendly act exists any more, they certainly aren't visible.
    • Money. Tupac, Wu-tang Clan and Dr. Dre got big and made loads of it. Music company execs never being known for their originality in the first place decided to do the same thing they did to old school rock...market the shit of a very narrow part of the genre. If it helps ease the pain non gangster rap is slowly making a comeback in the underground scene. Or we can do what everyone else does and blame the white surban fanboys
    • Making "family friendly" music is ridiculous. People don't make songs with their parents approval in mind.
    • I always read the rise of gangsta rap as a backlash by the poorer urban community against what they thought was a whitewashing and simplifying of urban life - life was NOT okay, there was still plenty of rampant racism and classism in those areas, and the mass media at the time liked to pretend that it didn't exist. Of course, people overlooked that part and saw a bunch of black guys with guns...
      • Only Dre is responsible; he personally made Tupac, Jay-Z, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and so much more. The East Coast (Puffy, Biggie, Wu Tang, etc.) and Dirty South (TI, Lil Wayne, Nelly, etc.) turned gangsta only because Dre had made it so marketable; gangsta could be defined as the imitation of Dre. He's pretty much the ultimate rapper, and also produced a huge quantity and variety of hip-hop; but on his own albums, he prefers to glorify crime and weed, and his two favorite words begin with N and B. I have no doubt that gangsta's current creakiness is a sign that Dre is getting old.** Except Dre didn't "create" 2pac and Jay-Z. And the south already had gangsta rappers with artists like Gangsta NIP, UGK, and the geto boys. loooong before rappers like T.I. Lil Wayne and Nelly showed up. and since when was Nelly a gangsta rapper?!?!? Also gangsta rap did NOT only talk about glorifying crime, but the whole bleak situation of the whole thing, the poverty, the police brutality, etc etc... it got called gangsta rap by the media. so it's kinda unfair to turn gangsta rap into this BAD strawman genre.
      • You miss the point; Of course Dre didn't "create" 2pac and Jay-Z. A bunch of people following the leader did. And there's a reason that gangsta rap is a "BAD strawman genre". There's no art, no innovation, just a bunch of, to quote my favorite hip-hop song, people who "think [they're] hardcore 'cause [they were] raised in the projects."
      • I'd just like to address a few points brought up by the person or people criticizing gangsta rap here. First, as mentioned before, Dre did not invent gangsta rap. In fact, when the Chronic came out it was called "gangsta-lite" by some critics. Gangsta rap was popularized as a genre by NWA, a group Dre was a part of along with Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Gangsta rap itself really started with several songs by Schooly D in the 80s. There are a lot of views on why gangsta rap became popular, but I think there is a general consensus that it rose to prominence primarily because at the time it came out it resonated with the street culture that was the primary fan base of hip-hop at the time, it was controversial which gave it a great deal of media coverage introducing it to a new audience in middle america, and it was something new and different in the genre. To say gangsta rap is devoid of creativity is foolish. There is much more to rap than just the content of the lyrics. While some may find the lifestyle described in it appalling, that is hardly the only criteria to evaluate the subgenre. One must take into account the musical aspects of individual artists such as flow, production, wordplay, vocal delivery, rhyme schemes, storytelling, imagery, and so on before making such broad generalizations.
    • There's still OutKast and a few other acts who have a more old school vibe.
  • It bugs me that the typical gangsta rapper says he's from the streets.(Hood, projects, ghetto, whatever.) How can you say that when you have enough dough to blow on a million dollar music video?
    • They didn't start like that and sometimes it's the studio payiing for the videos
  • R.A.P. = Retards Attempting Poetry. I hate that joke so much.
    • That and "you can't spell crap without rap."
      • Music is like candy. You have to throw away the rappers.
  • So what exactly is the difference between rap and hip hop? Or are they just two different names for the same thing?
    • Hip-hop has its routes in the remix culture that sprang out of reggae music in the mid- to late-1970s. DJs would create loops and new tracks from analogue samples of reggae and soul records, over which MCs would adlib various phrases. As the adlibbing became more technical and more artistic in its own right, it became known as "rapping". Broadly defined, hip-hop includes everything- not just the words, but the backing tracks, loops, samples, programming, etc. "Rap" refers specifically to the lyrics and the style of their performance, although it has popularly come to describe the genre as a whole. Hip-hop can, and does, exist without rap- although for purposes of simplification this is most commonly referred to as instrumental hip-hop. (It's worth noting that in this present era of highly-commercialized rap with largely digital production, certain genre elitists will only use the word "hip-hop" or "real hip-hop" to describe music closer to the roots of the genre, or at least its style during the late 1980s and early 1990s (the so-called "golden age" of hip-hop), especially artists who employ traditional analogue sampling and production).
    • Hip Hop is a culture. Rap is one type of music from it. "Hip hop music" could technically mean beatboxing, D Jing, scratching, or rap. But, generally speaking hip hop and rap are interchangeable.
  • The whole "white people can't rap" stereotype. Nevermind the fact that Eminem has singlehandlely disproven that notion, but the stereotype really started when Vanilla Ice came out with "Ice Ice Baby". This ignores the fact that the Beastie Boys AND 3rd Bass came out *before* Vanilla Ice, and were accepted as legitimate rappers by blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, EVERYBODY. So really, the stereotype was disproven before the stereotype even started! Plus, it's vaguely racist in a way. It's just like saying "black people can't play golf."
    • On a similar note, using white people rapping as the basis for a joke. This is as lame and as outdated as the stereotype that white people can't rap. "Look at me! I'm white and I'm rapping! Aren't I funny?" Boring. First of all, we have *actual* white rappers, who are talented, and are accepted as such by alot of people. And second of all, even if you're just using comedy as an example, "Weird Al" Yankovic, MC Chris, The Lonely Island and others have proven that you can be white and rap and be funny and the joke DOESN'T have to be "Look at the white person rapping!" The rapping is used as a way to tell the joke, not be the joke itself. There's a difference.
    • Most of the basis is not so much rapping in general, but white people trying to do "urban" rapping. In other words, trying to mimic the style and substance of the black rappers of the time. For example, the Beastie Boys certainly rapped, but they didn't look or try to sound like anybody but themselves. Can you say the same about Vanilla Ice? This got kicked around again shortly after Eminem came out and (kinda) proved everybody wrong. I say 'kinda' because even though Eminem has done a lot of urban themed tracks, even those are pretty unique to him and his life - instead of just reading off the instruction manual to Hip-Hop 101. The "wannabes" that started popping up afterward on the other hand, either tried reading off that manual, or simply sounded like Kid Rock without the guitars (also another white rapper...technically).
    • White folk be appropriatin' shit like a motherfucker.
      • That right there is racist. your saying they're trying to imitate "urban" rapping from African Americans as if there are no European-Americans that live in places like that. trust me, there are.
      • But Black people created hip-hop. And I don't think you can really be racist against us white people. We, as a whole, have lived pretty well for the last few centuries or millenia. Xenophobic, sexist, classist, etc.? Yeah, but not racist.
  • Where did the creativity in hip-hop music videos go? I mean, honestly, hip-hop videos have always been filled with cliches, which is why they've always been parodied, but it's never been this bad before. They're not even trying anymore. Is it the directors' fault or the rappers themselves or a combination of both? They shoot in the same locations (New York, Los Angeles, Miami), have the same video models shake their asses in front of the camera, have the same sets, the same champagne. It's EXTREMELY tiresome! I can name rappers whose music videos always stand out in one hand: Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and the Beastie Boys. THAT'S IT! The worst offender is Lil' Wayne. He's currently got 3 new music videos in rotation, AND THEY'RE ALL THE SAME! There's literally NOTHING to tell them apart! Nothing at all! I can understand why people hate rap if this is all that they see!
    • It's marketing. Aspiration is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. You show poor kids and/or lazy middle class kids someone who is - despite not working all that hard - obscenely wealthy, high-status and generally living the life they want, and they'll go for that thing. It's basically exploiting poor people's desire for the finer things, but since when have mainstream music marketers had scruples?
    • You know what I've learned from hip hop videos? Miami: Absolutely No Traffic(Biggie - Hypnotize, Akon - I'm So Paid, DJ Khaled - We Takin' Over, the list goes on). Those three videos share so much in common it's amazing, I really like the reverse-gear car chase, I guess it only works in a convertible.
      • You know what I've learned from rap videos? Everybody in the 'hood has their own limo and so much money that they can throw it out the car windows. And all they do all day is prattle about what bad mofos they are and diss other rappers. And every woman in the 'hood has really huge, fake tits, and they spend all their time grinding in slo-mo. And that's keeping it real?
    • This troper had a friend who summarized it like this: "Rap videos try and tell a story, even if that story is always about getting to the next girl or party. Rock videos are just a jumble of unrelated images that look cool." He said this to me in 1996, so clearly this phenomenon is not new.
    • Granted, hip-hop videos have always been filled with cliches. In fact, in 1996, The Roots made a music video for their song "What They Do" which pointed out and parodied all the cliches in hip-hop music videos at the time. But it's never been so obvious and so blatant before. Plus, the cliches themselves kinda suck. I'd rather see rappers in blurred T-shirts and Timberland boots pretending to kick the camera for the 100th time, then another music video featuring champagne bottles popping.
  • It seems like the more memorable or complicated the beats in popular rap is these days, the worse the actually rapping is, whereas older rap is all sampled but has really entertaining or interesting rhymes. The beat to "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)" is probably one of the biggest ear worms of the genre of the last decade, but the lyrics are terrible. On the flip side is something like "Straight Outta Compton" where the only memorable part of the beat is the Amen Break used in practically everything else, but the lyrics are well known, or at least understandable.
    • Lowest Common Denominator and Viewers Are Morons at work. People don't care about a song's message as long as they can shake their asses to it.
    • I disagree completely... "Crank Dat" is fairly generic snap music that (correct me if I'm wrong) basically does not ever change at any part of the song. On the other hand listen to especially Public Enemy (Anything by them really, especially songs like "Can't Do Nuthin' For Ya Man", "Brothers Gonna Work it Out", "By the Time I Get to Arizona", "Fight the Power", ) or Run-DMC ("King of Rock", "Beats to the Rhyme") or Gangstarr ("Take a Rest"). They had better lyricism and in fact were more complicated musically and on the whole more interesting.
    • I disagree with your disagreement. Public Enemy songs are very minimalist. Ones like "Rebel Without a Pause" and "Public Enemy No. 1" don't even have bass, just a sample and a drum loop.
    • Okay so not ALL their songs were complex some especially from their first and second albums were kinda minimalist but I'm talking about especially "Fear of a Black Planet" and "Muse Sick N Hour Mess Age" and "There's a POISON Goin On". Same, some Run-DMC songs were minimalist, some were not. At any rate, what I was getting at wasn't so much complexity, though that's part of it, but being non-conventional, having different kinds of song structures, that kinda stuff.
    • Simple answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Upright_Music,_Ltd._v._Warner_Bros._Records_Inc. Just as rap was starting to get really good at sampling stuff awesomely (Paul's Boutique, Fear of a Black Planet, 3 Feet High and Rising, etc.), a dumb Irish pop singer sues Biz Markie for sampling a song of his without permission. Court says you have to get permission from artists to sample, and sampling fees accordingly skyrocket. Hip-hop basically gets cut off from its lifeblood and has to adapt to survive, and this is why you have simple synth-driven beats nowadays. Uh, it's probably already obvious, but this pisses me off a lot, because it means we'll never get another Paul's Boutique or Fear of a Black Planet, and the only people who can afford sampling are the already-rich moguls who generally rely on the rightfully hated "loop it and leave it" method. GAH.
    • Maybe people shouldn't be breaking copyright laws in the first place.
      • When copyright laws have already been bent to the point of becoming forever minus a day can anyone really be said to have broken copyright laws? It's already broken. Sampling which should have been allowed as fair use was a failed attempt to return some rationality to the system.
      • I'd just like to point out I wasn't disagreeing with the whole "sampling without permission", it's just that the only reason sampling fees shot up afterwards was, I guess, due to greedy record companies seeing an opportunity for extra moolah. If sampling fees were kept small and affordable and thus there'd be a better chance for a new Paul's Boutique/Black Planet etc, I wouldn't have a problem with that.
    • I feel like it's worth noting that a lot of this has to do with the way rappers work now as opposed to how they worked in the past, too. During the Golden Age, rap "groups" were more common, and often incorporated a DJ or a producer as well as one or more M Cs. If rappers worked alone, they were closely affiliated with producers or DJs who made their beats. The industry was a lot smaller and that's how it survived. These days more rappers and producers work alone and compose their elements separately. Producers craft beats and loops and M Cs write verses and then buy beats from producers. Sometimes this works well, a lot of times it doesn't, but there will rarely be the same degree of synergy between beats and rhymes as when producers and M Cs worked hand-in-hand to craft tracks. These kinds of affiliations still exist, especially in underground hip-hop where they work to great effect. Other mainstream rappers work with the same producers over and over again and develop an understanding of each other's processes which produces good tracks. Where it falls apart is substandard M Cs rapping over cheap beats.
  • While I'm not happy with the direction rap's gone in over the past 10 years or so, I can't think of a single rap song that's more annoying than the general knee-jerk reaction I see in most white people over 40 (and some younger) whenever they hear so much as four bars of rap. They want it turned off now! It smacks of racism, but most of these people have no problem with R&B in general, and they usually love stuff like Motown. Why is rap different? (And BTW, I'm white and 44.)
    • If I can offer one explanation, it's probably because they can't sing along to it. Most people are only concerned with the vocalist and won't find any appeal in a song if they don't find his or her delivery pleasant. Play Master of Puppets and see if you get the same reaction.
    • To be honest, I have the same reaction to modern mainstream rap, just because it's so repetitive and irritating. No racism involved; I just can't stand the music, and I have the same reaction to country music. Both forms have seen all the artistry flee from them, and exist solely to fleece money from poor, ignorant, (urban minority/white rural) suckers. I dig the old-school hip-hop and a lot of underground rap, though. But I do have to admit, I'm probably in the minority of white folks there.
      • That's the well-thought out and legitimate reason given by rational listeners. Not the people described by the above troper, I'm willing to bet.
    • How can you jump to the conclusion that it's automatically racist? I'm a white 16 year old guy and I can't stand what people in my school listen to. But it's not because I "hate black people and I'm a huge racist", it's because I can't stand the sleazy, misogynistic, drug-and-gang pushing, simple-mindedness that is rap. I have no problem with a black musician until they prove that they're worthless and aren't worth the money they get (and that goes for all musicians).
      • Exactally! I for one dont hate rap because it's made by some of of race X, I hate the words. Now it might be because i have morals, but i don't like hear about the various illegal, self destructive, and perverted things they do with there personal lives. and to the troper who said "its because they can't sing to it", maybe they dont WANT to sing those lyrics.
    • Unfortunately (and I can say this because I'm Black) most of the people that don't like rap usually also don't like African Americans. It's like saying that you don't like affirmative action. Nobody going to ask if you do or don't usually and volunteering your views is usually a sign of deeper racial issues.
    • As if jumping to the conclusion that all hip-hop is simple-minded based off mainstream shit is that much better.
      • Well, to tell the truth, I do listen to some Nerdcore and some Conscious Hip Hop, and I do like one underground artist (immortal technique), but the way that the original poster posted what bugged him led me to believe that he was talking about mainstream rap and hip-hop that normal people/people who only listen to the radio/old people (the troper said he was 44)would listen too. I responded accordingly.
    • I'm not quite one of those people, but I'm close. Why do I do it? I want to listen to something that I ACTUALLY WANT TO LISTEN TO. I like electric guitars and real live drums and singing. I don't really care for "beats" and "loops". I do the same thing to rock songs I don't like or don't want to listen to. Why should I subject myself to something I find unpleasant? I mean, if I'm in mixed company I'm not going to be an asshole about it, but given the choice, I wouldn't listen to it any longer than necessary. I instantly change from commercials too. I don't give a shit what color you are, I can't hear it over the radio. No white guy ever did anything a black guy couldn't do and vice versa. It's not my fault black people seem to stay away from creating/performing rock music in droves. It might be somebody else's fault, I don't know. I'm not there for that. Like that one guy said, it's not the color of your skin but the content of your character.
  • It just bugs me that every white rapper gets compared to Eminem. I understand that, despite being white in a predominantly black driven style of music, he is one of the most successful, but he is nowhere nearly the best.
    • I agree, what also bugs me about him is when people say he is the first white rapper, or the only white rapper. Ignorance at its finest.
  • I find it somewhat insulting that if you don't like rap, that instantly makes you a racist. Shockingly enough, some people just don't like the style, and aren't KKK members.
    • In my experience, most if not all of the teenagers I've encountered who don't like hip-hop also don't listen to any other music that have predominately black performers/innovators, such as blues, jazz or funk. Chances are very good they're metalheads from homogenized suburbs (like half of my friends) or racist hicks (like half of my high school alumni). However, I've known overwhemingly bigoted rednecks to like hip-hop while also slamming it as "nigger shit".
      • Obviously there's a difference. For example, I love soul and jazz, but I don't really care for rap, not due to any sort sociological reason, mostly because I just don't like the sound. But people are so scared these days of being politically incorrect, that they're willing to cry racist at the slightest provocation.
      • Exactly. Voicing an opinion about music (or movies, TV shows, etc.) is perfectly normal and justified. "Volunteering your views" is not a sign of racism. It's a sign of volunteering your views. People may or may not say anything about Affirmative Action or similar issues mostly because it's a political issue and that sort of thing is considered rude to bring up in polite conversation. Rap is fair game and is someone doesn't like it, it only means that they don't like it. No one should read into it.
      • ^ very true. ^^^ I for one like blues, and jazz, though it's not on the radio much, but LOATH newer rap. there some older rap thats pretty good. i dont like the sound because 9/10 times its the same thing over and over, and the lyrics...im not even going to get into that
    • You know what hip hop, blues, jazz and funk have in common? I mean, besides being predominantly "black" genres? They don't sound like rock music. That's why I don't listen to them. I want to listen to rock music. It's not so much that I dislike those genres, I just greatly prefer rock. I don't care for "white" pop music either. Your homogenized suburban kid friends probably have the same reasoning. They like metal for a reason and hip hop and other "black music" doesn't supply them with the same things. For me it's sort of a vicarious adrenaline rush sort of thing. I'm going to sound like an asshole for saying this, but it seems to me that hip hop is for the body while rock is for the heart. Ooookay. Stop talking. Now.
  • Why is it that most rappers (at least the ones I hear on the radio) can't seem to sing songs themselves anymore? I swear, every time I hear a rap/hip-hop song, it's always "featuring" some other singer. I know that, with older rap/hip-hop, people used to sing in groups but things changed and now nearly everyone is a solo-artist. Why do they have to have another rapper join in the middle of every song?
    • In mainstream rap anyway, it seems that it's often all about hype: A rapper who isn't that well known on their own can build up exposure by showing up on other, more established acts' singles. A rapper who is already popular can boost the success of a single by showing up even if they do very little else besides lend their name. If both the guest and the main credited performer are equally well-known, having them together still might give the song a bit of an extra boost. Or an established artist who hasn't had a successful single in a while could do the occasional guest appearance just to keep their name out there. As to why this doesn't happen to such a great degree in other genres, I guess in hip-hop it's considered more important to have connections. Long story short: Wolverine Publicity.
    • "I'm a guest star on my own album, ya'll biscuitheads!" ~Peacey P ;)
    • It could also be to boost another singer's popularity. Case in point, Ke$ha guesting in Flo Rida's "Right Round" shortly before waking up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy.
    • To be honest, rappers nowadays are slowly reaching back to the singing aspect, at least the mainstream ones. This troper won't put the following example as the main thing which set the fad ablaze, but Kanye West 's 808's & Heartbreak certainly pushed things in that direction. These days you'll have emcees like Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa giving into it every now and then. Drake is also a big contributor to this, being heavy on the R&B side. Kid Cudi is another who has helped the fad resurface. Eminem has been generally notorious for singing hooks as well. I would say it's not a far cry from that time where every emcee and their mother had Akon/R Kelly/T-Pain on the hook.

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