Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rap Crap?

We found this great website ( dedicated to "foreigners" living in Bonus Aires.  It has been a big help and has answered many of our questions, such as:  How much do we tip taxi drivers, where's the Indian grocery, are there any bars that show American football, and why doesn't anyone speak English?

The other day, I was forced to become a member of the site, because some grumpy old jerks were complaining about Lady Gaga, and going on about how she's destroying music, and how she doesn't have any talent, and blah, blah, blah...  It gets so old listening to people criticize music.  Music is art.  It is subjective.  Some of it's good, and some of it's bad.  Some people say Britney Spears has no talent, but they are wrong.  She was singing and dancing on the Disney Channel when she was 11.  She must have some talent in there somewhere.

Anyway, so I was looking through the baexpats site the other day and reading about how Lady Gaga is ruining music, when I came upon a post by some guy named Ghost, who made the bold statement that he no longer has faith in the future of the world, because rap music is for people who are stupid.  You can call rappers a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them.

So, I had to become a member of the site so I could respond.  Aaron Lucas-style.

POST BY GHOST:  If Lady Gaga concerns you.......try watching and listening to some "RAP" crap. I used to have some faith in the future until I found out that this noise is the most popular "music" in the market. [I guess it's the market for those with IQs under 75]

RESPONSE BY JOHN:  While not being a huge fan of rap music myself, I think it is important to give it a fair listen or at least make a stab at understanding it before jumping to conclusions, because you’re right, IT IS the most popular and best-selling music in today’s market.

Hip-hop music gets a bad “rap” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) because of the lyrics and actions of a select few “gangsta rappers,” who reply heavily on shock value to sell records.  Sadly, this method is apparently working quite well (Lady Gaga is a prime example).  This small section of hip-hop artists and rappers (or performance artists like Miss Gaga) dominate our mainstream media coverage because of their outlandish antics, arrests, and drug problems.

Contrary to what we read in the papers, most rap songs are positive in tone or cleverly worded documentaries of today’s hard times.  The lyrics are quick, smart, and thought provoking (and leagues above lyrics written by current rock, pop, and country artists). Most rappers feel the need to influence their fans in a positive manner, and to use the power of their forum to inspire kids who are living in the ghettos from which they themselves were spawned – even if they do so wearing baggy pants and gold chains.

In fact, it is because of their intelligent, relevant, and thoughtful lyrics, that rap stars now find themselves (like it or not) with a largely middle-class audience, deriving from numerous races, countries, and age groups.  They are rapping about the everyday problems of the common man, and people are listening.  This is very similar to how some of our greatest songwriters got their start - Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, and Willie Nelson come to mind.  They came from nothing, and wrote songs about what they knew and what they believed in, and it earned them respect.  And I’d suspect that Bruce and Willie have a great respect for many of today’s rappers.  Interestingly enough, Johnny Cash chose Rick Rubin to produce his critically acclaimed final album, and Rubin was instrumental in bringing rap music to the mainstream in the early ‘80s with controversial acts (at the time) like Run DMC and The Beastie Boys. 

Just because you don’t like the sound of a song, or the look of an artist, doesn’t mean that the music is meant for people with low IQs.  Sometimes it’s worth digging a little deeper before rushing to judgment, because you run the risk of sounding like a closed-minded curmudgeon… 


  1. I can't wait to hear whether Ghost responds to your post. Last week at poker, someone was bad-mouthing rap music (remember, two of the guys in my game are in their mid-70s!) and I tried to explain that it wasn't all crapola. I've downloaded a couple of good rap songs and will play them tonight.

    Let's compare notes, ok? ;-)

    know wat i sayin'?

  2. Excellent response, honey. I'm pleased that you understand so well that the most effective way to communicate your point of view is through facts and reason, rather than with ridicule and name-calling. If more of today's pundits took their cue from writers like you, our national discourse would immediately become more civil.