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R.etards A.ttempting P.oetry or R.emarkable A.merican P.oetry?

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posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:00 PM

For people who have fully immersed themselves in hip hop, this topic has been discussed ad nauseam; however, for the general layperson this culture is unfortunately stereotyped as kitsch and vacuous.

Music is a powerful medium in modern society, but one genre stands as the persuasive and defiant voice of many – hip hop. The birthplace of hip hop is in New York, and it has its roots in Jamaican toasting and West African griots. Throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s, hip hop music was characterized by uplifting social commentary, braggadocios raps, nonchalant party records, and rhythmically empowering Afrocentric verses, all accompanied by sampled loops. The evolution of hip hop has been very punctuated, and at times it has deviated from its roots, albeit still retaining its codifications. Not only has hip hop enhanced society, but it is also responsible for degrading society by perpetuating ignorance, misogyny, and juvenile delinquency. It seems that the antithesis of intellectualism is dominating most hip hop oriented mediums, and herein lies the problem - the bad parts of hip hop are clearly overrepresented and overvalued.

Hip hop is more far reaching in its efforts, than to just simply degrade society and glorify delinquent behavior. A myriad of artists, such as Illogic, Saul Williams, Gift of Gab, Sage Francis, Eyedea, Busdriver and Pharaohe Monch incorporate consciously-driven themes into their songs with "lyrical acrobatics”, literary devices and verbal dexterity while showcasing a mastery of the English language. This is the epitome of modernized poetry, which unfortunately is submerged underneath a thick blanket of songs drenched in homophobia, obscene language, materialism, misogyny and violence. For example, let me compare these two verses:

Gucci Mane - Anytime You Ready

Well, it take money to make money
That's why I make money
Need some today so I'mma go take they money
Flip money, I weigh money
Hundred grand, that's play money
Counterfeit, that's fake money
Law city, that's Blake money
Cash money, that's Drake money
Broke niggas, they hate money
Rappers they get slave money
Gucci Mane, I say money
Gucci Mane, I say money
Kimberly in your face money
Brick squad we taste money
Gold diggers they chase money
Rich niggas we waste money!

Illogic - 1,000 Whispers

If a picture's worth a thousand words I'll paint a thousand pictures
To symbolize the decibel levels bred of a thousand whispers
To mummify useless unknown poems spit a shower with gold glitter
Pressure increase unleash the catacomb splitters
And for some reason you wonder why your puzzle is a jigsaw
When you fail to decipher the Morse code to simply avoid the pitfalls
If need be I can get raw - just pocket the latex
But that's like asking why the man with no legs crawls to see the apex
Or why the young planet's seeds won't blossom into a garden
Parallel to your search for stardom where you leave breadcrumbs and jargon
That you can't even feel. So how's that for surface tension?
Every step shows you're a worthless henchman itching to meet your maker
I'd rather finger-paint than take a tainted pen and curse the paper
Voice box turns cauldron, saliva boils, then thoughts are vapor

The differences in penmanship are blatantly obvious, two polarized verses that deliver diametrically opposed messages. Language is a powerful tool of communication and hip hop is saturated with euphemisms, African American vernacular, colloquialisms, slang and literary devices.

In another example, the New York rapper Cam'ron says, “Sometime y’all get crimey crimey, grimy grimy/But those with a tiny hiney they get whiny whiny,” in the song 5 Boroughs. To some this verse may seem outrageously stupid, devoid of anything intellectually stimulating (including the entire song), but does it have to be? Is it safe to assume that regular club goers do not want an artist like Aesop Rock or MF DOOM to be played, but rather recite ad-libs like, “Yahhh, trick, Yahhh!” (Soulja Boy coined this phrase). Is music that is preposterously nonsensical appropriate for certain milieus, or is this type of music sending a bad message to prepubescent teens and adolescents? "Retards Attempting Poetry" is a witty remark that people like to use and it might apply to the aforementioned rap lyrics, but using it as an umbrella term to describe hip hop in its entirety is inaccurate. Most consciously-driven rap music is underrepresented and undervalued in today’s society.

It has even gotten to the point where hip hop has been split into two categories: “fake” and “real”. "Fake hip hop" is rap primarily concerned with talking about how much money you have, what type of car you drive, how many females you had intercourse with last night and other trivial occurrences. "Real hip hop" encapsulates the true essence of hip hop culture, untarnished by impurities such as rapacious record labels and vapid, materialistic subject matter. This is a false dichotomy, and the people who adhere to it are mostly fans who vehemently oppose mainstream rap music. They contend that real hip hop is embodied by underground/alternative or independent artists who are not contributing to the wholesale destruction of a culture.

Also, the internet has been a breeding ground for producing a plethora of pastiches and carbon copies of extant rappers, with no hint of creativity or originality. Becoming a rapper, albeit not necessarily famous, is relatively easy now in this day and age due to technology. One can simply upload a video onto YouTube, wisely advertise their song via word of mouth, and voilà, in no time their views will skyrocket. This constant influx of internet rappers is inundating hip hop with more rappers than it needs. Not only has technology inhibited hip hop to an extent, the commercialization of hip hop music has put revenue and sales ahead of the advancement of this genre - catering to the consumer is the industry’s raison d’être.

This genre has been transformed into, what Michael Eric Dyson refers to as a commodity fetish! The primary function of rap is to sell music, but its secondary function is also remarkably effective at selling other products. For instance, in many rap videos, brand name alcoholic beverages, the most expensive automobiles, the latest outfits and other hot commodities are conspicuously shown in order to attract attention to what is popular. If a rapper is adorned in the latest outfits and other miscellaneous items, the viewer may start to confuse his/her wants with his/her needs. Popular figureheads such as Lil’ Wayne, Jay-Z, Eminem, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Gucci Mane have gained notoriety through BET, MTV, VH1, the radio and other mass media outlets. These aforementioned figureheads are marketable enough to promote superficiality, materialism and all things negative.

The transition from songs about the hardships in poverty-stricken areas (while not glorifying this stigma) to lyrics embellished with the lavish lifestyles of multi-millionaires directly shows the presence of ulterior motives. In turn, this reinforces stereotypes about minorities and bastardizes a subculture, while successfully misleading the impressionable and malleable minds of the youth. This blatantly obvious corruption, although not solely responsible, can cause juvenile behavior which might possibly lead to incarceration or dysfunctional lives.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:00 PM

In conclusion...

It is unfortunate that hip hop has become one of the most abused genres of music. At once its purpose was to elucidate the socio-economic position and trials and tribulations many African Americans had to face, but in the past decade it has shifted to glorifying narcissistic behavior and an overindulgence in drugs, money, women and all things materialistic. This in turn wrongly influences one’s perspective through sensationalism and commercialism, thus having a detrimental effect on certain listeners.

So how can this problem child in the music industry be tamed? You have to fix the environment in which most of these things are happening in order to change a genre of music. If a culture promotes violence, drugs and narcissism, then that will become the norm and promulgate itself through forms of representation - such as rap music. This is a perfect niche for hip hop music to change its ethos and reflect the everyday circumstances in the dysfunctional and dilapidated cities of America...

“The United States has consistently had the highest level of interpersonal violence of all industrialized nations and that violence is disproportionately concentrated in poor urban communities.” (Excerpt taken from Righteous Dopefiend by Philippe Bourgois & Jeffrey Schonberg)

The reluctance of social reforms to provide adequate and necessary provisions in order to solve many of the problems in inner cities and poverty-stricken areas is just as important. Rappers are a product of their environment, so their content is a reflection of their experiences (some more exaggerated than others) so who or what should be held accountable?

I hope this post successfully removes any uninformed opinions about hip hop music and in doing so ends this common misconception about a misunderstood genre on ATS. The following videos should shed some light on the more sophisticated, yet overlooked acts:

It is not mandatory to find this genre an enjoyable listening experience, all I ask of you is to at least respect it as an art form.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:16 PM
Reptillian Assisted Propoganda

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:24 PM
I was driving the other day and some rap music was so loud it overpowered my alternative-electro(ish) indie track, which I enjoy during drives. At first I thought it had to be a lowered, 10 year old car with a speaker system worth 5x its value, until a mini-van pulled up next to me. Contrary to my first assumptions, the music wasn't coming from inside the vehicle, but outside via loudspeakers.

It was rap with a christian theme, rapping about finding Jesus and changing the way you lived.

I'm not a fan of religion, and not a die hard fan of rap and hip hop (although I listen to it on occasion). I was a little miffed though, because the beat wasn't bad and the artists clearly had talent. So during my short stop at the red light, I turned off the latest iTunes fed track my stereo was playing and just enjoyed a little Jesus rap.

I doubt it will ever see the "cool" factor, but it's not to say something in between can't.


Two days after this I went to see RZA's version of a Chinese Hollywood influenced Spaghetti Western, (A genre that only Taratino knows how to make (because he basically invented it)... And here we are with hip hop culture being injected into an East Asian/1970's Clint Eastwood staple, where different cultures can reflect on it in different ways.

I bet the movie will get terrible reviews. But what I saw was a few cultures being slammed together in a mash of "what the hell is going on?" and to be honest... I liked it.

I hope I keep seeing more Jesus rap and American-Asian-Hip Hop(esque) films. And throw some more cultures together while you are at it, invent some new ones that aren't so stereotypical...

That's the first step in making changes..
edit on 5-11-2012 by boncho because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:33 PM
Great post. You exlained this really well.
When I read the headline my answer was 'both'. Glad to see you touched on both sides.
It does seem to me to be either really bad and off-putting or seriously profound, enlightening and inspiring. Not much middle ground.
Also, it has been argued that the shift was no accident or natural progression; that it was a deliberate attempt, which seems to have worked, to change the message from one of empowerment, knowledge, insight, strength, working together to change the status quo, etc to materialism, greed, selfishness and violence.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:39 PM
You make a really good point here and I think it can be applied to most genres.

You gotta dig deep to find the real good stuff. This is were the best musicians, most rythmically original, and best lyrisct are found. Usually found far from radio play. (discovering this turned me into a metal head)

Hip hop can be blatantly genius, it's just not usually the stuff you hear on your local rap station. I know a few but Aesop rock is a pretty intellectually stimulating hip hop group that comes to the top of my head.


posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:53 PM
rap has done so much harm to the american youth, its kinda sickening...the cultural shock of this movement has dumbed down more teens than we may ever there is some good in a real sense of the word rap/hiphop out there, but it still pushes the annoying gangster and or woe is me image...speaking of rap, anyone remember that "my president is black" song from 2008? that one seriously got me annoyed constantly when everyone was so happy (white or black) and they were singing aloud and cheering of the beginning to the end

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 06:56 PM
Modern pop music isn't much better. Here's a lyric from a song that's on the radio all the time:

Kesha - Die Young
"I feel your heart beat to the beat of the drum, oh what a shame that you came here with someone"

Then it goes into a catchy, bubble-gum pop song about doing drugs, breaking the law and acting slutty -- all whille sounding upbeat.

I hate these "women-empowering-let-be-sluts-happy-feeling-break-the-law" type songs.

Here's some more of that same Kesha song:

Young hunks, taking shots
Stripping down to dirty socks
Music up, gettin' hot
Kiss me, give me all you've got
It's pretty obvious that you've got a crush (you know)
That magic in your pants, it's making me blush (for sure)

Looking for some trouble tonight
Take my hand i'll show you the wild side
Like it's the last night of our lives
We'll keep dancing till we die

I don't have any kids -- but If I did they would not be allowed to listen to this before age 15 (and I'm pretty open minded and not religious at all!)

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 07:02 PM
I know it's not really what most people envision when they hear the word "rap music" but The Flobots are pretty awesome...

I like this one, and another track called "Same Thing" They are pretty political and make no bones about it. They also teamed up and did a song with the lead guy from Rise Against called, "White Flag Warrior".

Here's some of the lyrics to the song above:

We shall not be moved
Except By a child with no socks and shoes
Except by a woman dying from the loss of food
Except by a freedom fighter bleeding on a cross for you
We shall not be moved
Except by a system thats rotten through
Neglecting the victims and ordering the cops to shoot
High treason now we need to prosecute


Put your hands up high if you havn't imagined
Hope that the pen strokes stronger than the cannon
Balls to the wall, Nose to the grindstone
My interrogation techniques leave your mind blown
So Place your bets lets speak to the enemy
Don't let em pretend that we seek blood
And who's we anyways Kemo Sabe?
Mighty warlord wanna-be street thug
a threat for a threat leaves the whole world terrified
blow for blow never settles the score
word for word it's time we clarify
We the people did not want war

edit on 5-11-2012 by MystikMushroom because: added lyrics

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 07:19 PM
I got money
I make money
A lot of money
Mansions, rims, cars hoes and clothes
I got money im so throw
Money money money
bitches bitches
tits and ass
Smokng grass
Skipin class
Im so gangsta

I AM going be so big one day. Right now im on lil Wayne's level but in a week or two after i practice 10min a day I will be twice as good as lil wayne.

The masses do not understand music. They just want to fell like bad asses because they are told to up hold a image because they care to much about what people think about them. It SEEMS safer to buy into a fad that you know every one likes instead of just being you but really your just suppressing who you really are witch can cause a lot of confusion and stress.

I really admire your ability to write poster. I wish i was more articulate and had a larger vocabulary.
I am going to use your post's as a guide to improve my English skills.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 07:21 PM
reply to post by IEtherianSoul9

OP that was wonderfully written. I hope you author more threads.

It is unfortunate that hip hop has become one of the most abused genres of music. At once its purpose was to elucidate the socio-economic position and trials and tribulations many African Americans had to face, but in the past decade it has shifted to glorifying narcissistic behavior and an overindulgence in drugs, money, women and all things materialistic. This in turn wrongly influences one’s perspective through sensationalism and commercialism, thus having a detrimental effect on certain listeners.

So I have a chicken or egg question for you. Did rap turn itself into an abused genre or did society? Did a few rappers get rich and influence everything with their new message about getting money etc. after becoming mainstream, or did society dictate real artists had to change to be profitable? Both? I think both.

I enjoy rap and hip hop, even the teeny bopper nonsense that seems focused on fancy cars at times. I also enjoy what I consider real rap and hip hop. Things with a message. Some of it is actually amazingly good, melding poetry, feeling and music into one thing.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 07:22 PM
reply to post by MystikMushroom

Here's some of the lyrics to the song above:

Those were pretty much the lyrics. Awful song. Awful.

posted on Nov, 5 2012 @ 07:39 PM
There are those that have argued that the shift was entirely deliberate. KRS-One talks about this, and others as well, I can't think of who at the moment.
I'll try to find a vid with KRS talking about it.

edit to add:
Here's one, the other one I was thinking of: "Wise Intelligent: Connecting Hip Hop, culture and the struggle"

If I find the one by KRS I'll post it.
edit on 5-11-2012 by curiouscanadian777 because: add comment

Also, just wanted to add, I agree with the others who've said how well written this is. Really outstanding.
edit on 5-11-2012 by curiouscanadian777 because: add comment

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 01:29 AM

Originally posted by Domo1
reply to post by IEtherianSoul9

OP that was wonderfully written. I hope you author more threads.

It is unfortunate that hip hop has become one of the most abused genres of music. At once its purpose was to elucidate the socio-economic position and trials and tribulations many African Americans had to face, but in the past decade it has shifted to glorifying narcissistic behavior and an overindulgence in drugs, money, women and all things materialistic. This in turn wrongly influences one’s perspective through sensationalism and commercialism, thus having a detrimental effect on certain listeners.

So I have a chicken or egg question for you. Did rap turn itself into an abused genre or did society? Did a few rappers get rich and influence everything with their new message about getting money etc. after becoming mainstream, or did society dictate real artists had to change to be profitable? Both? I think both.

I'd say the record labels take most of the blame, most artists on major labels have very little control over their music. Take this discussion from Too Short for example. He is known for his over the top x-rated raps, but he says he wanted to do more socially conscious stuff and the labels shut it down. There is countless artists who says the same.

When I was young Hip Hop had incredible diversity. You could hear anything from political acts like Public Enemy, hippies like PM Dawn, fun loving Leaders of The New School, dance music from Mc Hammer or gangsters rap from groups like NWA. and that's just scratching the surface. Now there is almost no diversity on the radio, it all has the same generic sound, cause as hip hop became more mainstream labels gained more control. They had a template that they followed, and they refuse to take risks on anything outside of it. They realized controversy sells, and went all in on ignorance.

Since labels control what artists make, and they decided what the single is going to be, and they have the money to pay radio stations to play the songs, they are the most responsible. They are spending the money, so they decide.

The influence of the consumer is extremely overrated IMO. They will buy whatever is marketed to them. Soulja boy is universally accepted as a bad rapper, that didn't stop his stupid song from being a hit. It's the same psychology that made the inventor of pet rocks a millionaire. People can be made to believe they like/need something. It's especially easy when that's all they are exposed too.

I can't count how many people looked shocked when I showed them hip hop like this. They didn't know it existed, but when they heard it, it had a profound effect on them.

I know people who have been changed by the message in hip hop songs. I'm one of them, I fully credit hip hop with awakening my social consciousness. I may not agree with all the messages I heard, but it was hip hop that made thinking and reading cool to me, emcees got me into politics, emcees made me look up conspiracies & cover ups I never heard of. 90% of my friends belong to gangs, I could have easily fallen in line, but some of those rappers said things that stuck in my mind and challenged how I saw things. The same could be true for others if only they had the exposure to it, unfortunately they never get the chance.

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 06:35 AM
Word to your mother !

everyone should know that rap is the music , Hiphop is the lifestyle /culture

the 4 elements of hiphop

rap (MC) , turntablism (DJ) , Breakin (bboy) , Graffiti (writers )

and HipHop is strong even though Rap music has been abused the other 4 elements have also been touched by corporate media and the government and mainstream poisoning !

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 08:28 AM
The big record companies will not promote or produce hip hop artists that have positive messages. Wish I remembered the name of it, but there was a great documentary that aired on PBS several years ago that talked about the hip hop industry. The vast majority of profits from hip hop come from white middle class America.

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 08:44 AM
I used to listen to Rap and only Rap in my teens, never immersed myself in to the Hip Hop culture though, as a working class English white boy, I felt that I would have been a total fraud and loser if I did.

I think Rap has had some fantastic talent, I remember listening to Rap in the early 90's and it was great, really gritty and a great insight in to life in American ghettos. By the late 90's, I had got bored with it, the genre to me is very limited and does not have enough variation. I somewhat demanded more from my music. I now listen to primarily Heavy Metal, but also old Delta Blues, Jazz, Dance, Country, Classical, Celtic, Reggae, all kinds of folk music from around the world and occassionally Rap.

Having listened to so many forms of music over the last ten or so years, for me Rap is one of the weakest genres. I applaud the skills needed to proficiently rap, but its a genre that I just can't listen to for more than ten minutes. When I listen to music from around the world, I hear emotion, I hear talent, I hear musicianship, I hear music. Some of the most beautifully poetic lyrics are lyrics that many will never hear. I can't say the same for Rap. It's grit and exposure to life at ground level in some of the most impoverished areas of America comes across as boring to those that still rap of such issues. The ones that don't just sound like they couldn't string a coherent rhyme together if someone was aiming an Ak at their head.

I enjoyed Rap in my teens, but grew out of it, each to their own, it's just my taste and my opinion.

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 08:49 AM
I was ready to get defensive because of the first part of the title. I was going to point out that not ALL rap or hip-hop is about money, sex, power, fame, b*tches, etc. But you beat me to it. Good job.

I'd also like to add my band, Word of Mouth.
We're not completely rap or fact, I don't know what we are.
We've been called, 'hip-hoppin', funk droppin', space-rock,' before. I think that kind of gets as close to it as you can.

Our newest track, "This Here Now," is my our 3rd single, and leans mostly to the hip-hop side, but with our own unique twist of course. We don't have a video for it (yet) but you can check it out (and download it for free) at our website. >> WORD OF MOUTH

We've also got another hip-hop style track called, the 'WoM Remix.'
You can check it out here >>

And though this other track has no hip hop in it, I think you will appreciate the lyrics, footage, and message. It's called, 'Raise Your Voices.'

edit on 6-11-2012 by eleven44 because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 10:07 AM
from viewzone magazine...

There is an anonymous letter that is circulating on the web. It tells of a secret meeting in which "decision makers" of the music industry were asked to participate in a cultural shift that would result in increasing the population of America's prisons, for profit. It has such a ring of truth that other people in the entertainment business (and prison establishment) have come out supporting the validity of this claim.

this is now text from the letter...[have you seen this yet?]

At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments.

Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration.

posted on Nov, 6 2012 @ 11:05 AM
There's plent of great artists in Hip Hop
check these songs out and really listen to them

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