Shikanosuke wrote:This likely belongs in a discussion of its own but oh well.TooMuchBaijiu wrote:That sounds like the perspective of someone with little to no acquaintance with rap, save from what he hears on radio or television. Rapreviews.com is about as close as one can get to a complete archive of prominent rap records. I'd say out of the hundreds (if not thousands) of records they've reviewed, a great number of them are devoid of much of the hedonism and mayhem that rap is notorious for. I'd also say a majority, if not a vast majority, are records that carry a good deal of social commentary and portraits of everyday life.
And that sounds like the perspective of someone who loves rap and wants to find a bastion of merit where none exists. More accurately, it sounds like a hip-hop purist who wants to salvage the name of his favored music. I can understand that, as being a former hip-hop purist myself. And quite frankly, I think you're making crap up. The vast majority is exactly as they seem. Poorly written lyrics with little to no depth, with smart well-crafted messages sprinkled amongst them. I'm not above denying there are some who stand out as exceptions to the rule.
Also, I agree that almost all of rap has elements of "social commentary" of how they perceive their everyday life. That commentary is shit. Typically its skewed and displays a lack of education and a fatalistic lifestyle, the thug lifestyle. This is exactly what I've been saying I hate from the get-go.
EDIT: Also, it has perceptions how they want to sell their everyday life to their audience.Now, why do the more lurid albums get airplay? Why are many of the most financially successful rappers notorious for their violent lyrics that often are perceived as glorifying criminality? 'Cause Americans love that shit. Look at IMDb's Top 250. The Shawshank Redemption, whose most sympathetic characters are murderers and con men, tops the list. Everyone relishes how Andy Dufresne scammed that Warden, right? What's #2 and #3? The Godfather, parts 1 and 2. The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly is at #4, Pulp Fiction at #5, Fight Club and Goodfellas sit at #15 and 16, City of God is at #18...shall I go on?
Gangsta rap stands out in hip-hop for the same reason gangster movies do. The characters are anarchic bastards who do the things we wish we could and get away with it...at least until the last reel.
And, I think you're only partly correct. You're explaining why they appeal to white kids, who buy tons of the records and then go back to their ordinary existence. Acting like the populace who listens to rap is homogenous is errant. I listened to rap as a youth for reasons far far removed than some of my classmates. I realized this even then and tried vainly to conceal it. I viewed the rappers closely to what you describe, but they were never real role-models, never heroes, and never something I seriously thought about as a valid career option or something to aspire to. I don't wish I could get away with almost anything rappers purport. Namely, because I'm not a thug and have a basic understanding of how the world should work.
Don't think of sales. Sales don't matter in the long run, it's influence. Who will be remembered ten years from now? More often than not, it's not the rappers who come with no substance (though admittedly guys like Too $hort have been amazingly prolific) And honestly, if you were to say the above about rappers like Rakim, Ice Cube, Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Chuck D, Lupe Fiasco, Guru, MC Zion or Ice-T (a partial list) you'd probably get laughed out of the room.
Sorry, I think you misunderstand influence. You seem to focus on it only in the vacuum of the hip-hop community which actually looks for such influence. The majority of rap kids/listeners out there don't know who Talib, Immortal, etc are. If they do know, they know of them because their favorite rappers might have mentioned them in reverence once. I used to be on the same mindset as you. When people criticized rap for what it is, I used to say 'nu uh! look at these guys!'. But the truth is, that isn't how it is. The average rap listener is about as dumb (and interested in rap's legacy) as the lyrics typically are. Sales show exactly what is popular, and why it is as well.
Who will be remembered ten years from now is only a matter of concern who gives two shits about rap as an art form: people like you. For the rest of the world, they aren't concerned. Want to know what messages are accepted by the audience of rap? Look at the popular crap.
The interesting analogy is our respective position in constrasting genres. I love country music. I don't like, or at least have a lesser respect, for a good portion of the pop-country that is portrayed on tv and played on radios (mainstream). When people make criticisms of country music, I don't get to ignore what the vast majority of country music listeners listen to (pop-country). I don't get to point to the underground country artists who I think negate the criticism and prop it up as a rebute.
Replace the word "rap" with "every genre of music since Caveman Bebop" and you might have something there. Most music sucks. Most artists suck. Artists with less substance get put over people who go right over the heads of the general public. The Salieris of the world have been owning the Mozarts since the beginning of time.
While what you are saying is true, what I am saying is also true.
Again, think of longevity. A lot of "mainstream" artists in every genre burn bright for a year and fade away. A lot of respected artists only make modest sales...over decades. Bob Dylan, for example, never had a number one song. Neither did Bob Marley. Johnny Cash only had one. Mariah Carey has had 21. Who's the more influential?
Johnny Cash was the face of image of country music...during his lifetime and entire career. He had over a dozen number once hits, had his own tv show, and was invited the White House. Dylan never had a #1 song, but had multiple top-selling albums. I don't know about Marley. But none of this answers the problem I have.
The influence over decades is irrelevant to shaping the minds of the youths who eat it up. They don't wait, like purists do, to see what floats to the top and what fizzles out. They take what they listen to, distills its message, and incorporate it. Furthermore, why does that crap sell well? More significantly, why do the minorities demand said messages so much?
Personally, I grew up around hip-hop artists and some who were aspiring ones in NYC and my mother grew up with Doug E.Fresh. In fact, Black Rob (who was a one hit wonder ) grew up in the same housing project I grew up in. It was pretty interesting being around people like that in the 80's & 90's and honestly (because something was mentioned about him in the other thread), KRS-One was big in New York where many people argue hip-hop started. Just as Shik mentioned in the above post, I'm also a hip-hop purist and enjoyed the days of Eric B. & Rakim, Guru, Blackstarr, etc.
I agree that today's rap is basically as some put it (c)rap and it is nothing short of fanfare. What people wish they had, wish they could do, and pretty much just like to hear. Itching ears anyone?
This post is just for starter purposes.