Often in music, people are quick to categorize or place a certain sound in one genre. However, I think that much of the so-called genres of music actually correlate with each other in some way or another. For an example, Rock music originates from Blues and some may say that early 20th century artists like Cab Calloway or Bo Diddley helped pave the way for ‘’rapping’’ on a beat. The term ‘’pop music’’ and ‘’alternative’’ music are very broad in meaning. Nirvana, who were called a ‘’grunge band’’, still created ‘’popular music’’. However, some people would not label Nirvana in the same genre as Madonna or Backstreet Boys…but weren’t they all ‘’pop music artists’’? Pop music simply means ‘’popular mainstream music’’. Some people even categorize music based on race, which is rather ignorant in my opinion. There is no such thing as ‘’white music’’ or ‘’black music’’ because music has no specific color. Music is colorful and just because I am a certain ethnicity does not mean I can only relate to a specific kind of musical style. In my mind, there is only two kinds of music. Music that is good…and music that is not. This, however, is all a matter of opinion because I could enjoy something that someone else does not. I just hope people will try to go beyond simply placing an artist or their music in one category. For instance, Blondie’s singer Debbie Harry honestly might have been one of the very first female artist to make a rap song. Why isn’t she accepted as one of the very first mainstream successful female rappers? Another example is the band Rage against the Machine. The lead singer obviously is a rapper. Yet, they are not simply called an ‘’hip-hop band’’. Rage against the Machine are known as ‘’alternative-rap’’. If musical styles correlate with each other, than one cannot simply be placed in one genre. It is challenging to place artists in one genre if they are creating a variety of musical forms within their songs. If you look up the different rapping styles on Wikipedia, you will see that there are tons of different rapping subcategories. ‘’Nerd core rap…Horror-core rap…’’. Perhaps I am thinking way too much in this and people simply place music into lots of categories so they can organize them. However, I think at the end of the day it is best to remember that music’s definition is way more than the genres it is placed in. Music is described by the portrait it is painting, the lyrics it is forming, and the artists who are creating this beautiful art form.
Some people feel as though one word can have several different meanings depending on who is saying it. For instance, the word bitch. Many females may cringe and curse out a random guy who would scream, ‘’AY BITCH COME HERE!’’ at them. However, in our generation being considered a ‘’bad bitch’’ is an honorary title. Isn’t it a form of hypocrisy if I do not want to be called a bitch in a negative way, but would let someone refer to me as one if it is deemed a compliment? So, what is really in a name? Although a word does not describe someone’s personality, dissecting the logic behind this can have long term effects on people, especially the youth. In my opinion, Lupe Fiasco’s ‘’Bitch Bad’’ is underrated and the logic behind the song is the total opposite of what is celebrated in our generation today. Yet, if you actually dissect the lyrics…maybe he has a point. ‘’Bitch Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better…their misunderstood.’’
In the year of 1996, an influential hip-hop band called The Roots decided to express how they felt about the current state of mainstream rap. Even though this song was recorded nearly 20 years ago, I feel as though it can still be used for reference in today’s era. We should all be fully aware of how amazing and popular a lot of non-mainstream rappers are, and these artists are making a name for themselves without being signed to any label. However, in my opinion a lot of the mocked images in Hip-Hop involve exactly what The Roots were talking about. For one, The Roots had made several points in this classic song along with their famous subtitles to help them prove their points.
”Lost generation, fast paced nation
World population confront they frustration
The principles of true hip-hop have been forsaken
It’s all contractual and about money makin
Pretend-to-be cats don’t seem to know they limitation
Exact replication and false representation
You wanna be a man, then stand your own
To MC requires skills, I demand some shown
The lyrics are very true to me because in our generation, a lot of the youth imitate and are inspired by the images shown in Hip-Hop. Some rappers glorify accumulating wealth in a negative way and glorify selling drugs, yet some of them may just simply want to sell albums despite how false or imitated their image is . There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be intellectually lyrical in your music, but it is frustratingly sad when many rappers talk about the same things in their songs . This is why many people get very excited when someone different comes and can prove that they are very lyrical and not just good at saying catchy phrases or doing what is the norm. ”The true principles of Hip-Hop has been forsaking”, is a very debatable statement, but if you know the history and timeline of Hip Hop, then maybe it is not that incorrect. Bottom line, in my opinion even after all of these years…The Roots ”Never Do What They Do” may be a good reference song to artists who understand how powerful the message is.
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