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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Music Makes Me High(ly disappointed at times)!!!

I LOVE RAP MUSIC! I'll be the first to let you know if you didn't already. Rap music is something that I listen to from morning to night, at breakfast, on the way to class, while doing reading for section, during meetings, before I go to sleep, and even in my dreams. This music with roots in disco and reggae created by Blacks and Latinos in the South Bronx sometime during the 1970s is remarkable, personal, popular, commercial, and powerful. I always take note to distinguish between rap and hip-hop. Despite what MTV may say, rap and hip-hop are very different! MTV recognizes this in a much more ambiguous way. MTV feels that Eminem and the Ying Yang Twins create rap while Snoop Dogg and Missy create hip-hop (while Jay-Z made hip-hop in 2003 but rap in 2004). Hip-hop is the overall culture that includes the elements of b-boying (breakdancing or simply "breakin"), graffiti (yeah, disrespecting property rights), and DJing along with speech, stroll, style of dress, and many other cultural markers. Rap is simply the music of this culture.

Seeing as how my love for rap is SO deep and SO pure, I must work to make it better in whatever way(s) possible. For a long time, I felt that this could be achieved through entering the profession as a rapper. This phase of my life lasted about four years (from age 12-16). Next, I felt that I could make it in the rap business as a record producer. This phase lasted about two years (from age 16-18). Finally, I thought that I could run my own record label and thereby put out the best music available anywhere in the world. This phase lasted about one year (17-18). Today I feel as though my contribution to the betterment of rap can come in the form of constructive criticism, each word being of equal import. This will be done through an acknowledgement of what rappers are ACTUALLY (literally) saying these days in their songs, although interpretations of the lyrics may vary. Today I will begin a weekly series of translation on Cambridge Common. Not from Spanish to English or Hindi to Arabic, but from Ebonics to plain English. Hopefully, this illumination will both spark debate as well as the creative juices of future rappers. Also, I hope that this may serve as education to the many individuals who simply rap the lyrics to these songs (or try to) better never really understaned their meaning. Rap music is so immensely powerful these days that it's influence can be one that is either positive or negative on billions of young people the world over. Let's use this power for good.

Song number #1 will be the first part of the #1 song in the country right now: Kanye West's "Gold Digger"... (more in expanded post)

I'm not saying she's a woman out to get my money and possessions,
but she's not messing with any ignorant people without it. (x2)
Continue on, girl, I encourage you to continue on. (x4)

Verse 1:
This girl is quite attractive I met her at a beauty salon,
with a small Louis Vuitton bag under her underarm,
she said "I can tell you're cool. I can tell by your charm",
as far as girls you have many,
I can tell by your large and expensive fine jewelry pieces around your neck and wrist,
I'm looking for one, have you seen her?,
My psychic told that she will have a buttocks like Serena Williams the tennis player,
Trina the rapper, or Jennifer Lopez the actress, four kids,
and must I take all of these misbehaving children to showbiz?,
very well then, get your kids, and then they got their friends,
I drove up to get them in a Mercedes-Benz, they all entered the vehicle,
the lot of us went to dine at Denny's Restaurant but I was forced to pay the bill,
if you are having casual sex with this girl then you best have lots of disposable income,
you know why? It takes too much to have casual sex with her,
I heard that she has a child whose father is the rapper Busta Rhymes,
my best friend told me she used to have casual sex with Usher,
I will disregard everything that you all have said. I still love her.

Read the lyrics of this song again to yourself. To compare them to the lyrics as Kanye stated them in the recorded version of this song click here. What do they say? What are the positive and negative attributes of the lyrics? What influence might these be having on the millions of young people who listen to these lyrics (slyly sugar-coated, of course) every day? I always say that if young kids (esp. Blacks and Latinos in this country) memorized social theory and math principles like they memorized Jay-Z or 50 Cent lyrics...oh what world it would be.


At 6:20 PM, Blogger Cal Ulmann said...

As far as how we would be better off if students memorized things like they do rap songs, here is an article about hip-hop being used as an educational tool:


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