Lemmy: 'Hip Hop Is Not Music'

Never one to mince his words, Motorhead front man Lemmy Kilmister recently shared his views on the state of modern music with Atlantic City Weekly.

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Never one to mince his words, Motrhead front man Lemmy Kilmister recently shared his views on the state of modern music with Atlantic City Weekly. When asked to express his thoughts on hip hop, the metal legend had the following to say:

"Why should I do that when it's not music... There's nothing creative about doing that [rapping] over music someone else created. They go out and take John Bonham's drumming. I don't call that music. You think they [rappers] could come up with sounds of their own, even some basic sounds and they can't do it. Sad."

In the interview, Lemmy also expresses his grievance with the boring, clean living attitude of some of today's pop stalwarts:

"It kills me how bland this period is... You go backstage these days and you see 20 bottles of Perrier and a bag of nuts. What's wrong with this fucking picture? Everything is so healthy today and it's terrible. I don't get it... What the fuck is it about John Mayer?... Someone should explain him to me. And the same goes for Justin Bieber. They're all such boring people. They're so fucking serious. I'm not interested in people as boring as that. It's a shame these people are popular entertainers."

Motrhead's twentieth studio album The Wrld Is Yours was released on CD and LP on January 17th. The band has recently completed a US tour in support of the disc. The Rockumentary Lemmy, a retrospective on the front man's career, was released on DVD on January 25th, and features interviews with artists including Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Grohl and Metallica.

752 comments sorted by best / new / date

    soapalot
    I think Lemmy's making generalisations about hip hop music. Not all artists are as low as Black Eyed Peas and steal their music from others. A great deal create their own beats and samples for the MC to rap over. I do like his assessment of the pop stars of today though.
    barn.leecounty
    wrong. The beats are created electronically. A machine creates them, there's no musical talent involved which was his point. A music playing a beat and someone talking over it isn't music.
    JDizzle787
    Well, the funny thing is he's wrong. I'd like to see him try to write the "beats" to a song like an actual good DJ can. Take The Roots for example, which clearly negate his perspective. I only agree with his point that there is a fairly low point of contemporary pop/ mainstream music right now. Then again, he's Lemmy.
    RiffYourFaceOff
    Rap and hip hop certainly are legitimate music genres and believe it or not, there is good stuff out there. Like many genres, you sometimes have to dig a little to find it, but it's there (this coming from someone who wouldn't say they are a big rap/hip hop fan). So basically what \m/-Metallica said. I still like Lemmy though.
    Duality Ninja
    I half agree with Lemmy. I mean, there ARE hip hop artists that produce and write their own music, but John Mayer is the shit.
    SlashFan810
    Saying Hip Hop isn't a creative musical endeavor simply because of what he's likely only heard on the radio is like saying Metal/Rock isn't real music because of the rehashed chord progressions and gimmicky aggression of bad nu metal bands and groups like nickelback. The musical origins of the culture are very involved in lyrical and melodic creativity and have been relevant to some of the most important protest music in the world. Lemmy is the man, but his perspective is clearly lacking.
    Gunpowder
    I completely disagree with Lemmy on all points. As has been mentioned, plenty of hip hop artists and rappers come up with their own beats, but the whole point of the hip hop scene, how it started, was for people to engage music who didn't have the funds to afford instruments in the first place. That's how the whole scene started. The creative use of language and rhythm is also a huge factor in the creation of hip hop music. As for modern musicians being "bland" and "boring people": being healthy and taking care of yourself does not equate to being boring. Some of the most interesting people I've met have never touched a drop of alcohol or done any sort of drug. Calling them boring for not engaging in it is incredibly foolish and irresponsible, in my opinion; he sounds like one of those immature high schoolers who thinks of nothing but "getting ****ed up." Besides, it was that very thing that led to Bonham's untimely death...It is very foolish for him to criticize others for not engaging in a self-destructive behavior simply because they are musicians. After all, different strokes, and all that. Also, I find Motorhead's music to be bland and boring. Sorry for the novel, guys, just had to add my two cents :p
    ChucklesMginty
    He didn't say hip hop is not music, he said rapping over a beat someone else made is not music. As opposed to rappers who write there own stuff.
    minusxero
    flyneye wrote: He is ABSOLUTELY right. By definition western music is harmony. Rap is atonal,percussive and lacks musicians. It does however have technicians pushing buttons to activate bits of recorded music by actual musicians along with random sounds of no particular key to emphasize the percussion. Lately, they like to dress rap up with some singing and harmonys in the background, usually prerecorded. It's true rappers equate talent with whatever clever rhyme they can think of. Compared to actually making music this is a tiny underachievement, but they have been told by parents, teachers and random peers what clever rare talent they posess. Jeeze.
    I advise you and Lemmy to check out The Roots.
    David34343
    Lemmy please listen to this before you generalize hip hop like that.
    Respect lost for you dude
    IMABBALLPLAYER
    i_am_metalhead wrote: No it doesn't. With a guitar you are actually PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT AND WRITING MUSIC. Using a computer to put together prerecorded stuff is not writing music.
    Who's to say that a computer can't be considered an instrument?
    Clayden82
    Well said Mr Lemmy!!!! Hip Hop is talentless garbage. Anyone can just stand there, press a button and then talk over an electronic and very dull drum beat. Playing guitar, drums, bass and professional vocals takes skill, talent, and years and years of practise and dedication. What other style of music gives you legendary vocalists like Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson Robert Plant and Rob Halford. That is true talent and musicianship. Rock and Roll is the only true music!!
    MusicVSgenres
    What Lemmy is claiming about hiphop or rapping is equivalent to someone judging the talent in punk-rock by Fall out Boy or judging metal by Evanescence, or judging hollywood's acting caliber by Julia Roberts. Rage Against the Machine is rapping, and thats some powerful shit, no1 can deny that. Hardcore punk, stuff like Black Flag, Cro Mags etc, had a fair bit of rapping style of singing. Lemmy obviously has not dug deep into the genre, which is why hes basing his opinion on hiphop through a myopic glance at the mainstream stuff like 50 Cent and Kanye west. Secondly, yeah what Lemmys trying to say with the Perrier and nuts is that, the spirit of rocknroll isnt that dangerous as it used to be, with the hard partying and drugs and booze. But u know what? Thats fine Lemmy, cause its all about the music. Every era has had its good and bad music, and this one is no different. Lemmy is just getting nostalgic, but theres enough garbage music from his time as well, maybe not as much as now, as there was no internet to distribute and no ability to record at home for any amateurs back then.
    gapazian
    you really gonna tell me this doesn't require a shitload of talent? please, don't embarrass yourselves.
    HavokStrife
    That's pretty awesome someone with as much prestige as Lemmy isn't scared to tell it like it is!
    not_dead_enough
    Agreed - hip hop is poetry, not music (if you'd even call it that). People who like it like it for the lyrics... the music just gives it something to groove to. There's no creativity in song construction or anything.
    Gord@k
    Lemmy hasn't heard of people like Aesop Rock,Sage Francis or even Kany West, who are very proficient musicians. And calling guys like Dj Shadow not a musician just because he uses samples is silly, that guy takes fractions of thousands of songs and makes something new from it. I agree to some extent with Lemmy but he needs to broaden his mind a bit. On the part about modern performers lacking balls, i agree to 100%, Well spoken.
    beineken
    Wow. Sad to see Lemmy is one of the most ignorant professional musicians around today. The potential for hip-hop's influence on rock music is massive-just look at Rage Against the Machine. Tom Morello always talks about how he ended up studying DJs over the guitar greats to get his sound, and I'll take RAtM over Motorhead any day. Also, if Lemmy is actually capable of generalizing to say hip-hop artists are not musicians, then he clearly has yet to check out artists like Madlib (not that I would expect ANY near 70 year old to have heard of him). Rumor has it Madlib makes 6 hours of music a day. Last year he put out 12 albums, all of them brilliant, all of them hip-hop based, except he played many of the live instruments on all of them. Somebody like Madlib is, arguably, a better musician than Lemmy, who is very good at creating a fairly repetitive sound and screaming into a microphone. Also, if he finds John Mayer to be bland and boring, he knows nothing of John Mayer, another fantastic (and hilarious, to boot) musician. Just the fact that Lemmy can even put John Mayer and Justin Bieber in the same sentence is a testament to his ignorance. One writes all of his own music and is a brilliant, Berklee trained guitarist, the other is, well, Justin Bieber. Ugh. This is disappointing to hear from someone like Lemmy who I have to put on a pedestal because I'm a huge metal fan. Always lame to find out your gods don't know what they're talking about. I felt a similar feeling a few weeks ago when Mustaine was equating Socialism to Communism.
    soadlp02
    Lemmy is right. Jurassic 5 and The Roots never played any instruments and were just biting other musicians styles. He's just mad because Motorhead is no longer relevant.
    me_llamo_juan
    TheHardYard wrote: Hip hop has ZERO staying power. Hip hop fans are the most fickle of all fans. Flavor of the month stuff. I prefer BANDS that play INSTRUMENTS . Hip hop is not music, it is entertainment...and bad entertainment at that. Lemmy Rules.
    The Roots. Common. Helly, Jay-Z has a live band too. And there's plenty more that do. So please, be more informed next time.
    fitterhappier34
    This has probably been said multiple times throughout this thread, but I think this ugly old troll should listen to The Roots.
    mysticguitar77
    minusxero wrote: flyneye wrote: He is ABSOLUTELY right. By definition western music is harmony. Rap is atonal,percussive and lacks musicians. It does however have technicians pushing buttons to activate bits of recorded music by actual musicians along with random sounds of no particular key to emphasize the percussion. Lately, they like to dress rap up with some singing and harmonys in the background, usually prerecorded. It's true rappers equate talent with whatever clever rhyme they can think of. Compared to actually making music this is a tiny underachievement, but they have been told by parents, teachers and random peers what clever rare talent they posess. Jeeze. I advise you and Lemmy to check out The Roots.
    100% agree along with Immortal Technique and Wu Tang Clan if you want to hear good rap/hip hop. And I love how so many people here are stereotyping rap/hip hop from what you hear of it everyday. You're just as ignorant as Lemmy is.
    gapazian
    mckenna64 wrote: gapazian wrote: damn, no html code it appears. anyway,
    i'm sure that guy is good, but what did that show exactly? listen to the original track by pat benetar (love is a battlefield) and it sounds exactly the same, only they used guitar, bass, drums and keyboard.
    you don't get sampling, do you?
    Jesus_Dean
    GOD has spoken!! ...so spin those caps back around to the front, pull your pants up, tie your shoes and head out to your nearest record store and buy a Motrhead CD.
    TheHardYard
    Hip hop has ZERO staying power. Hip hop fans are the most fickle of all fans. Flavor of the month stuff. I prefer BANDS that play INSTRUMENTS. Hip hop is not music, it is entertainment...and bad entertainment at that. Lemmy Rules.
    Jøhnny
    jetfuel495 wrote: aerosteel666 wrote: I agree lemmy youre the man its boring to hear hip hop makes me wanna fall to sleep. No emotion and very boring. Its much funner to go to a rock concert. Kids today are closed minded thanks to the media(MTV). im 14 and i agree with you. long live Lemmy. There are so many things wrong with this post that I don't even know where to start.
    Opinions are wrong? Nice job on being objective
    slayer_rule_\m/
    1800tool wrote: good on you lemmy, you are absalutely right hip hop is NOT music, there is nothing musical about it, and to the **** head who said that it has beat and rythm and that makes it music, melody and harmony make it music you idiot. Drone metal has more ****ing harmony than rap or hip hop. Another thing is the earliest types of wirttem music was classical, which has NO singing in it. That was th blue print for music, since thn singing has been added to the instruments, but now they've just gotten rid of the most important part of music and added stupid and annoying noises, also they dont even sing anymore, they just talk to lyrics and use autp tune to do ther rest, its almost as bad as techno. Hip hop is NOT music!
    This probably wins the award for THE most moronic/ignorant/possibly even the most trollish post. The '****head' is right, that does make it music. Rythm in drone metal? That's not the point of drone metal at all. Classical was not the earliest type of music written. The classical period was around between roughly 1750 and 1830 and there were lots of pieces with vocals in. It most certainly is not the 'blue print' for most of todays music (see blues for that). Yeah I hate auto tune too, which is why I listen to hip hop artists who dont use it. Plenty of them, don't let t pain represent all of 'hip hop'. This article was a huge troll! So much arguing mainly people posting dumn ignorant opinions and getting a mouthful from people who actually know what they're talking about.
    chhang
    music is organized sound. yet music is more than organized sound. hip hop is good but just like rock music (or music of today) its completely saturated with crap and people like it. so he is right in a way. i dont think he was calling beiber boring cus he doesnt drink, he was just calling him and meyer a boring artist period. music and things are crap nowdays cus people like crap and they suck. and lemmy aint metal, he rock an ****in roll
    Lord Waltaa
    Oh wow this is so awesome. At least someone who dares say in public Good one Lemmy, may warts come away of your face
    OdderOne
    [quote]Smillzer wrote: He's also almost 70 years old. Some overgeneralizing occurs.[/quote This. I kinda agree with him, though I do know plenty of hip-hop artists that manage to use original beats and actual music. Either way, agree with him on the pop artist front lol
    davecooper
    By definition, RAP is not music, it's Radical American Poetry. Put a backing beat to it, in fact put what you like to it but don't call it music. If you accompanied a piece of spoken Shelley or Wordsworth with a guitar, would it be music? No it would still be poetry. Now, if those words are sung, that becomes music. Thats my view anyway.
    Dakkstar
    sandyman323 wrote: john mayer's not a musician? Lemmy is blind.
    I think Lemmy was more going on about the health thing and the boring person kind of thing, not that he's not a musician. John Mayer bores him as he doesn't have a big personality, he has skill.
    john-54eva
    This is funny. Everyone thinks lemmy is god. Firstly, nearly every Motorhead song has the same riff, chord progression and same structure. O sorry if im being ignorant but I dont give a shit. And Secondly to be a true musician you should respect all kinds of music even if you dont like it. I can think of ten hip hop artists who are more talented then motorhead. Lastly, John Mayer is way more of a god then Lemmy will ever be and a miles better musician. So much respect lost mate, your one of the people not keeping music alive.
    kiranb13
    soapalot wrote: I think Lemmy's making generalisations about hip hop music. Not all artists are as low as Black Eyed Peas and steal their music from others. A great deal create their own beats and samples for the MC to rap over. I do like his assessment of the pop stars of today though.
    They don't even write their own lyrics
    morgy159
    Well let's just consider for a moment that Lemmy can't say anything for the music industry, because he made like 2 good songs. And besides, rapping is modern poetry. It's not cliche to say that. Look at any poet in the past and they use slang terms. And to be perfectly honest, most rappers don't rap about bitches and money, its very passionate. Usually, if not, more emotional than even blues. Musicians are about the music. Lemmy, he's about filling his pint with as much drugs as he can fit in the glass. Rock n roll Lemmy, great image that promotes.
    espChris93
    Wow, That a sting to my heart making me lose a whole lot of respect for Lemmy. Do some research bud, not everything on radio stations or in clubs is rap music. I hardly think he, or any of you metalheads defending him would have the same views if you sat down and had a chat with Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common or MF DOOM.
    Zyko_Demon
    Now here is a guy who sounds like he lives in god damned LA and does yoga on the weekends and truly doesn't have the fire of Heavy Metal burning within.
    Gunpowder wrote: I completely disagree with Lemmy on all points. As has been mentioned, plenty of hip hop artists and rappers come up with their own beats, but the whole point of the hip hop scene, how it started, was for people to engage music who didn't have the funds to afford instruments in the first place. That's how the whole scene started. The creative use of language and rhythm is also a huge factor in the creation of hip hop music. As for modern musicians being "bland" and "boring people": being healthy and taking care of yourself does not equate to being boring. Some of the most interesting people I've met have never touched a drop of alcohol or done any sort of drug. Calling them boring for not engaging in it is incredibly foolish and irresponsible, in my opinion; he sounds like one of those immature high schoolers who thinks of nothing but "getting ****ed up." Besides, it was that very thing that led to Bonham's untimely death...It is very foolish for him to criticize others for not engaging in a self-destructive behavior simply because they are musicians. After all, different strokes, and all that. Also, I find Motorhead's music to be bland and boring. Sorry for the novel, guys, just had to add my two cents :p
    james975
    lol this guy is entitled to his opinion but would he like 16 or 17 year old Justin Beiber to have booze, drugs and hookers backstage at all his shows? i'm not a fan of the kids music but having anything other than Perrier kinda goes against the image he is trying to portray. this guy seems a tad better. But **** John Mayer. 100%
    jambi_mantra
    Oh look the elitists are here. Motorhead sucks. Most hip hop is awesome, some sucks, just like every other genre.
    Kenneth19
    I mean, if hip-hop wasn't music, then why is not making as much money as them? Exactly. When I say "hip-hop," I'm not talking about all that "soulja boy" bullshit. I'm talking about poetry and the real emcees like Mos Def and Sage Francis. Spoken word shit, not that pop shit play nowadays. Listen to Rewrite or better yet, "Best of Times" by Sage Francis and tell me that isn't true music. Definitely more emotional with better technique and writing than what this douchebag has ever written.
    Cobalt Blue
    chhang wrote: and lemmy aint metal, he rock an ****in roll
    Clearly somebody has to to tell me the very specific definition of 'metal' if Lemmy cannot be considered metal... Lemmy is awesome that's all I have to say "PUT THE BASS UP WILL YA!"
    Kroach
    Lemmy sounds like a 12 year old: "hip hop isn't music l0l0lz!" "drugz and alcohol are the br00talz!!!"
    Reagar
    I do agree with his thing about backing tracks ripped off other songs to some extent, but I mean, I'd consider Eminem to be far more talented than Lemmy. I'm currently listening to their second most popular song on Spotify and it's horrendously average. Found the comment about people not being boozy or druggy enough to be pretty pathetic. A true musician would know that music shouldn't be about personality or ridiculous controversial antics. Although it is more interesting when people are controversial, if they don't want to why should they be so.