Friday, July 01, 2005

Just Rappin' With Some Doods...

Happy Canada Day! :)


Why they love 2Pac in Africa...


...and other anomalies in the argument.

hey davey,

i met you in T-Dot and love the knowledge you bring.

however, i've got to say that the definition of "musician" has always been unfairly restricted generationally, and i'm afraid you're doing the same thing here. it is easily possible to make it inclusive, if you figure that:

a) some rappers put so much "feeling" into their voice that they even cross-over into other languages (i.e. 2Pac), and that has to be a musical achievment. translating "emotion" into "music" so any human being can feel it is a phenomenal skill that many traditional musicians struggle for years to acquire.

b) knowing when and how to use one's voice is key to making any music, and fitting in harmoniously with other instruments (or beats) is a similar challenge for both rappers and singers. many takes of a song may be necessary, many different intonations, flows, etc., and yet much like a singer the first take has a certain fresh magic to it at times. i would even argue that freestylers while at their worst are simply being lazy, at their best they know when they've truly hit it musically or not - see Jay-Z's "Fade To Black" for more.

c) it's not all about talent: Madonna, Dylan, Cobain, and many others have created "music" with half the "talent" or "pure vocal ability" of many women in your average Baptist church. Mariah Carey has a beautiful voice she uses horribly, and many of the best sounds have been made by those who strayed far from any classical notions of singing, e.g. Marley, Charles, Sinatra, etc...

d) lyrically, i'd say rappers have the edge even as "musicians". they decide what to say and how to match the lyrics to the music, whereas many singers receive pre-packaged instructions (and then maybe add flair) in order to be used as tools for someone else's vision of a song.

so, as far as i'm concerned the best rappers got a spot at the musicians headz-table, and their versatility will only increase as hip hop grows and adopts more musical influences and less rules on what defines it...



Appropriation of Voice vs. Paradigm Inclusivity


I think it's clear that as the argument gets volleyballed back and forth it narrows considerably: black people invented hip hop and deserve all the credit for it; others are free to create some as long as they respect the architects.

That's fair enough.

However, moving forward...

Arguments like this can be as dangerous and divisive as other dogmas, as the room for nuances is limited by the hints of racism in disagreeability. I am absolutely convinced this topic is necessary to bring up regularily - we WILL forget if we are not reminded of hip hop's origins and legacy. (Many say we have.)

However, for hip hop to succeed it needs to do what it naturally did: be the most versatile and inclusive form of music in history.

The most inclusive paradigms win. They make the best parties, they include the most comfortable people, and they cross-barriers and boundaries both physical and mental. If we can find a way to make this work well for the most people, then we're laughing...

I see some of hip hop's questionable evolution into a glossy global phenomenon as evidence of a few non-traditional revolutionary role models. It may be a stretch, but if done well then stretching traditional rule-restraints can't hurt...

When I see Snoop Dogg and Lil' Jon pimpin' porno and crunk worldwide, I don't just see caricatures, I see an evolution in global social acceptance that is legitimizing lifestyles many want to live without harming anyone else. When I see the Durrrty South reppin' it with ice-grills, rims, and sizzurp, I don't just see wild-partying, I see people held down for so long now holdin' it down with so much pride that the world has to respect and admire them. When I see white people keepin' it as real as The Beastie Boys did back in the day, the youth of other cultures finding their voices in hip hop, and a growing generation of fans growing up to represent the culture...

I see revolution...

Peace, (NOW!!!)


Em came up battling, 50 came up on mixtapes...

--------------------------------------------------------------- really, it's a cinch: Em's 10th bullet would finally kill Fiddy, unless he was wearing a lyric-proof vest! :P

plus 50 would just play to his gun-talkin' thug strengths while Em would aim for punchlines, and in a battle in front of a crowd just waiting for them, punchlines win.

if you battled like most "lookin' at they' shoes thug rappers" with nuthin' but cold similes and metaphors for fuckin' someone up, you'd get smoked. whereas if you threw nuthing but battle-rhymes over a beat, it's often too angry and a-rhythmical (i.e. squeezing words in for punchlines vs. timing them for the beat) to be as good.

even Em complains about his first album feeling like this, as he was just coming off his battle-career. Talib Kweli sometimes rhymes like a battle-rapper, he complained he wrote out his rhymes first and then squeezed them into the beat on "Reflection Eternal". it's still a great album, but takes a few listens to truly get all the double-time lyrics. i saw him in do a concert at a battle-event in T-Dot, and he stopped the show to say: "When I say throw ya hands up, y'all throw ya hands up! All right?"

i gotta be honest: we didn't hear him the first time. (bad sound at hip hop concerts too.)

but just count how many battle-rappers have blown up, you'll still see way-more on the corner. still, Em did and it can be done, so good luck to all those who can get rich while tryin', y'all do come out with some of the wickedest shit, and anyone who flip it truly crazy off the dome (Big L, Jay-Z, Big'n'Pac, Em, Cassidy, Moe Dee...) is going someplace truly cool to get it.

so, don't get it twisted: i think in a straight-thug-off, while Em is still crazy, 50 would out-thug the shit out of him. however, we can't forget what makes the best battle, one of the realest styles in hip hop, and for now it's still nuts-swangin' beat-bangin' whip-smart lyrical-lacerations...




Black Krishna Brand

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