Hip Hop is Great
Every February, Black History month is summarily ignored. That’s because it focuses on old achievements like George Washington Carver’s quest to promote sensible, efficient crops like sweet potatoes and peanuts.
While Carver’s work as an agriculturalist is actually really important and quite interesting to me, it is easy to see why it is considered boring and irrelevant to young people today.
We as intelligent Americans need to move past political correctness and the idle fantasy of a color-blind society. We need to embrace the greatest achievement that the black community has made to our culture: hip hop music.
Hip hop is a unique and fascinating art form. It has quickly risen from the fringes of the urban music scene to grab a strangle hold on the Billboard charts. Like it or not, hip hop has captured the imagination of a generation of Americans.
Certainly music is a matter of taste. I argue that the repetitive percussion/synthesizer sound of hip hop makes for the catchiest pop songs and the most inspiring dance songs on the planet.
Others will argue that rap music is insufferable noise and will go back to listening to the guitar music they grew up with. Fair enough.
What is UNarguable is that hip hop artists are much better writers than rockers or country singers. The level of wordsmanship and the complexity of the rhyming in rap songs is a quantum leap ahead of what passes as songwriting in white music.
This is particularly impressive considering rockers have the advantage of having the freedom to write songs about whatever they please. Anything goes in rock music: you can write about women and wine, witchcraft and walruses – whatever comes to mind. Or a rocker can simply let his or her lousy lyrics get drowned out by the music.
Rappers do not have that freedom. Their words are front and center on every song, and there are only a handful of topics they can write about. Pretty much all rap songs are about:
Boasting about how much money you have and the ostentatious things you spend your money on.
Boasting about how tough you are and how adept you are at defeating your enemies with your fists and/or firearms.
Boasting about how many women you attract and how successful you are at pleasing them.
Boasting about what a great wordsmith you are, often by specifically comparing yourself favorably to other rappers.
Even with the severe artistic limitations imposed on them, rappers routinely manage to come up with amazingly eloquent, sophisticated, witty, meaningful lyrics.
And it isn’t just the critically acclaimed, willfully artistic rappers like Nas and Kid Cudi who write great songs. A completely unpretentious guy like Ludacris writes consistently clever, smart, fun-loving hip hop hits.
The pop-rapper Flo Rida clearly has spent more time in the weight room than English class; yet he manages to come up with rhymes that are so catchy and deceptively complex that they make Mick Jagger and Don Henley look like slow-witted hacks.
I am not ashamed to say I have actually learned a lot about the world from rap songs. Due to the frank misogyny of hip hop, I have learned much about the sometimes ugly reality of male/female relationships.
I learned more about the challenging experience of being a black male from DMX’s evocative “Who We Be” than from twenty years of liberal schooling.
Enimen’s brilliant anti-Iraq war tirade “Square Dance” is more convincing than every bombastic Green Day protest song combined.
I understand that hip hop is an acquired taste and will never be appreciated by everyone. However, everyone needs to accept the fact that hip hop is a vibrant, intelligent, all-American art form. And it is here to stay.