My mom’s favorite line when she hears the rap music my brother listens to is, “there is a reason why rap rhymes with crap.” Of course then my brother defends rap music by saying you don’t understand that there is a lot of poetry and deep lyrical thought behind the verses, then of course my mom’s rebuttal is “I still don’t like it.” I’m sure all of you out there have had this disagreement with your parents where they don’t understand why you like the music you like, but what I don’t understand is where did this music elitism stem from? Is it just the love that generations have for the time they grew up in? Is it because they had kids and didn’t really keep up with new genres that were coming up because they were driving kids to baseball practice and dance classes? Or is it because as a kid and a teenager, music speaks to you at a level when you feel like no one understands you?
I still haven’t quite figured out the answer to this question, but what I do know is that new genres and styles of music stem from the past, so why doesn’t everyone like all genres like me? To continue with the rap music lineage, it is based around storytelling, which is the basis of every music genre in existence. Taking it one step further, this type of music is tied to other styles such as jazz, rhythm and blues, and gospel music. It is tied to the rich history of the streets of New York City and ultimately became a way of expression for the African American and Latino communities in the 1980s. Rap music started off being spoken instead of sung with strong beats, an intense rhythm, and ability to develop strong lyrics if the rapper is truly talented.
Now, I know what the baby boomer generation is thinking especially my mother – “it’s still crap.” In many cases, just like any genre, if you listen to one artists and you don’t like their music it turns you off to the entire style. TuPac is one of the greatest rappers to ever exist. His song Dear Mama is something that hits you deep in the gut when you are listening to it. It brings you back to various points of time in his life, regrets he’s had from his choices, and gives you an image to develop characters in a story like you are reading a book. My brother is obsessed with Eminem. I think Eminem is another artist who has come out of this genre strong. His songs connect to his life, and gives an insight to what he has gone through. This gives listeners the ability to feel like they are understood and connect on a more personal level. For example, Eminem’s Lose Yourself says,
“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”
How can this music be crap? Parents, teenagers, and kids I encourage you to give one another’s generational music a chance. Classical isn’t boring, rap isn’t crap, and pop music isn’t sub par to the rest of the styles out there. The next time someone comes to you with new music figure out why they like it, ask questions, and develop some insight on where it came from. History might surprise you.