This is about rap. There's some parts about punk but mainly it's about rap. This is also long, so if reading scares you or you have add, exit, stage left.
Rap is a term I despise. So right now, we're gonna throw the word rap out the door. Instead we are going to use a blanket term here, in this case, the term hip hop. When we use the term rap from now on, it'll be only in reference to the actual lyrical poetry. It's forbidden. Don't even think of saying it. So anyways, The point of this article is to give you some education. Yes! Education! And I'm playing teacher, just like those funny little adults who stand in front of you for six hours a day.
Let's start with a little history lesson. Gather 'round kiddies! Now, Hip Hop was an interesting birthing. Rap is a bastard child of a couple genres, (another term I despise) specifically, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Soul and dare I say... Punk. Punk?!? Did he say Punk?!? Now, your first reaction will probably be, Well, golly Mr. An_anvil_tree! I've heard Good Charlotte and I've heard 50 Cent and these fellas couldn't be more polar! Excellent observation! I'll come back to the Punk connection in a moment, but first a quick summation of the rest of Hip Hop History 101.
You see, back in the 70's, small steps were being taking that would alter the face of music. Songs such as The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron and Ego-tripping Out by Marvin Gaye began employing the first raps. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is personal favorite of mine, scathingly political and direct. These raps are a far cry from what is labeled and packaged as Hip Hop on your local music channel. Often times, these seminal raps didn't even rhyme! Nuts, huh? So anyways, the with the lyrical aspect out there, all that's left is the musical aspect. This came about simply about simply by local DJ's sampling music from various artists for dancing with eventually became know as break-dancing.
You have to realize, that a genre (bleh) doesn't come into it's own until it's commercially successful. After all, when a Recording Company picks up an album and prepares to invest it's time and money into it, the boys and girls in marketing gotta know what to call it. Thus, genres are born, MTV lives, Clear Channel cannibalizes, baby Jesus cries. Hip Hop comes into it's own in the late 70's, explodes in the 80's and is now on the top of the charts, sitting pretty next to American Idol singles and oh, I dunno, let's say Random Rock Band #5. I could tell you about every significant artist from the Sugar Hill Gang to Run DMC to Tupac to Jay-Z, but I'd find that boring and I'm sure you would too. I know you are about ready to comment rap sucks on this article. I can see it in your eyes. Some of you probably already have. Oh, well. Now since you are versed in a bit of the history, we can get on to other things. For example, the relevance of Punk in an article about Hip Hop.
Hip Hop is Punk's genuine cousin. Now let me explain this before things get out of hand. Initially speaking in Hip Hop, there's no real trace of Punk musical influence. When I say Hip Hop comes from Punk, (or vice versa, seeing as the two styles appeared around the same time). I mean in ideals. The traditional Punk ideals were very simple: No rules. Gimme music without compromise. Everything goes; the Velvet Underground, Stooges and New York Dolls gave birth to a kicking, screaming dynasty where the Ramones did it fast, the Clash did it smart, The Misfits made it manic and Fugazi did it on their own terms. In the beginning, the same sentiment was applied in Hip Hop. It was communal and they did what they wanted. All the while, drugs, hoes and poverty were the inner city backdrop in this chance to be laid-back, work without structure. Rapper's Delight eased into casette players, blared out of boom-boxes. It wasn't about the atrocities of the inner city, bling, and cars; and for a moment, those who enjoyed it weren't worried about those things (or never being able to get those things). And just like those seminal Punks, seminal Hip Hop artists did it their way. Kurtis Blow paved the way, Big Daddy Kane was decadent yet never made it who he was, Public Enemy spit fire, all the while telling you how it was, N.W.A gave a glimpse of the life and Run DMC? They only demolished every single barrier Hip Hop faced. Give me Jam Master Jay, I'll show you Joe Strummer. Run DMC and the Clash were one in the same.
Beyond those original ideals, Punk and Hip Hop floated away from each other. There was never the monumental Punk-Hip Hop crossover that there should have been. Well, actually this is probably a good thing, seeing as what happened when Metal and Hip Hop made love. Anyways, I see Punk and Hip Hop as the same still today. Both genres are in the same position today. Look on the charts and the bands on the top of these genres aren't the one's that are the most talented (not to say they are talentless either) , nor are they groundbreaking in any manner. They are infectious, without a doubt. They have garnered the titles Pop-Punk and Pop-Rap. If you are happy with that as it stands, then just quit reading now. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But the problem with standing still is that after a while the music will get stagnant. Remember this, for every million copy-cat bands, whether it is Hip Hop, Punk, Metal, Emo, whatever, there are bands doing it right. For every tired 50 Cent lyric about In Da Club, there's a lyricist doing it right:
I rest my head on 155th
But miracles only have on 34th so I guess life is mean
And death is the median, and purgatory is the mode that we settle in
There you go, hopefully you are a little more edu-ma-cated, An_anvil_tree style. I hope you can take something from this and apply it to your own life. Well, ok that's probably very unlikely, but if you did make it this far, then I applaud you, no matter what you musical preference is. It shows you are willing to listen to another's opinion, take all the facts, and make an assessment of your own beyond Rap sucks! SoaD Rulez! But in the end, nothing I can say will really matter. You'll have your opinion, I, mine. And maybe you'll go own hating Hip Hop until your final breathe. That's fine. All I ask is that you answer this question: So how does it feel to achieve absolutely nothing? Now, I'm gonna go listen to some Tool, followed up by a little Outkast, peppered with Queens Of The Stone Age, The Roots and maybe some Bob Marley to top it off.