I’m not a huge fan of rap. Stereotypically it seems like a bunch of scary looking guys with gold in their teeth, on a big boat with half naked women. There’s lots of ass shaking and as far as a genre it just has never really appealed to me.
But, like most things in life if you look below the surface that’s wear the true essence lies. I can count on one hand how many rap artists I’ve heard, let alone like. On my iPod, in the rap category, Eminem and Jay Z tend to dominate. I’m not an aficionado by any stretch and I don’t want to be.
I have several songs that feature Lil John (there are lots of “Lil”s in rap music…not sure why anyone would want to be Lil, but there’s a lot I don’t understand), Ludacris (I’ve already discussed my strange attraction to him and his voice), but most of the songs featuring these rappers are not considered rap. They are dance tunes with a little rap section. Rap for those of us that can’t take the whole thing.
All of that being said, I can truly appreciate the art of rapping and that is where, regardless of content, my fascination lies.
Eminem is an artist, a person with a true talent that, while I don’t always understand the anger and I don’t pretend to understand the lifestyle, I whole heartedly appreciate. I enjoy listening to the way he puts words together and the beats he chooses to share those words with his listeners.
Top on my list lately is Jay Z, mainly because I like to watch him perform. There’s a fluidity to his movements and because his words, or rhymes, are usually intensely personal I believe him. That is something that is often missing from mainstream music, not that either of these artists are not mainstream, they are hugely successful, but the honesty in the lyric of many rap artists is what I enjoy. Jay Z did not buy Roc Boys from some hit factory. I don’t even need to look it up, I know he wrote it.
Rap music often gets a bad name, due largely in part to the image they try to project, but underneath it all many of these artists are poets and really wonderful performers. I’ve never lived in the ghetto, done a drug deal, or busted a cap. I don’t like that they use the “n” word because it, like many words is violent and offensive. But I do appreciate the artistry, the craft. I’m certain I am not rap music’s demographic, but I’m constantly looking for signs that we are not just a cookie cut out American Idol, reality TV society, lemmings if you will, and I find some glimmers of individuality in these artists.
Many parents freak out and won’t let their children listen to rap music because of the content, but they’ll let them watch Family Guy or The Hills. Please! Rap music content is like everything else, if it comes from a place of honesty within the artist share it with your children and most importantly – Explain. Hiding never works.
So tonight from the laundry room I tip my hat, if I had a Yankee Cap I would tip it, but I don’t, to Jay Z and many artists like him. There are so many things that make us different, but I appreciate your craft.
Don’t set the alarm!