Rap Music: A Diminishing Artform
When you think about the words “escape reality,” what comes to mind? Are you sitting on the couch indulging in a new TV show, or are you being captivated by the book you’re reading? Escaping reality can look different for many people, but for me, my escape is music, specifically old-school hip hop.
For me, it was always more than just the sound of the bass pulsating through my headphones and the feeling of my elevated heart r,ate. I’m a writer by nature, and so poetry has always been fascinating to me. The ability to create an entire story while keeping a rhythm. So naturally, when it comes to listening to music, I gravitate towards old-school hip hop. And I say old-school because the rappers of today’s world, in my humble opinion, are just not up to par in comparison to their predecessors.
In today’s world, anyone can press a button and record into a mic, rhyme a few words, add a nice beat, and be considered a rapper, but only a select few can be true MCs. This goes for many famous rappers today who depend on fame and appearance more than the art form itself. I have noticed a motif in contemporary rap, and that is circumlocution. In other words, they talk a lot without saying anything at all.
One song that comes to mind is “Yes I Do” by French Montana, and since nobody listens to French Montana allow me to repeat the lyrics for context:
“Go-Go-Go and tell my opps I don’t want no smoke (Yes, I do) Go-Go and tell the cops I don’t got no dope (Yes, I do) I-I just copped a truck, I don’t want the drop (Yes, I do)”
My interpretation of this song is that French Montana is just stating things that he does and then re-affirming it with the words “yes I do,” ergo the title is “Yes I Do.” Sure, you could argue that there is a theme to this song, but in my opinion, it is rather insipid to talk about random things you do with no real purpose or story. Perhaps if you analyze the lyrics, you might realize how nonsensical this verse, and the majority of the song, is.
Hip hop today has strayed away from its roots, back when there was a story to be told. Rap music is more than just rhyming words together, it is poetry, and every lyric spoken has its purpose.
When I was around sixteen, I haphazardly put on a music station that played old-school jams. After I shuffled through a plethora of songs, there was one that really struck a chord with me. It’s called “B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)” by Killah Priest. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to hear this song, here is a portion of the lyrics for context:
“And too much knowledge, it might break up the rhyme
I did it anyway just to wake up the mind
Of those who kiss stones or prays on the carpet
Those who sit home or sell books by the market
Need to chill and get their mind revived
For years religion, did nothing but divide
The Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”
In this song, Killah Priest is relaying his knowledge and what he has learned throughout his life and struggles with his religious identity. Every single word he speaks has meaning, it has a purpose. Rather than use his platform to incessantly brag about his materialistic earnings, he wants to bring awareness to subjects many people shy away from, in this case, religion. When he speaks his words, I find myself in deep contemplation, letting every word sit in my brain and I resonate with the words he speaks.
Rapping was more than a career choice for past MCs, it was an honor for them to be able to tell the world about their philosophies, and struggles. They gave a voice to those who lived life in misery and anguish, and they gave understanding to those who’ve never learned what real-life struggles are. Rap music was an alternative to poetry, but it was poetry, nonetheless. Now we’ve ignored the lyrics and care more about which rapper has the better status, better beat, and/or better-looking women.
So, for my generation and the future ones that will come, I ask you this, is listening to a good beat worth diminishing the art form that is rap?