I come across this mind state all the time. This latest instance was at a small Christmas get together at a colleague’s house. Almost everyone there was a teacher. I was in one of those small conversations that start up at these things. There was a first year teacher, a high school principal, a veteran teacher with 18 years of experience, a high school teacher, and myself. The high school teacher made the comment that “rap music is an oxymoronic term.” He said, “Rap music isn’t music.”
I think this is an ignorant mind state and I can’t believe that people think this way. When I asked him why he doesn’t think that rap is music, he said because there isn’t any melody to it. We were then arguing about the definition of music.
I talked about the talent to write lyrics that rhyme and how rappers are quite clever in how they manage to do this. They rap in cadences, in the middle of lines, and in multiple syllables. I argued that the artists actually do have melody in the way that they deliver the lyrics. In hip-hop we call this flow.
I tried my best to change his mind but I don’t think I did. I didn’t get much support from the other teachers either. They shrugged their shoulders most of the time during our heated exchange. I was trying to have nice debate with him but he kept coming back to his narrow definition of music as something that had beat and melody. I argued that anything with beat is a song. You can’t have a song without beat and rhythm. I don’t think the limited definition of melody needs to be added to these two key ingredients. In fact, he admitted that drum troupes make music.
In the end, he did admit that rap is poetry and a form of art but he would not budge on his original statement. He said that he can appreciate it but to him, rap is not music because it has no melody.
I know he might not read this, but I want to continue this argument.
Rap is music because
- It is delivered and consumed in the same way as any other music genre
- A rapper does the exact same things any other songwriter does. He or she writes lyrics and decide how them fit together with music.
- I could take any song from any genre and rap it and I bet that I could make it sound good.
- The instrumental track or “the beat” can be very musical. Rap is not just about simple drum patterns and loops.
- Rap singers use inflection, dynamics, accents, many other musical devices.
- Music is anything that we listen to.
- It is acknowledged as a music from by Billboard
- Rap has the two components to any form of music, beat and rhythm
- Rapping is a talent that needs to be practiced and developed just like any other form of music performance
There are so many people who don’t understand rap music and hip-hop culture and won’t even try. To those people, I will always have something to say. Hip-hop is a valid form of music. It is poetic and beautiful. And it isn’t going anywhere. It has been around for close to thirty years now. It is time that it was accepted as a legitimate art form. I won’t stand for any less than that.
100 responses to “Rap Music Isn’t Music”
I’m a high school Music teacher and often have the same argument with my students – funnily enough it’s the teenagers who say rap isn’t Music (They’re white upper class kids at a private school)!
I always ask them whether if they took the vocal track out, so it was just the backing instrumental, whether they would be listening to music and or not. Usually it’s bass and drums with a few other bits so you can’t really deny it’s music!
They also say “But it hasn’t got a tune/melody!” To which I usually reply “OK. Next time you go to a scary movie see if you can pick out a tune in the MUSIC in the background. Also while poetry has rhythm, it lacks the fundamental pulse that deems most things Music (although there is of course heaps of contemporary Music without pulse too). An accompanied rapper is no different to a drummer playing a solo – you can just get more linguistic understanding from a rapper – both of them organise sound into varying divisions over a pulse/beat. And god forbid anyone who tells a drummer that they’re not a musician!
Excellent comment. Thanks for adding to the discussion.
The majority of your points are logical fallacies.
1) It is recorded onto a CD and where people listen to through music players, or it is presented on a live stage. So then audio books and spoken word poetry is music too.
2) Lyrics have nothing to do with music. Having lyrics doesn’t make Edgar Allen Poe a musician.
3) I would accept that bet with say, Paganini’s 24th caprice, but I would not be able to live with myself after. If you managed to pull it off, it would be in spite of your rapping, not because of it. Taking something that’s already music and talking over it doesn’t make you a musician.
4) You are correct here. Although whether some producers are musicians or not is another issue. Merely sampling another artist’s work does not make one a musician. Furthermore, we have to make a distinction between rap as the entire song, or rap as the actual rapping component.
5) So do politicans delivering speeches and actors delivering lines.
6) So if a doctor listens to your insides to detect irregularities, that makes you Mozart.
7) I didn’t realize Billboard governed our minds.
8) First of all, “beat” is rhythm. In musical terms, beat simply refers to the length and division of notes, NOT a drum loop going off, that’s rhythm. Yes a drummer is a musician, but the drums are usually only one facet of a musical work. Pyschoacoustically, music relies mostly on changes in pitch through melody and harmony to evoke emotions. Rap relies mostly on lyrical content to evoke emotion, and while poetry is an art form in itself, it is not a musical element. Thus while rap may still be music due to the presence of rhythm, it is hard to justify it beyond anything more than primitive. If you took a rap song, and removed the lyrics, it would be far less interesting to listen to than if you took the vocals out of say an Elton John song and replaced it with a trumpet or violin.
9) Acting is a talent, juggling is a talent, being a con artist is also a talent.
So while I’ll agree with you that rap music is music, the majority of your arguments are not legitimate reasons as to why it’s music. All you had to say is that it has an organized rhythm, but then so do windshield wipers.
Anonymous, I appreciate your comments, but quite frankly your logic is also flawed.
1) I would argue that audio books, spoken word poetry, and theatre are all artistic pieces of work. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would call them music. My first point really dealt with the way music is consumed and used. I listen to albums. I buy albums at record stores. I put them on my MP3 player. I listen to them loud. I sing along. You probably do the same things with whatever genre you listen to.
2) Yeah music doesn’t need to have lyrics, but that doesn’t change the argument. Most popular music has lyrics these days.
3) You must really hate things you don’t understand. I admit that there are genres of music that I am not really in favour of. I don’t feel that I need to trash them however. Art is art and should be respected. Rap is terribly misunderstood by people just like you. I think if you took a second to listen to my argument, that you might actually start to get it.
4) One point we agree on. Alright!
5) Once again, just because it is done elsewhere doesn’t mean that it is not an element of music.
6) I’ll give you that one. Number 6 was weak on my point.
7) Now you are just being ridiculous. If this genre of music is recognized by official organizations such as Billboard, Rolling Stone, The Grammies, and The Academy Awards, I don’t know how you can argue that it is not music. Rap songs have won Oscars for crying out loud. If the Academy of Arts and Sciences see rap as music and so do all these other influential organizations, what do you know that they don’t?
8) I can play several different instruments. I am a musician. I teach music in my school to a number of classes. Maybe before you start spewing some garbage you should go get some musical training. Beat is present in every song. It is the timing and speed of the notes. Most rap songs are in what is known as 4/4 time. Look it up. Rhythm is what you do to make the song fit the beat.
9) I like how you admit that rapping takes talent. I agree with you that so do a lot of other things but you keep coming back to this in your argument. I keep saying that it doesn’t matter. I would like you to try and define what a telephone is, I could use your same style of argument to beat down most of your points too.
Anonymous, you didn’t say one thing of relevance in your argument. You trash rap music throughout your entire comment, and then at the end you admit that it is music. I don’t believe you. I think that this is something you cannot and will not ever understand. That is fine with me.
If you want to learn more about the birth and development of hip-hop culture, stayed tuned to my blog because I have been working on a history of hip-hop that I will be posting up over the next week or so. If not, I don’t care.
Thanks for the visit!
yo great read, i was having this same convo with a friend the other day. I gotta send it to him. Keep doing what youre doing.
Thanks for the big-ups. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I will always champion hip-hop and the culture.
Please read on.
It’s interesting that your reply to the first “anonymous” rebuttal (points 1-9) weren’t based on any kind of logic, as his were. Instead, you made a number of ad hominem attacks on the person who brought them.
For example, in your Point #3 you said, “You must really hate things you don’t understand.” Regardless of his point, he was offering a different opinion, and gave an example. You simply attacked him personally, and equated his non-agreement with you as “hate”.
Then, in #7 you attacked him personally again and accused him of being “ridiculous”. And you suggested that he was ignorant, and essentially not entitled to his opinion because he didn’t “know what ‘they’ (awards-organization) know”. Yet, you didn’t offer any legitimate reply to his sarcasm.
Also interesting was your summary of him having “trashed” hip-hop. Actually, he did nothing of the sort. Rather, he presented a number of lucid arguments as to why he didn’t think rap is “music”, in his definition. at no time did he disrespect you, attack you personally, or say that you weren’t entitled to your opinion.
And finally, neither of you mentioned the classical (and I don’t mean the music genre) definition of music, which requires rhythm, melody, and HARMONY. Hip-hop certainly has rhythm, and sometimes melody across a few half-steps. But I can’t recall hearing with any regularity a piece where harmony was intentional. When I have heard it I have always detected that it was accidental, owing to the difference in pitch of two artists’ spoken voices.
By all means, please continue to promote rap and hip-hop, as will I. I am a web developer for artists in that business and they are making me a ton of money.
I’m tired of having to apologize and explain to everyone what hip hop is all about. Perhaps I was a little too hard on anonymous. You’re right, I shouldn’t have attacked his character.
Still though, rap music is recognized as music from a variety of well-respected publications and ceremonies. I pointed these out to show that I’m not the only one recognizing this music as music. That’s a logical argument.
Now for your points.
I think the “classic” definition of music is, once again, someone’s opinion. I don’t like how you’ve highlighted one specific definition.
I’m looking at The New World Dictionary right now and they have 7 different definitions for it.
The first definition sounds like the so-called classical one you mentioned. Yet, I would argue that some rappers do use harmony (Nice and Smooth, Bone Thugs and Harmony, and the late-great The Notorious B.I.G. to name a few)
Even if we only took this “classical” definition as the be all and end all, rap could still qualify as music.
But according to the other six definitions, rap music fits.
Rap is music. I will yell this up and down until I am blue in the face. And I don’t do this because it makes me money.
People pimp this culture like crazy. That’s one of the reasons I am always apologizing for it. There are people that just use and abuse this great music and culture. I won’t stand for it. I won’t support it either.
Thanks for your comment.
I find the name of this entire article a little humorous, given its content. “Rap ‘music’ isn’t music”. It’s like saying, “Here’s this offering from what someone’s trying to pull off as their version of real music, please accept it as the real thing”. And I believe that rap is music, but I don’t think it’s worth much on those terms.
Hi Anonymous of Dec 6,
I don’t understand why people are so intent on narrowly defining what is and isn’t music.
The title of this article comes from the exact wording a colleague used in the friendly debate we had at a party.
I don’t think I can actually change anyone’s opinion who doesn’t believe that rap is a valid music form. But I think we can all agree on the definition of art. Rap is an art.
I’m not trying to pull anything off here. I’m stating my opinion and defending my culture.
I am a musician and can play several instruments. I can rap too. I don’t differentiate between my creative musical endeavors because of a dictionary definition of what is and isn’t music. It’s as simple as that.
“Pyschoacoustically, music relies mostly on changes in pitch through melody and harmony to evoke emotions. Rap relies mostly on lyrical content to evoke emotion, and while poetry is an art form in itself, it is not a musical element.”
YES… I’ve never seen it as well-spoken as that. Thank You.
I appreciate this on-going discussion.
It is interesting to point out that music evokes emotion. There have been a quite a few emotional responses here too. I think that is really saying something.
Ok, anything you listen to is sound. Like I’m typing on my keyboard, does that make it music? Not one single bit. I would like to think when I talk, all I need to do is have the same repetitive “music” background playing and I can make millions just like rappers.
The thing is, I’m not shallow minded or anything like that. But I want to see one rapper who actually wrote their own background “music” and tell me what key signature it is in. I can say rap is music…but its just not deep and emotional.
It’s sad that the top of the Billboard Hot 100 have been dominated by rap/hip-hop since maybe 1991. (Off the top of my mind only Creed, Nickelback, and Santana have been number one in the years since.) I just don’t find it compelling as much as compositions from Slayer, Trivium, Amon Amarth, or especially Dream Theater. (Check them out!) The thing that sets those guys apart from rap/hip-hop is that, they actually write their own stuff, and one MAJOR thing. SOLOS, guitar, drum, bass, whatever.
The thing that pisses me off, is when people say that metal isn’t music, when there is “screaming” involved. Metal has revolutionized the guitar.
Hi Anonymous of Jan 2,
I would argue that knowing musical theory isn’t really important.
There are some musicians that play by ear. They wouldn’t be able to tell you what chords they are playing or what key signature their piece is in, but that wouldn’t mean than they weren’t producing music.
There are quite a few rapper who do produce their own music as well.
Metal wouldn’t be considered music according to some of the definitions that have been tossed around here. However, I would never claim that it wasn’t music. I might not be a fan of it, but I can appreciate it.
Chase, you make the statement that “Still though, rap music is recognized as music from a variety of well-respected publications and ceremonies. I pointed these out to show that I’m not the only one recognizing this music as music. That’s a logical argument.”
Technically speaking, it’s not. It’s an appeal to numbers/authority, and it’s one of the most basic logical fallacies. The number of people that believe something has nothing to do with that belief’s validity. At one point, a very large number of people thought the world was flat. But I digress.
When most people say “rap isn’t music,” they’re probably referring to most mainstream rap and hip-hop, and I’d be inclined to meet them halfway – I’ll simply say that it is bad music. Most of the aforementioned genre consists of extremely simplistic and repetitive rhythms, minimalistic loops, and meaningless, asinine lyrics. Most responses I’ve received to these critiques are along the lines of “It’s just club music, it’s not meant to be taken seriously.” I’ve also seen people define pieces with these characteristics as “crunk” or “snap” music, separating the likes of Lil’ Jon and Soulja Boy from what they consider to be legitimate artists. I think sampling plays a large part in this view as well; if a sampled loop provides the backdrop, there is the perception that the producer is lazy and is not doing much in terms of composition. If simple, shallow lyrics overlay a sampled and repetitive backdrop, where is the creative value?
I imagine, when you are defending this genre, you are referring to less mainstream groups/artists. I agree that there are many talented rappers who genuinely produce music. However, many people are only exposed to what they hear on the radio, and most of that, in my opinion, is not very good.
Mainstream music in general has been degraded to the point that “musicians” will actually associate a song with a product while it’s still on the radio (I’m looking at you, Chris Brown).
Hi Anonymous of January 31,
I love the fact that this post has such strong wings.
Thanks for weighing in on this issue. You make some valid points here.
I agree that common consensus is not a strong argument.
For example, some people will swear that a hill is a mountain when it doesn’t really meet the criteria for a mountain. However, there is no universally accepted definition of what exactly constitutes a mountain.
Perhaps music is like this. People have their opinions and perceptions and they all differ. But I think we can all recognize that a mountain could be a hill and a song can be music. They might not be mutually exclusive terms but they need not be separate.
As for your opening point, rap music is part of the music business. It is one of the most successful genres in the business as well. These two facts can’t be ignored.
I don’t have the time or patience for radio these days either. There is a degradation to the art of music in may genres. This isn’t exclusive to rap. I’m very critical of what I listen to.
I will defend this art because when it is done well, it is amazing, and it is most definitely music.
Although it is mistakinly refered to as music rap is not music, music needs to consist of pitch, rythm, dynamics and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture which rap doesn’t have so you can continue to think it is when it really isn’t and also it was created in 1988 so it’s been 21 years not almost 30 and if it is music it’s not real music
Hi Anonymous of Feb 10,
Please read my History of Hip-Hop post.
Rap music was not created in 1988. I have no idea where you got that date from. Most hip-hop historians peg the date as 1973. Although, some peg it as early as the late 1960’s.
I think you need to do some more research. A well thought out argument is based on facts not opinion.
For once, I would like to hear a non-mainstream rap song in compound time or alternating time signatures. Like…progressive style. not sure if that even exists though. It would be a nice deviation from the modern cliches of rap music.
If you search for that I am sure you will find one. There are several independent artists who push the boundaries of convention.
Plus, most modern popular music is in standard time. As listeners we’ve become accustomed to this and typically tend to consume music that sounds familiar to us and fits convention.
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with using standard time in the arrangement of the piece.
Emcees can flow in different rhythms and place their rhymes in varying times according to standard time beats anyway.
I agree with Chase.Rap is awesome!!!!!!!
Rap isn’t technically music (the whole melody thing), but with the beat and consideration it can be consdired music.
Although I don’t think a rapper should be considered a musician (a rapper/artist okay).
Hey Chase, nice to see someone posted this blog! I have to go against you on this "debate" (for the lack of a better word). Ever since I heard the first rap song, I've strongly disliked the genre. I understand that it can be described as a form of art, but I think calling rap "art" or "music" is a bit much. The following list corresponds to the list that you made in your blog (either for or against each statement). Well, here goes nothing…
1.) I agree with your statement, no doubt about it.
2.) Yes, this is very true. Without the words being rapped, I guess they could be considered lyrics.
3.) I'm not so sure about this statement. I think it would be very hard to find a song in any other genre and make it sound good through rapping. (Sorry most of this "bullet point" is editorial).
4.) Your first sentence is true, however music needs more than beat and rhythm. Most of the back tracks such as drums and bass (especially nowadays), are produced with computers. I don't think it takes much talent to produce rhythms and beats through a computer (unless the software wasn't "user-friendly").
5.) As far as I've heard, rapping is mostly talking with a bit of a "forceful grunt". Volume is considered a dynamic, but yelling and whispering don't take much talent to develop.
6.) Music is "not" everything that we listen to. If I heard you talking without any beat, rhythm, or melody, could you consider that music?
7.) I have one quick question, does Billboard have any association with the Music Industry? If so, the Music Industry markets products that they know will sell (even if it is mindless entertainment). This doesn't necessarily mean that the product that they are selling is music.
8.) Yes, this is true.
9.) Funny that you mention that. I have a friend who is not musically inclined whatsoever and he wrote a good (God forbid) rap "song" in under 5 minutes.
I really have tried listening to countless rap songs, and I have to tell you that I can't find any point to it or any talent being put forth for that matter. I could probably write more for each category, but right now my brain is fried from all this typing. I would love to continue this debate sometime. My email is email@example.com.
Hi Anonymous of June 10th,
Thanks for adding to the debate and discussion.
Here are some of my thoughts on a few of your points.
3) I have rapped regular pop or rock songs before and they sound nice. Rap is really just another way to deliver lyrics. Simple as that.
4) It does take talent to produce a record no matter what method you use. Almost all producers use computers these days as well. And it's not as easy as you may think. Producers don't normally uses any form of tape these days whether it be reel to reel or DAT.
5) A lot of popular artists use rap conventions in their songs as well. The influence is unmistakable in a lot of today's popular music. I can cite lots of examples from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Avril Lavigne to countless others.
6) I simply meant that anything we choose to listen for entertainment could be considered music. But granted, it was a weak argument on my part.
7) Billboard tracks numbers of records sold for the different genres of music. I might not like all the genres but I am not about to argue that they aren't music. Billboard tracks music and follows what sells, but it does track "music."
9) Good for him. Although, writing a song is only one step of the process. It needs to be produced, practised, and performed well to be a good song.
I don't think time spent creating art has anything to do with the value of said art. Art in any form can be beautiful and inspiring no matter how long it took to create.
As for your final commentary. I think good music is often hidden just like good art. Sure there are paintings and picture everywhere but the masterpieces are harder to find. You might need to go to fancy art galleries in different parts of the world to find them.
The same is true with good music. You can't just listen to the radio or what Much Music or MTV plays to get it. You have to dig and explore and then maybe you can uncover some gems.
The point isn't whether rap is music. If you find a way to define music that excludes rap, you'll end up excluding something else you didn't mean to. It's a demarcation problem.
But it's like arguing over whether uncooked pasta is food. Yes, it meets the definition. It's just worthless and unpleasant. It's like juggling chain saws. Who cares how much talent it takes? I still don't want to listen to a recording of it. The "lyrics" are garbage, aimed at people who are impressed by a trashy criminal lifestyle. Musically it is comparable to filthy nursery rhymes for adults.
Of course, I can't see the value of rap, it's because of my limitations. That's what they said about the emperor's new clothes.
Your argument is really solid up until you start talking about "lyrics." You go overboard and lose all your credibility when you assume all rap is ganster rap. There are just as many variations of rap as there are different styles of playing guitar. There are a lot of positive rap songs, Christian rap songs, and songs that having nothing to do with the lowest common denominator.
I truly believe that one man's trash is another man's treasure. I can respect that you don't "value" rap music but that doesn't mean that the form has no value.
At first I was going to explain why I would not consider rap "music." Then I noticed the second anonymous reply covered the main rebuttals to your list which came to mind. Last I realized it's really all moot if we don't acknowledge why we're discussing this in the first place. I think you reveal your motive best at the end when you stated :
"It is time that it was accepted as a legitimate art form."
So your problem seems to be you don't perceive rap to be sufficiently respected unless people recognize it as "music." So all I wonder is, why is that necessary?
Is it not enough for rap to just be rap?
Hi Anonymous of August 4th,
The problem here is that hip-hop is a culture. And I want people to respect my culture. I want them to see passed the rap music that they hear on the radio and immediately dismiss as trash.
There is a rich history of hip-hop that not a lot of people are aware of. I don't think too many people outside of the culture ever stop to consider why rap music isn't a fad and why it is still here nearly forty years later.
Rap is music. Simple as that.
I guess I can feel comfortable in saying it and believing it.
I don't really need to worry what anyone else thinks. But I like to educate people. I am a teacher and I like to share my passion with my students. I like to share my thoughts with my readers. And I like to have a healthy debate on a variety of issues and topics.
Thanks for weighing in on this one. You can't argue that this hasn't been a healthy debate. I appreciate every comment I have received.
Oh my existentialist self! His narrow definition of music (ie: Melody)? It is people like you, who are complete hypocrites that just pisses me off. You talk about extending definitions and then again define something. For example, if you extend a definition then where do you stop? Anything with beat and rhythm is music? Anything with four legs is a chair (And no I am not using a straw man, a logical fallacy, just asking questions)? Where do you get these ideas? I am not going to go into detailed discussion or at least try not to as there are other people on this blog who tried to elaborate on how "your narrow" definiton of music that "allows to leave melody" out from "music" while you label other peoples "correct" understanding of music as a "narrow" definition. Get this, all across the cultures, even on the other side of the world where I am from, in the East, people refer to something as music when it has "melody" or "melody and beat" in it and yes again, it is not true about the East only, "all across the cultures". What is your qualification? Do you have a degree of some sort? Do you understand the tonal system? Do you know what melody is?
In totality, you can call anything music as it is your world as you see it. But according to what people through all ages have recognized, definitions are definitions, and just that. What is water is water. Cola is not water. Now, see what you are doing? You are trying to "show" or "prove" that something is music. And music is not a vague term. People have pretty good idea about it and it (music) has been with us for millions of years and yes, it is not a typo, for millions of years. The term music is as clear in people's mind as water is and if you have to post an article of some sort out to defend that Rap is music then at least think about why you had to do it to begin with. Is it really that people are ignorant or are you missing something?
Finally, GET A GLIMPSE OF "MUSIC THEORY" AND READ ABOUT BASIC ELEMENTS OF MUSIC IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO. IF YOU HAVE, READ IT AGAIN AS IF IT WERE THE CASE I WILL HAVE TO DOUBT YOUR ENGLISH READING SKILLS. See, I haven't even pointed you towards any particular book as all of them will have the "same" concepts as the "basic" elements of music. Why? Because, the concept of music is very established. People like you who think "anything" with "rhythm and beat" is music ought to be pointed out mainly because you have some authority over the concept of music while shaping young kids' minds about music and it is very vulgar to have someone as close minded as you to be teaching our children what music is.
Again, leave "melody" out of music and it is still music? And you are an elementary school teacher. What have this world come to?
Hi Sept 6 Anonymous,
Thanks for your comment.
I'm not sure why you are so angry. Why are you invested in this so much that you need to date your thinking by millions of years? I think it is time you grew and matured with the times.
I am not a hypocrite for making an argument. Philosophers and scientists have proven things time and time again. And they have stepped on each other's toes, had disagreements, and certain beliefs have triumphed.
I would like to point out that just because something is established, as you say, does not make it an inarguable fact. I have countless examples I could cite here but I'll let you find them.
True, my argument here has not been exactly solid on all levels. That is why I have really enjoyed the discussion that has sprung forth here in the comments.
But in the future, if you have an argument or a comment to make on someone's blog you don't have to call into question their chosen profession. If you had spent anytime on this blog at all, you would see my dedication to my job and the commitment I have to the children in my school on a daily basis.
Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.
I think rap isnt music but not because it doesnt have any melody or anything, becuase the lyrics are really degrading, well nowadays old school rap was really a form of poetry because it wasn't some mindless dumbass, singing about money, girls, being a gangster, or any of that crap usually it was some intelligent black male singing about stuff that was important, like government, real instances of racism, hoping for better days and that kind of stuff.
Thanks for commenting and not remaining anonymous, that is really great to see.
I agree that some rap is degrading but there are plenty of artists out there who make positive music with great lyrics and messages. Old school mentality is still alive in some camps, you just have to dig a little deeper for it these days.
but in general most artist are going mainstream, and i'm sorry for calling the artist mindless dumbasses, its just that the fact that they do that, become mainstream makes them kind of stupid. i personally like rock and metal
and its not that you have to dig deeper, you have to take the genre and beat it up like a bully does for lunch money, when someone looks up rap, on google your probably gonna get some mainstream crap, that has no point, or is some guy wallowing over some girl like very other artist, old school is dying out man and its because of the people who listen to the same genre. and also i find that they consider todays rap a culture insanely stupid, its insulting, degrading, and in general gives black people a bad name, most black people i know are productive, i bet that half the people who don't know them and see them listening to some rap on some loud speakers probably think there just some good for nothing cop bait. and it affects the minds of people, no matter how much you try what you listen to effects you, and if raps effects some young kid who's looking for the way what do you think happens, 11,000 murders a year thats what happens america has on average 11k murders a year the highest rate in the world, and unfourtanetly it's commited more oftenly by african americans, now im not racist but statistically its true so dont start it, and i deleted the earlier post because i had to edit put a portion that i forgot to write something if you would like i can post that unedited comment as well?
Mindless, mainstream crap comes in all musical genres and is not limited to rap. Rap music is also not solely performed or created by black people. That is a common misconception. I think music is music and has nothing to do with race.
Thanks for editing your comment. I appreciate that.
Yes your right but mainstream has become rap, theres barely anything not mainstream left, theres mainstream in rock, metal, country, but the listeners know that that crap is fake and sung by posers. no mainstream crap has become the face of rap. and mostly its performed by african americans, and mostly people create stereotypes over it. and it mostly effects african americans, because they mostly listen to it, and becuase of how white people and the governemnt screwed them over, there stuck in a bad and vulnerable position.
I realize that the mainstream has gotten a hold of rap because they know that it can sell. Of course, that doesn't hold any weight in this argument.
People can use music in any way that they choose to. If they want to use it to sell products, then they will. If they want to use it to sell advertising on radio, then so be it. Some of the best music out there never receives any radio play and that is the same for a variety of genres as well.
Yeah i guess, but i still say that rap isnt worth listening to
@Chase…I completely understand where you are coming from. Here is a list of the reasons of why I think people usually don't agree with you on this topic.
1) Ignorance – most people are completely oblivious to the roots of rap (like the blues, slave shouts, jazz, the oftentimes melodic sermons of "black" churches since slavery days, etc.) and, therefore, do not understand its inspiration, mode of communication, or potential. Furthermore, most people against rap are "white", but completely fail to realize that the pop chart dominance of hip-hop/rap is because of "white" consumers. As I'm sure you know already, Chase, is that hip-hop/rap has been commercialized for white audiences since the early 90's – another outcome crafted by "white" record company businessmen. Due to its huge monetary potential, rap/hip-hop has been molded into the new pop.
2) Racism – I'm sure tons of people will claim I'm pulling the race card, but this does play a significant role. People trashing hip-hop/rap usually use words and phrases like "primitive", "savage congo beats", "mindless sampling", and "animalistic". What is usually left unsaid, but is inferred, is that since black people are the creators and main innovators of the genre, this is all they are capable of producing.
3) Culture-centric – This ties into my previous point. All the artistic creations of cultures around the world are held up against Western culture, where Western culture is considered the standard. If a artistic endeavor deviates from or clashes with Western culture it is considered primitive and archaic.
I'm sure there are other reasons for dislike of the genre, but I think that these are the main ones driving the whole "rap isn't music" bandwagon.
Hi Passin' Through,
Thanks for enlightening us about the reasons why people don't seem to be agreeing with me. You raise some very valid points. I think those points alone could help me write a follow up piece to this post.
I'm sorry. When I have to define why I don't like (most) rap, I basically have to come down to "I prefer music."
I absolutely agree that rapping is a skill, and sometimes when I hear the rhymes people compose, it is absolutely elating. So clever and so aware of the natural rhythms of language. I most certainly could not do it, and respect those who can do it well.
But that doesn't make it music.
In fact, the times I do like rap, it's rap with music. Rage Against the Machine is rap as the vocal component over a skilled band. The album that Jay-Z and Linkin Park put together is another example of successfully blending rap and music. And even Neil of the Pet Shop Boys sometimes (for lack of a better word) raps over their music. Within a musical context, I actually really enjoy rap.
However, normally rap really is what it has often been denigrated as: Someone talking over a drum machine. And I'm sorry, but that doesn't qualify as music. Performance? Yes. Art? Absolutely. But music? No.
I used to be in a "reader's theatre" troupe. This is a type of theatre that is essentially vocal performance of literature. It's a lot harder than just reading a book aloud, and requires just as much skill and practice as any other kind of vocal performance. But it isn't music. And even if we had a drum machine and a 2-bar loop of a disco track from the 70s playing while we talked, it still wouldn't be music.
In fact, behind me right now is my drum machine. I love playing with it. I love writing beats. I love writing basslines. I even love looping them. But I have a hard time considering what I'm doing as music until I pick up my guitar and play something that has some sort of overall structure over the top of it and/or sing. In my many years of music study, it was that skill that I was honing. Not talking.
Finally, I'd like to respond to the racebait placed before me. Nope. I have a stack of CDs from R&B and jazz and blues greats. Almost none of those people are/were white, and they gave birth to almost all forms of popular music today. Even in the bad old days of segregation and minstrelsy, music was one of the only cultural activities that racist white people respected black people for. If you wanted to make actual money as a black person in those days, dressing up the music your community played at home and doing it on stage (bafflingly, in blackface) was about your only option. The racial stereotype of blacks is that they are good at music, not bad, and that should lend some more weight to criticisms of rap that it is not music.
I'm sorry, Chase, but you're wrong. And that's even without addressing your 9 points at the outset, none of which make a logical case for rap to be music.
Why is it so hard to admit to rap being music?
I appreciate your comment and your point of view but I can't understand how you can separate lyrics from the music. Can someone who sings without music be considered to be making music?
I think the answer is yes.
Drums can be music unto themselves as well. There are drum troupes that make amazing music.
So I believe that drums alone can be music, voice alone can also be music, and rap most definitely is music. Forget all my nine points above perhaps I just need a simpler argument and this is it.
@Anonymous September 26, 2009 2:01 AM – Just passing through again and thought I would respond to some of your post on a point by point basis.
First you say: "I absolutely agree that rapping is a skill, and sometimes when I hear the rhymes people compose, it is absolutely elating. So clever and so aware of the natural rhythms of language. I most certainly could not do it, and respect those who can do it well."
This is your first "mistake". Rapping does not just exploit the natural RHYTHMS of language but also the natural MELODY of language as well. People do not talk in monotone to each other. They get excited or angry or hesitant and all these things affect our pitch and tone. And since people have been listing melody as a requirement for rap to be considered music now they can see that rap does indeed incorporate melody, IMPLICITLY. Similarly to how "classical music" such as Mozart implicitly uses rhythms. He didn't have an audible drum section in his music but the 4/4, 4/3, etc. timing he chose to use was implicit in his various compositions. What I just wrote also pertains to your example of Rage Against the Machine (great group, btw). The only difference between RATM and "regular" rappers is that RATM uses other instruments to EXPLICITLY accentuate the melodic structure of the song. You prove this when you mention Jay-Z and Linkin Park's successful collaboration.
You say later: "In fact, behind me right now…But I have a hard time considering what I'm doing as music until I pick up my guitar and play something that has some sort of overall structure over the top of it and/or sing…it was that skill that I was honing. Not talking."
You seem to not realize that 1) Rapping is the structure that is laid over the drum loops. You even say that singing is a valid structure to lay on top of the drums, which leads to
2) Talking and singing are the same thing, they are both a sequence of different sounds that vary in pitch, tone, quality, color, what have you. Talking is simply singing with no held tones. You could even think of it this way, talking is staccato singing. Listen to some of Michael Jackson's songs off of his (HISTORY?) album where he sings these very punchy lines. He sounds close to talking/rapping. There are also plenty of languages around the world that sound very "musical" for the simple reason that talking is singing and vice versa. Since talking is singing and rapping is talking, rapping is singing. And since you think that singing is a valid structure to lay over drums and thus make music, that means rap is music.
You then say: "Finally, I'd like to respond to the racebait placed before me…Even in the bad old days of segregation and minstrelsy, music was one of the only cultural activities that racist white people respected black people for."
"Respected" is really, REALLY, stretching it. "Acknowledged" (and then proceeded to imitate and profit from. And in this case imitation was not "the highest form of flattery". You already know about blackface so I don't think I need to say any more about this) is a much better word. Look up the history of how "black" music was viewed by mainstream society throughout this country's history. Jazz, as an example, was considered trash when it was created, now it is considered "high art", thanks in no small part to the "white" artists who began playing in the style. The same can be said of "Rock'n Roll" and the "Blues". It wasn't until the rebellious hippy generation of the 60's that the Blues greats were "rediscovered" and "appreciated" (though, by then, many either were dead or completely oblivious to the influence their work was having).
You then say: "Finally, I'd like to respond to the racebait placed before me…Even in the bad old days of segregation and minstrelsy, music was one of the only cultural activities that racist white people respected black people for."
"Respected" is really, REALLY, stretching it. "Acknowledged" (and then proceeded to imitate and profit from. And in this case imitation was
not "the highest form of flattery". You already know about blackface so I don't think I need to say any more about this) is a much better word.
Look up the history of how "black" music was viewed by mainstream society throughout this country's history. Jazz, as an example, was
considered trash when it was created, now it is considered "high art",thanks in no small part to the "white" artists who began playing in the
style. The same can be said of "Rock'n Roll" and the "Blues". It wasn't until the rebellious hippy generation of the 60's that the Blues greats were "rediscovered" and "appreciated" (though, by then, many either were dead or completely oblivious to the influence their work was having).
You continue: "The racial stereotype of blacks is that they are good at music, not bad,…"
Correction – "Blacks" are considered good at music once the musical genre they play in has been acknowledged and then assimilated into high
society. In the case of rap, which is still unfit for "high society", blacks are not seen as creative lyricists (thanks in no small part to the commercialization of the genre which I mentioned in my previous post) but as uncreative samplers who can't sing and make music properly. If you don't think racism plays a role in the perception of rap, look no further than Youtube's comments. In fact, look at the comments of ANY video with black people in it on Youtube and you will see racism plays a part in people's perception. My mentioning of racism was not to label EVERY LAST SINGLE PERSON who dislikes rap as racist, but simply to mention an influencing factor for enough people that it is worth noting.
Lastly, you say: "I'm sorry, Chase, but you're wrong. And that's even without addressing your 9 points…"
In a situation discussing something as arbitrary and subjective as music, brazenly declaring some as "wrong" seems a bit immature and foolish, as if you can't handle a differing opinion. Just sayin'
Hi Passin' Through,
You've just won my respect and admiration. I love how beautifully argued and elegant your comments have been here. Thanks for adding to the discussion.
I especially like how you argued that rap does, in fact, have melody. I haven't been able to illustrate that as of yet. That was definitely a high-point of my day.
How is it beautiful when it's degrating, stupid, and takes about five minutes for an 8 year old to write? Sure some rap artists might be alright at writing poety and saying it.
Still their is
No sonic sound qualities
And absolutley No skill
Of course people who like rap wouldn't understand much of that because rap isn't music therfore the listeners would know nothing of correct terminology, perception, theory, notation and composition.
I laugh at rap it's so conformist, artificial, and commercialized.
Hi Anonymous of Oct 12th,
There is beauty all around us and it can even be found in popular music.
It also doesn't matter how long it takes to create a work of art, or if you believe that someone else is capable of creating it as well.
I believe that you are making some sweeping assumptions without even really looking into what you are criticizing.
The last commenter Passin' Thru addressed quite eloquently how rap does have melody.
I agree with you that rap has been commercialized and that is part of the problem with the perception that people such as you seem to have about it. I have tried to make a logical argument and have an intelligent discussion here about it and I appreciate all the comments I have gotten. Thanks!
I can show you exact instances where dynamics are used to great effect in songs by Run-DMC, 2Pac, Young MC, and The Roots.
Most rap songs also follow a distinct structure that is common to most twentieth century music forms.
I would have to disagree with you, rap isn't music. I guess it's my definition of what music is, in that when I think of music I think singing, instruments, and original choreography. Rap is too easy to do, and it's never really intellegent. Then again, no matter how much people would argue about it, pure and simple, it all boils down to your definition of what music is and isn't.
Some great art has been created quickly and easily by many of artists. I don't think the time it takes or the ease of creating has anything to do with art. That being said, rap isn't necessarily easy to do.
Some rap is incredibly difficult to do. A Tribe Called Quest layered sound upon sound in creating a beautiful backdrop on their sophomore album. Eminem is just one emcee who brilliantly rhymes multiple syllables across an entire line of verse. Both of these things take talent, practice, and time to create.
There is a lot of intelligent rap but unfortunately, it rarely gets played on commercial radio or video channels so those outside of the hip-hop culture don't often see it.
Like you said, people's definitions are bound to differ. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the discussion.
The argument that rap isn't music is the same kind of argument as the one that says AAVE (African-American Vernacular English) isn't a language.
For its association with African-Americans, rap music is automatically viewed through a more critical lens than other forms of music. Just like the cynicism directed towards the black man in the Lexus – surely he must be some kind of criminal, rather than a person of merit who earned his wheels.
And just like the actions of one African-American somehow reflect an entire group, the commercialized garbage served to us ad nauseam on the radio, YouTube, and MTV somehow becomes indicative of the entire rap discography.
But conversely, the endless stream of white garbage – like every Disney Channel doll turned pop singer or ear-splitting pretension like "MathCore" does not at all tarnish the glorious legacy of white music.
I could go on and on with similar analogies.
Your detractors will never admit as much, because they don't have the sacks for it, but they are arguing purely from a racist position. To acknowledge that rap is music would require them to face – and ultimately reject – their own bigotry, and as white people they have zero incentive to do so.
These are the same people who use "wigger" to describe their fellows who dress after hip hop styles. This has nothing to do with "posing", because I'd bet my hat (if I wore one) that every one of them is some sort of scene kid – emo, metal, goth, punk, indie, whatever – identity purchased for about $40 at the local mall.
These people aren't worth their carbon footprint.
an "art" of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions (rappers dont do that, all they care about is the god forsaken money) in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody (rap doesnt have this) harmony, and color
basically rap doesnt include melody nor harmony, it has not reached the point for it to be catagorized as music and rap sounds like a bunch of down syndrome idiots with tourette syndrome. literally!!! check out the video "we fly high"
Thanks for your well-thought out and argued comment.
Hi Anonymous of Oct 30th,
All art is a form of expression, rap included. Also, there have always been artists who are only concerned with monetary gain and this is in no way confined to the "music business" nor this particular genre.
@ Anonymous Oct 30th
My heart sinks when the shell of a response is launched from behind a singular "example" with the intention of discrediting an entire music culture.
Id like to thank Chase for initiating the debate and for those tastefully contributing to a topic that deserves far more attention. A tip of the cap to "godheval" and "passin through" for laying it on the line. That aside, I challenge the various posters that have dismissed rap as music to watch the following music videos in sequential order as listed. These are all popular, mainstream contributors, many of which are world renown. After you have watched EVERY video, which of these examples do you consider music and for what reasons? Furthermore, which of the performers do you consider legitimate musical artists and for what reasons?
Thanks to those willing to step up!
If they bother to watch all those videos, they'll say. That Rives, LB, and the Beastie Boys aren't rap.
If you don't mind, ThoughtFriction, let me add a couple of songs to that list:
The Roots (Live) – for those of you who think rap only uses samples and synths.
Just another good song by the same group. I guess this song is all about the money and was made by a bunch of retards with tourette's, too?
And then to really make your narrow rigid categorizing brains explode:
Skindred – who classify themselves as a mix of reggae, metal, and hip-hop
I posted here previously as Passin' Through. In my previous post I said the following:
"If you don't think racism plays a role in the perception of rap, look no further than Youtube's comments."
In his comment, ThoughtFriction posted this link:
Eminem – When I'm Gone: Closed Captioned, TRL Final Version:
The comments directly beneath the video illustrate my point precisely. Here are two gems:
"eminem is the only rapper tht can truely rap about hard times and heartbreak…this is my favorite song of his..but i like them all..he is the best "
"honestly the more i listen to eminem rap from his heart the more and more i hate ghetto rappers who sing about nothing other than hoes and ghetto shit eminem is the best because his songs are deep and from his heart."
50 cent – Hate it or love it:
I'm pretty sure this post speaks for itself.
@ChaseMarch – I don't know about any other posters, but on my computer monitor the contrast for reading on this site isn't too great. A darker text color or lighter background color might help.
Not to shit on Em, because I like him, too, but seriously? From the heart? Ha ha.
Two trailer park hoes go round the outside, round the outside…
Yeah, that's the stuff souls are made of.
I checked out the links in your previous post. Great bands! I never heard of the Roots, but Skindred sounded a little familiar. Either way, consider me a fan (at least of the songs I've listened to so far).
Wow, I'm surprised you've never heard of the Roots. Of course I have because they're from my hometown, but they got pretty big in their prime. They collaborated pretty regularly I think with Erykah Badu – you know her, right? She was the woman that "You got me" video.
I really appreciate all your comments and the mention on your blog as well. Thanks for making this an intelligent debate.
I also took your advice and lightened up the background and darkened the text here. Let me know if that helps.
Thanks for the additional links to support the argument. You rock!
"I really appreciate all your comments and the mention on your blog as well. Thanks for making this an intelligent debate."
No problem, after the flood of poorly thought out comments ranting against your argument up above, I figured you could use a little backup for your POV 😀 That and I'm still discovering many new bands/groups/duos I've never even heard about that further disprove the myopic notion that rap isn't music and just commercial trash. Unfortunately, people just don't know about them.
"I also took your advice and lightened up the background and darkened the text here. Let me know if that helps."
For me it made a big difference, the comments read much more clearly. Thanks!
"They collaborated pretty regularly I think with Erykah Badu – you know her, right?"
*Smiles sheepishly* Uh…ahem…not exactly. I'm gonna have to admit that I'm not the quintessential hip hop head, though I have been working on discovering the many rap groups from the 80's up to the present. There are quite a lot. Illa J, Chali2Na, A Tribe Called Quest, and Tumi and the Volume are just a couple of the ones I've been checking out somewhat recently and that I'd never heard of. Good thing there is the internet, because where I've lived and live now, finding music material like this was highly unlikely.
Yes the color tweaks helped tremendously! Thanks for the change.
Thanks for adding to my demo selection! It was meant to exploit the relationship of speech to music across a variety of genres from the cultural perspective opposite that of hip hop. Im interested to see if any naysayers respond. Bands like Skindred and the Roots certainly fall in line with my personal preferences. Thanks for pointing out the Roots as they are very popular and an excellent example. Skindred had fallen off my radar since I took a break from metal-core but their talent is truly infectious. Thanks again!
These skinny jean, scarf wearing hipsters will never acknowledge rap. They rather force themselves to listen to some boring moaning garbage like Radiohead because they are considered to be more intelligent by hipster critics.
Rap isn't very intelligent and lot of the music you say "hipsters" listen to is way more intelligent especially when compared to rap… i know most music has music notation but rap doesn't. it really can't, it doesn't have notes either
im 20, just for reference
i was just going over afew of the comments in here and decided to say afew things
i think someone said anything we listen to on our ipods ect. is music
i laughed at this, obviously you havent heard noise.
rap is a beat and talking, you shouldnt over complicate things
the beat is usually electronic and has maybe recorded instruments
cheap and no effort required
i think in order to call your self a musical artist you have to play a instrument, with afew exceptions like opera, stomp…maybe
music is poetry and thats why rap isnt music
its simply talking about hoes, money, drugs, violence,and most of the stuff people say is emotional and has heart is talking about how they are poor, dont live a good live, theres violence around them ect.
in my opinion its not music but whatever
regardless if its music or not the lyrics are horribly stupid and from what i can see fairly stupid people listen to it anyway
stay away from the crap theres better stuff to listen to. i listen japanese music i find there lyrics to be much more poetic.
something i think north america has forgotten how to do
I don't understand why "perceived effort" keeps coming into this debate. I have seen paintings in art galleries that obviously didn't take a lot of effort.
That being said, I know that real artists can often make amazing art with very little effort. Therefore effort does not correlate in the least with art.
Thanks for your comment.
directed towards Chase March,
im not sure if your talking to me seeing as how theres 20 other Anonymous but asuming you are
my comment about effort isnt suppost to mean much im just saying that it requires no talent
painting and rap are almost nothing alike you cant really compare them, unlike rap painting requires talent and creativity i cant speak for every famous painting but most are very different with the meaning and motives to paint different with every person
people start painting usuaslly cause they love what they do
but when i think of rap i dont think of pure love
maybe some sorta deluted love that everyone seems to have developed over the years..
Hi Anonymous of December 2nd,
In regards to effort, I saw a documentary recently where Sting from The Police commented that some of his most famous and beloved songs just came to him with very little effort. Would you argue that those aren't songs and that his music isn't music?
do they play instruments, and sing.
if they do then its music
i have never listened to the police so i wouldnt know
also the word "some" was used not all.
all raps the same, well not all theres new rap like 50 cent and theres old rap like will smith but close enough.
the old stuff is better theres a better message atleast
"most famous and beloved songs"
you gotta watch how you use this word people love repetition so just because a songs liked by alota people doesnt make it good
do they play instruments, and sing.
if they do then its music
i have never listened to the police so i wouldnt know
also the word "some" was used not all.
all raps the same, well not all theres new rap like 50 cent and theres old rap like will smith but close enough.
the old stuff is better theres a better message atleast
"most famous and beloved songs"
you gotta watch how you use this word people love repetition so just because a songs liked by alota people doesnt make it good
There are plenty of rap musicians who do play music and sing. So since you say that "all rap is the same" and I can point you to rap musicians who do play and sing and fall into your category for what you define as music, then you just helped prove that rap music is music.
i meant phrase in the last paragraph just thought id say that. i tryed to post again but for some reason its just a double post
i didnt really mean all but im basically generalizing 99%
you cant say all about anything. sorry about that
i was rushing through the last message
if you look back at my first message i said this also
"music is poetry and thats why rap isnt music"
so if hes just talking with a instrument in the background not good enough
ill leave this its japanese mainstream rap, but as you can tell hes doing more than just talking.
the lyrics are more than beating a hoe you have to think about them, there more poetic
still no real instuments but its kinda coverd with the classical pieces
i would say this is the closest rap gets to music
so if you can find me something better than this than you have yourself music
the second is rap rock
its just the way things are done in japan
I don't understand how you can say that rap isn't poetry.
Most song lyrics when written down look and sound like poetry, rap included.
Also the content doesn't change the fact that poetry is poetry. Rap doesn't just serve the lowest common denominator. There are some great rap songs that are inspiring.
Quite a few rock groups incorporate rap stylings into their acts. It almost seems that the common consensus here in the comments is that rap then becomes music.
poetic thoughts are elevated thoughts, poetry is beautiful and creative
"There are some great rap songs that are inspiring."
they cant have anything to do with poverty, or hard times because thats 95% of them
those arnt inspiring there just clones of themselfs
neither of the 2 songs i sent were about hard times
what i sent was entirely different
i forgot innovative
Check out these songs,
De La Soul "Trying People" – these guys are pioneers in the game and really speak about relevant topics.
Brother Ali "Us" – this song is amazingly beautiful and inspiring.
Check out the post I did for it here – http://chasemarch.blogspot.com/2009/08/brother-ali-is-phenomenal.html
Masta Ace "Beautiful" – talks about the beauty that is all around us every day.
Sweatshop Union "Us" – deals with how we all have the power to change the world around us. It is an anti-war song.
Murs "I'm Innocent" – great lyrics about we can make a difference in the world.
Great hip-hop music is out there. It isn't normally found on the radio or video channels though. Check out the college radio stations and podcasts.
De La Soul "Trying People"
same beat never changing theres just skips in it
hes just talking, lyrics arnt special compared to what i listen to but its fine i suppose
Brother Ali "Us"
same as other
Masta Ace "Beautiful"
worst yet i think ill stop here
beat same old
instruments not really
good vocals no
ill stick to the same stuff i listen to, still not music in my eyes it just has a better meaning if this was what was on the radio i wouldnt complain as much
I wish this was the type of rap that could make it onto commercial radio. I agree that what ends up on the airwaves is often brainless.
College radio stations play good rap music such as the songs I listed above.
I'm sorry that you weren't won over by any of them, especially "Us" that song uses live instruments and a choir. It also has a very powerful and inspiring message. It almost brings me to tears, it is that amazing.
Rap is not music. It is lyrics. There's a difference. A rapper does not require musical talent, only lyrical talent. All of your points essentially admit that. Rap is lyrics set to someone else's music. Do not call people ignorant for not believing what you believe.
Hi Anonymous of Dec 14, 2009,
I think the comments here have sparked a good discussion.
We have shown that rapping does indeed take talent and that is does encompass some, if not all, of the elements of what constitutes music.
If you choose not to believe that, even after this healthy debate, that is your choice. I will not berate you for it.
Thank you for commenting.
Music is what you make it, or what you allow it to make of you.
I personally do not enjoy mainstream rap. However there is a lot of (harder to find) really great rap/hip hop and R&B.
I cannot dismiss it as being music just because I don't enjoy it.
It may not be music to my ears but it is to others. The same as Tuvan throat singing from tibet most certainly doesn't sound like music yet their culture would say it was.
The term music itself has a lot of culure boundries.
If you want to use the standard definition I read some people quoting then I beilieve your using the antiquated old white guys wearing funny wigs original definition of music. Therefore your using one cultures definition. In which case I don't think you could define music. If some tribe is found in the amazon that varies screaming and coughing and it is music to their culure it will not fit our definition. Yet I would still say it is music just the same. I don't know if I worded any of that right, I have been at work all day and my brain is fried.
I'm just sayiung music, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Hi Jan 6th Visitor,
I really like your comment about "cultural definitions" since hip-hop is a culture.
If this were a talk show I would have let you had the final word on this topic.
People always say "that rap song is so hardcore" what makes rap hardcore? and what makes it not… and why dont they teach rap in music classes and how come most real musicians hate rap or just ignore it all together
Hi Latest Anonymous,
They do teach rap in music classes. I have taught it to mine. There are university courses that deal with the genre as well.
Rap musicians are real musicians. And real musicians do consume, produce, and enjoy rap.
Too bad this weren't a talk show because the last comment was a much better way to end the interesting discussion we've had here. That being said, anyone who wants to contribute something that adds to the discussion is more than welcome to.
A friend of mine mentioned 2012 last night to me and it's the first I heard about it so I jumped on here out of curiosity. I think it's kind of sick and sounds like a bunch of skeptical jargon.
I choose to live every day like it is the last because let's be real, WHO THE HELL KNOWS what is going to happen or when it's your time to go on. The past is history, the future is a mystery and now is a gift, thats why it's called the present. It's not healthy to sit around and trip out about when you will die. Stop wasting your time you have now.
With all due respect, I wouldn't call it music. Now before you start grouping me in with those ignorant kids who only listen to 50 cent and lil wayne on the radio, I'd like to say I've explored all types of genres of music, and even seriously listened to a couple of underground rap 'artists'. And although I have an open mind, I still refuse to lump mos def, jedi mind tricks, and immortal technique with the likes of Hendrix, Clapton, and Osbourne. Here's why: A lot of people say having a beat or a rhythm makes something a piece of music. A car engine has a natural 'rhythm'. A metronome has a beat. Obviously you wouldn't call these music examples. Some supporters say, if you can listen and enjoy it, it has to be music. But I find myself listening to debates, stories, and poetry often, which I enjoy very much. People say it's art. I love abstract paintings and sculptures. I don't consider them forms of music, because they're not.
What I am getting at is rap is something entirely different from rock, jazz, blues, etc. Whereas the genres mentioned rely on song progression, melody, timbre, and rhythm to move the listener, rap relies on the spoken word first and foremost. I always said music is abstract; a song will mean something different to different people, both musically and lyrically. On the other hand, rap delivers a clear message, a spoken one. The 'music' you hear in the background is to keep that message interesting. If there were bridges, choruses, solos, and verses going on in the background, it would most likely take away from the rapper since attention would be focused on the song structure instead of the message being conveyed. Thus, the 'beat' has to remain fairly consistent and simple. There are intros, outros, and breaks, but it doesn't get very complex. 'Flow' is the closest thing it has to instrumental synchronization.
In all honesty, I respect it as an art form (art is subjective, anyway), I just don't consider it music. It is basically spoken poetry, with rhythm to keep it 'interesting'. Not too different from what the beatniks were doing in the 1960s. Yes, it takes talent to write lyrics that are thought out and meaningful, and to have your 'lines' 'flow' with the beat, and I'm not denying it. I just see it as something separate from classical, jazz, rock, blues, pop, etc. I'm sure if rap listeners would listen to both 'genres' closely, they'll hear a difference too. They'll probably react differently, too. Another thing, sound patters and words can both move you. The difference between rock and rap is how. Rock doesn't even need lyrics, since it's up to the listener to interpret the song how they want. Rap does.
And for all those people who say we 'anti-rap' supporters need to open our minds and stop being ignorant, the same could also be said about you. This is coming from someone who's explored more than enough genres for a lifetime, played three instruments, enjoys poetry, has an open mind, and has carefully examined the genre. Not only that, but I'm going by the Webster's Dictionary's definition of 'music', one that rap does not fit. Again, yes, some rappers use guitars, violins, pianos, and such, but it's in a manner not like other forms of art, mainly music. It's mostly the same pattern repeated over and over to keep the structure constant. There really isn't any real musical progression as far as I'm concerned. Like I said, if there were, it would take away from the rapper and his/her message, since the listener would pay more attention to that instead; music has a way of drawing listeners. Let's face it, without a beat, it would be a lot more boring. Likewise, without the rapper, the song would be meaningless. And although rap does share a few similarities with rock, it doesn't have enough universal qualities of music to be considered as such. This isn't an insult, my opinion, or an attempt to troll. I have enough backing on my side to safely call it an unbiased fact. Accept it and move on. If not, you're fighting a losing battle (kind of tough to prove someone who is right wrong). Pride and stubbornness will get you nowhere, especially in debates.
Through this lively discussion of comments, I have come to realize that I don't need to convince any of you so-called "anti-rap" people of anything.
People can believe and celebrate whatever they chose to. Any art form or genre of music will have people that will fail to recognize the brilliance and creativity behind it.
I think what's really needed is respect. We need to respect things we don't understand, even if that be a difference of opinion.
Thanks for the comment.
FUCK RAP RAWR RAWR RAWR
long live the organization
I’m just giving my two cents. And again, I’m not bashing by saying, ‘it’s not music’. I see real rap as a form of art, just a different one from music. In my opinion, it is spoken poetry, with less emphasis on musical aspects than say, progressive rock. The message of the lyrics seem to be the primary focus. The ‘beats’ are there to keep it going and keep the listener interested. Beats can come from a turntable, drum set, guitar, keyboard, or anything other instrument. Music on the other hand, relies on progressing sound patterns, on the music itself. The point is to move the listener with instruments. The lyrics are there, they just aren’t the focus of the songs. Some don’t need lyrics at all. Even then, a lot of rock lyrics are abstract themselves, sometimes using metaphors and having double or even no definite meanings at all. I don’t think I’ve ever been moved by a rap (in a purely musical sense) song like I have been with certain rock and metal. When I listen to music, I’m looking for music. I’ve never been big on lyrics, so you can see why I view rap as extremely minimalistic in a musical aspect; that’s where my focus is at and rap to me is pretty much devoid of that. If most rock songs were as simple as beats used in genres like rap and techno, I wouldn’t listen to them; they would simply be too ‘boring’ and repetitive for me. While I’m typing this, I’m listening to Ulver – Lost in Moments, a great song that pretty much sums up my definition of music. If you want to know where I’m coming from, listen to this song when it’s quiet, dark, and empty. Don’t focus on the few words being said in the song. Instead, see them as another instrument in the arrangement of sound. Close your eyes. Let your imagination run wild. After all, music is abstract. A song’s meaning is whatever you make of it, just like abstract art. Then, I want you to tell me what you ‘feel’ listening to it. You’ll see why I can’t enjoy rap in the same way as other ‘genres’. There’s a difference, and hopefully this sets the record straight. You can find a few of these elements in rap, but you’ll probably never hear a song with all of them, and in a similar manner.
Now, it might be because I’m observant and like to place things in categories, but I still see rap and forms of music as something different. Yes, they’re both auditory. Yes, rap shares a few element of music, elements that can also be found in a lot of other things. But if you can’t tell there’s at least a small difference between Ulver and Daniel Dumile, it’s hopeless. For me, rap is just empty. I can’t get the same type of enjoyment as listening to an orchestra, because unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of ‘talking’. I prefer good singing that blends in with the synchronization of the other instruments. I guess you could say a few rap songs do have enough qualities to be labeled as music, or borderline music. Still, this doesn’t account for the entire genre and my opinion remains…
Oh, and I know it takes creativity and hard work to write a successful rap song. 'Flow' seems to be one of the more challenging aspects. I know rappers have to make sure bass lines are on key. I know there is song structure, albeit much simpler than found in other forms. Don't let my opinion convince you that I hate it and want it gone forever (well, I want certain ones gone). I'm here to try to get people to see things my way, so there's no confusion or hostilities when I say, 'rap isn't music'. I never really think of rap on a daily basis btw, but when I go out into the city, I'm surrounded by it and that gives me a good chance to listen and draw my own conclusions.
Hopefully, my posts here aren't in vain and I can get something to turn on 'up there'. I see nothing wrong with exchanging ideas.
There are several genres of music that use "talking" as part of the song. I can think of folk, country, punk, and medieval songs that use rap-type elements to them.
Face it, rap music is nothing new. It is as old as vocal music is.
Vocal music also does not need an accompaniment. Singers can sign with or without music. Barbershop Quartets accompany themselves with non-sense sounds and syllables.
I don't think you'd find anyone who would argue that these songs are not music. People like to argue about rap all the time and I don't see why. My goal with this post was to open people's minds, eyes, and ears. I'm glad that it has got you thinking about this.
Haha. This is how NOT to play a cello:
First of all, I just love how you think being a high school music teacher gives you any credibility on the subject of music. You know what they sat- those who can play, those who can't teach.
Let's just see who's works are still being played in 100 years. I'm betting on Bird, Coltrane, Tatum, Stravinsky, Varese, Bach, Beethoven, Ives, etc. and against any rapper, the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, etc., all the simplistic three-chord crap and non-music that is rap will long have passed into the frogotten dustbin of history. One thing rap isn't is art. Try posting your opinions here:(of course, you would have to join first and you won't do that)
Rappers Arn't Musicians
I'd be curious to know what you do for your profession? You tried to trash me based on my credentials but you didn't volunteer what qualifies you to make any assertions about music.
How many instruments can you play? Have you ever been in an orchestra? in a marching band? in a music group of any kind?
Not only do I teach music, I play several instruments. I read, write, and can compose music. Composing music for a big band is a difficult task that requires hard work and patience. Have you ever attempted it?
Oh, and thanks for the incredibly over-used teacher-bashing comment. That really adds weight to your argument.
I've been a jazz musician my entire life. I've played wedding bands, cruise ships, salsa, rock, reggae, salsa, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, pit bands for musicals since I was IN high school, orchestras, you name it. I've played and recorded with the great bassisit Andy Simpkins, Charles McPherson, Mike Wofford, Herman Riley, Harold Jones, Herman Riley and many others. Rap is a scam- record companies love to make those CDs because it's takes a couple hours. People like you are one thing only-full of shit. So you play a bunch of instruments- big fucking deal. So does Howard Johnson except he's played them in studios in LA for decades and well enough to make a lot of money. High school band director, the lowest rung on the musical ladder. Who the fuck have you evert played with, you fucking arrogant asshole? Anyone who knows about theory and has a piano can compose music. Big fucking deal. Rap isan't music, dipshit. Why does it have to rhyme, by the way? Free verse has been around since e. e. cummings. Bukowski wrote much better poetry years before rap became the bullshit fucking fad it is.
I like to have debates and discussions on my blog. I try my best to personally answer every comment that I get.
However, I am going to stop wasting my time dealing with ignorant people like Kevin Quail and this most recent Anonymous of March 8th.
I followed Kevin's invitation and joined that Facebook group. The admin deleted my discussion post after only a few hours. I had one respectful person carry on the debate but Kevin was nowhere to be seen.
You do not need to swear or disrespect my profession or person and I don't need to respond to it or give you any more of my time.
I'm sorry but I am going to close the comments on this discussion.
I might be late to the party but I can’t believe this retard that said those records take a few hours to make. I rap and they take me weeks, even months to make
Agreed, Rhetoric, a great crafted rhyme, coupled with the perfect production, certainly can take a lot of time and effort.
The speaking part of it is rapping that I would have to say is poetry, the beat behind it is music so it is a mixture with two components so yes and no but most of the words coming out of the rapper is not the musical aspect of it. About it movies have the musical soundtrack in the back but that does not make the movie a musical same thing with place on stage in theatre you can have a soundtrack in the back but that does not make the play a musical so with frappe even though you have the soundtrack in the back the person is pretty much doing poetry.