I can respect a movie or a song that deals with the reality of e.g. adultery in a thoughtful and morally responsible way. I criticized the songs I did because I consider them to embrace or romanticize adultery. I would do exactly the same for a book or a movie -- The Bridges of Madison County, say. Hope that clarifies.
I get your point and I agree partly.
For example, I almost always react negatively to films that romanticize adultery and betrayal-- I've seen quite a few. And yet, Lost in Translation remains one of my favorite films ever. Like the the best music, I find it evokes deep emotions in me--none of them negative-- each time I return to it.
And yet, I must confess, it doesn't necessarily condemn the notion of an extramarital fling, which is a bit problematic to me... at least on paper. However, the emotional payload I receive from the unusual relationship of the protagonists trumps any possible romanticized behavior.
I find this true with a number of songs in rap as well. I'm fairly certain Andre 3000 is not promoting committed, marital relations or gun safety when he says, among other things,
Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang!... Don't even bang unless you plan to hit something!
but the hair on my arm still stands up every time I hear the opening beat to the tune.
I used to think the same about hip/hop, but since I have devoted my whole year to it, I find myself starting to understand it more and actually enjoying it. I started another topic dealing with hip/hop and it has my whole list of albums for the year. I am only 14 weeks in, but what I have heard so far has been impressive.
I don't buy into arguments that say hip/hop is lazy and unoriginal. Sure they use other peoples' music, but if you listen, they actually put work into it and create something new and creative out of it. I don't believe that hip/hop should be charged with copyright infringement because 1) I don't believe anyone really "owns" anything in the strict sense (and hip/hop doesn't just copy the music anyways, they distort it in various ways) and 2) every other form of entertainment borrows from those before it albeit not as bluntly. Example: Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane. It is the culmination and mixture of just about every mental hospital book/movie out there. Even he stated that the novel was by no means original. However, he doesn't get pounded by lawsuits. It just seems a little one-sided.
I think the best place to start is the following: first 3 albums of A Tribe Called Quest, first 4 albums of De La Soul, Lucy Ford EPs by Atmosphere, Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy, Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication by The Beastie Boys.
Gangsta Rap is another issue and harder to defend. I haven't hit my gangsta rap block yet, but I can say that, even though the misogyny and language can me worse in gangsta rap, there are some things that need to be understood in order to appreciate some of it.
1. Historical context - The late 80s and early 90s are packed with events that dealt with police brutality towards blacks, systemic oppression locally and by the government, and various riots and acts of violence that led to the dissatisfaction felt by the rappers who make up the core components of gangsta rap.
2. Tensions - 1) Pay attention to the tension between crime/violence/drugs/other vices and the various references to religious imagery that does appear quite a bit in the music (Tupac is a great example). 2) Look at the tension between the rapper persona and the real person, some times (but not always) there is a disconnect much like Alice Cooper had in the rock realm.
3. Look at the differing styles of samples used in order to create the tracks. They don't just pick music as random to use, there is always a reason for each sample being used in each rap song. Outside of language, all of the criticisms that can be laid against rap/hip-hop can be laid against other types of music as well, including heavy metal, blues music (which deals with almost exactly the same type of subject matter as most hip/hop and rap), funk, etc.
Ultimately, I believe that a person should submerge themselves in the music before they can make a legitimate criticism about its content. It is easy to look from the outside and see the surface complaints brought by fundamentalist Christians, the media, and other critics (Tipper Gore, anyone?), but to actually know what a genre of music is about and what it communicates takes more than just letting our musical preferences and presuppositions control our views. Just my general thoughts! Check out my thread too. It is open for general discussion and deeper issues of property & copyright infringement, social issues, etc.
I have been a fan of the site for 5 or 6 years and have never really been prompted to respond. The level of intellectual conversation has been intimidating, to say the least. However, because of my love of hip-hop, I am quite motivated to post up in here.
I'm preparing for a shellacking after I fire a couple shots over the bow, but nevertheless, I'm committed to putting myself in argument's way for the sake of something I believe in deeply.
so in an attempt at preemptive defense; let me start by giving you a short, personal background:
started writing raps in '86
started a group in '91 - Future Shock
put out a demo in '93 - after a couple years of doing live shows
toured with LPG in '94 and '95
co-founded Tunnel Rats in '94
signed with Brainstorm Artist Group in '95 and began releasing records in the "CCM" market '96 (our first album was exec prod by the late, great Gene Eugene.)
"retired" in '06, but still active in hip hop as of Dec '10, opening for Kurtis Blow.
currently working in Social Services for the YMCA - developing hip hop and arts based community programming.
For context, we've (future shock) opened for blackalicious, visionaries, super natural, LMNO. Gigged with LA Symphony - knew them long before they were LA Symphony, the Procussions, DeepSpace 5, Cross Movement, Grits, Boogie Monsters, Pigeon John - after he left LA Symph- and the list goes on.
Sorry to take time with the "bio", but i feel it's necessary to show that I'm not speaking from inexperience - in CCM market or general market.
I have a problem with the whole topic "Hip-hop (Is rap crap?). Does any art form have the ability to become anything more than what its artists intend for it? How is it that Hip-hop is not neutral? The title is more of an indictment - requiring a defense rather than discussion. It immediately puts my position (that rap is far from crap) behind the 8-ball.
@ mrmando: you offended me bro. i know the easy thing to do is to trash "christian rap". for whatever reason it's the "ugly duckling" of CCM. so "fish in a barrel" to you....but you shot out of ignorance. I don't know what your reference point; questioning if anyone "can lay down a solid rhyme", but i guarantee two things about it: 1) limited in scope and 2) out of date.
The reality of Christian's in hip hop is that MANY of them are leaving/have left the CCM world because of misconceptions like yours. It's hard to get any traction when CCM expects the next DC Talk, or KJ52 or whatever. Most are struggling to identify themselves as artists, who have a Christ-centered worldview, rather than "Christian rappers" for the CCM market.
Another thing to consider is that even within our tiny niche, there are those who would feel it necessary to further exclude themselves by creating "HHH Culture"-Holy Hip Hop Culture. That is to say that the single reason these self-identified "Holy Hip Hoppers" chose to rhyme is for pure evangelism. No room for art. Just pure evangelism. These acts are wildly popular among the denominations, therefor have a high visibility in the "Youth Group" Church culture as an accurate representation of "Christian Hip Hop". These well-intentioned individuals actually demonize other Christians in hip hop who don't offer theology through their songwriting.
So there are many struggles getting "a solid rhyme" done by Christian artists to the Church at large. But there are mature, intelligent, polished and relevant Christian MC's - I offer you: shad, propaganda, odd thomas, sojourn, life savas, othello, mr j, DeepSpace 5 (mars ill, manchild, playdough, listener, sintax the terrific, freddie b, sivion), sareem poems, cookbook & uno mas, the breax, ajax starglider, zane one, jurny big, peace5.86 - for starters. Then go and check out sphereofhiphop.com for more "solid rhyme" done by Christians.
These are artists, using their God-given talents, for the expansion of the Kingdom by unconventional means. There are labels that are exclusively devoted to this; Humble Beast, End of Earth, AudiSketchbook, syntax, illect, etc. I think the problem is that it takes work to find these gems. But just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
@ SDG - i'm sure i'm not as smart as you, but it sounded to me like most of your argument was socio-economic class-based, veiled by a "hip hop culture" theme. sorry if that sounds harsh, but that's how it felt to me. didn't seem to be about hip hop music/"Is rap crap?"
@GregP - you sounded like an intellectual looking for street cred. you made some good points though.
I think the great minds on this board, for the most part, treated this topic haphazardly. Without any real experience, study, or understanding you're left to your own reasoning, which for the most part is more theoretical, intellectual and ultimately irrelevant.
Please feel free to fire back. I would love to grow through discourse, dialogue and argument
for more independent intelligent hip hop, check out: (don't know how to post the video) .
Welcome redbonz. Keep in mind that the dude who started this thread is now the board's biggest champion of hip hop. There are a few people who don't dig it but opinions are somewhat balanced here, I think.
i know the easy thing to do is to trash "christian rap".
I didn't trash "christian rap."
for whatever reason it's the "ugly duckling" of CCM. so "fish in a barrel" to you....but you shot out of ignorance.
I didn't shoot anyone. I asked a question.
I don't know what your reference point; questioning if anyone "can lay down a solid rhyme", but i guarantee two things about it: 1) limited in scope and 2) out of date.
That's just it. I don't have a reference point. The handful of Christian hip-hop recordings I've actually heard strike me as incredibly lame, but it's just a handful, certainly not enough to establish a "reference point." I asked whether there were Christian hip-hoppers who could lay down a solid rhyme BECAUSE I WANTED TO KNOW THE ANSWER. Thanks, sincerely, for the list of artists you gave, but you could have given it without criticizing me.
It's nice to have you here, but distributing ad hominems in your introductory post wasn't the most gracious thing you could have done.