In my last blog I ended by saying, “… don’t get me started on rap…!” So Lets get started….
Rap. Not a big fan. There are things I like and a whole lot I don’t.
Let’s start with what I like:
I like Rap when the beats are huge and very danceable (ironic considering I cannot dance worth a damn). However, I do love a great groove I can feel. Some rap has that going for it. I enjoy a rap piece that also has a well produced and massive bass line. Then a well syncopated lyrical delivery is icing on the cake. I like it! The rapper I like best is Tupac. His voice was thunderous, authoritative, powerful and had a “sing-songy, yet brutal, ” lilt that resonated with me on a ” Don’t Fuck With Me” frequency. Curious, as this is a frequency that Hard Rock and Heavy Metal resonate on – an interesting overlap there…. His huge voice seemed at odds with his slight stature. I think that made him all the more cool. Plus he doubled all his vocals in the studio and they never quite matched, and this lent itself to a unique sound all his own. His lyrics, even I could understand (poetry was never strong with this one…). He was sincere and passionate and had more charisma that just about anybody. For real. He was at the head of the West Coast vs. East Coast-rivalry, which was all bullshit, especially if you consider that he was a New Yorker representing the “West Sieeeeeeeeeede!” One of many red flags suggesting this Rap stuff is basically full of shit. I’ll get more into that momentarily. Poor Tupac started to believe his own bullshit and it cost him his life. He didn’t even make it to 30. That sucks….
What I don’t like:
I believe Rappers have successfully perpetrated THE greatest con in entertainment history. They beat the system! Normally I’m all too happy to see people beating the system (as long as no one gets hurt). However, in this case I’m not happy about them beating the system even tho I admire the shit out of it. I just don’t like that they enjoy the rewards in musical achievements when they aren’t even musicians. It sucks, but again, you gotta admire it on some level.
Here is the con job: Rapper and Hip-Hop Whatevers have fooled just about everyone into believing they are musicians. From radio executives to TV personalities right down to 1st and 2nd graders. Some of the finest musicians in the world will never know the fortunes the Rapper and Hip-Hop Whatevers enjoy. They will never take home Grammy Awards, which Rapper and Hip-Hop Whatevers abscond with by the ton, year after year.
Rap has been dominating radio and video going on 40 years now, when all other genres enjoy a 10 year life span, if lucky. Most Rapper and Hip-Hop Whatevers, maybe all of them, can’t play a single instrument, at least not at any level that could be considered professional. Most of them can’t carry a tune, tune a guitar or know a single musical note from anything! Yet they reign supreme and their accomplishments and “musical genius” is lauded from The New York Times to Rollingstone Magazine, to Forbes to Wallstreet Journal,- just about every major periodical – all the way to the Grammys themselves. Its THE greatest CON ever perpetrated in entertainment history! You though Rock Hudson passing himself off as straight all those years was a feat! Bullshit! Rock’s got nothing on rap! Wait…. I don’t like the way that sounded…. OK. HUDSON had nothing on rap. There. That’s better…..
In the beginning, rappers took heat for sampling other peoples’ music and then just rhyming spoken -word and being called “musicians” for it. So some of the bigger money artists like Jay Z and Snoop now use live bands with top notch musicians to lend legitimacy to their claims at being musicians. Its like me stealing my mom’s leftover – Awesome Tuna Casserole out of her fridge, traipsing it around, telling the world that I made the Awesome Tuna Casserole and I’m the greatest chef in the World. And then when people start to figure out that I can’t cook (mainly the professional cooks out there) well then I just hire Wolfgang Puck and his crew to work in my kitchen while I hold up my arms like a champion and demand to be recognized as a great chef!! And then every major Cuisine magazine writes me up as a cooking genius, I go on all the major TV shows while they all adore my amazing prowess in the kitchen. I win all the awards, make millions of dollars etc etc etc. All the while I couldn’t even crack an egg. And then real cooks sit at home writing a blog for there web site complaining about it….. ahem….
But hey its working. I see Jay Z all over TV shows where the hosts of said shows introduce him as one of the greatest musicians of our time and then fall over themselves practically trying to perform fellatio on him or cradle his sac, gently easing his genius ass into the guest chair, as Bill Maher does every time Jay Z comes on his show. Painful to watch.
My friends who love Hip-Hop tell me Jay Z is the shit. I try to listen and while the music he has on his tracks either sampled or composed by real musicians (for which he would take FULL credit for) sound great. I find his rhyming and “flow” to be lazy. Many rap fans feel its Sacrilige to say that and I apologize to devout hip-hop fans for any offense. But I just don’t get it. Tupac kicks his ass. Besides. If you’re a hip hop fan you probably aren’t even reading this. So fuck you! LOL!
I mentioned the compositions ol’ Jay Z undoubtedly took credit for. This is another huge slice of the rap con that drives me nuts. Producer / Songwriter credits! I don’t now how many hip-hop folks have won Grammies for “Producer Of The Year” or some such thing. I listen to Jay Z’s “Show Me Whatchyou Got” Its a cool sounding track. Its live (unsampled) music played by live musicians. Other than coming up with his lyrics, I can’t he imagine what else he did for that track. I seriously doubt he came to the musicians with notation and charts with the chord changes and rhythms all written out and said, “this is what I want you to do.” Or even sat down on a piano or guitar and explained, harmonically, how he wanted to arrange this piece. More than likely he had great players around him playing delicious chords, none of which he could ever name. and said “…. yeah! That one! Play that one!! I like that!…” Or just listened to his band play and chime in with a “… yeah that shit is dope! Do that thing you just did but first play that other thing you did that was dope…” Boom! Producer of the Year! Song Writer Of The Year!!! Countless Grammys, accolades and riches for that…. Wow.
Not to pick on Jay Z. He’s just an example of what is rampant in Hip-hip. And any rappers out there who truly can play musical instruments and have years of dedicated passion and love behind their musical proficiency I take my hat off to you! Much respect. Wyclef Jean of the Fugees is a musician. He can play the guitar really well! Remember the Fugees? Hip-hop act from the 90’s. Wycle Jean at the helm, they also had that gorgeous gal Lauren Hill (currently in jail for tax evasion), who later went on to do a solo album and win “Producer Of The Year” at the Grammy ! You think she can play a single fucking note on anything??? Think she knows her way around a studio patch bay? Think she even knows the difference between an AEC cable and an XLR cable??? I doubt it. To further illustrate the the charlatan nature of rap: Lauren grew up with Zack Braff in a very white New Jersey suburb, in a very white neighborhood, went to very white schools etc etc. Her “street cred” is nil. Ironic how she’s so racially militant.
Is Rap a legitimate art form worthy of reward and respect? Yes! Absolutely. Are rappers musician worthy reward and respect in the music business? No! Absolutely not.
I wish there was another forum or area of art they could occupy away from music. Maybe then people who actually are musicians can enjoy some time in the sun. Maybe then people who really know music, dedicate time, blood, sweat and tears to their instrument(s) and the study of music, wouldn’t have to die broke and unrecognized. At least have a chance. I know there are other non-rap genres that do well in the music business, but they aren’t rock, so they suck! LOL!!! Seriously there is limited room, and hip-hop is taking up a LOT of space. Maybe there could be The Annual Story Tellers Award Show to recognize and reward the story tellers and poets, which is what rappers truly are. Just stop giving them our Grammys and call them musicians!!
I have close friends, pro musicians, who love rap. “Why!?” I ask. Begging someone to teach me what the big deal is about the art. My dear friend Jason, who is a young black man from a black neighborhood explained that it was the sound and story of his hood. His life. Makes sense. What about the 95% of the rap- fan base that are as far removed from the hood and the American black experience as I am??
The truth is that 95% of the world couldn’t tell you the difference between Jimi Hendrix and Cannible Corpse. Between Metallica and Stevie Ray Vaughn. They couldn’t tell you if that’s a guitar they’re hearing or a kazoo; a flute or a bass guitar. And its on these unsuspecting, sadly uneducated and wholly unsophisticated ears that Hip-Hop has come to rely on for their very existence. Fabulous marketing strategies and fantastical tales of street warfare and misogyny fuel young, awkward pre-pubescent boys with testosteroney fantasies of being hard. And the rest???? I guess they enjoy a clever turn-of-phrase and/or they just like a good beat to dance to.
There are people out there who appreciate and love a great musician. They usually love rock music, and usually hate Hip-hop.
So that’s what I don’t like about Rap. Its a con. I’m a musician. Not 50 Cent. Not Eminem. Not Jay Z. Not DMX. Not even Tupac (RIP). On and on and on … Am I being unseasonable? Ok. Go tell a Navy Seal that you’re a decorated war veteran ’cause you “kicked ass on HALO 4 and you’re on your way to the White House to receive the Medal Of Honor for your valor on the battlefield “. Go tell Barry Bonds that YOU’RE the Homerun King ’cause you play Nintendo. Go tell a fireman that your buddy Todd “… is a respected fireman ’cause he can light his farts!” See what will happen then! See what I mean? That’s Rap. A bunch of Halo playin’ fart lighters! They’ve fooled just about everyone!
Now don’t even get me started on them perpetratin’ straight up wanna-be Gs, be trippin’ on a mufuck talking’ about some computer programed bullshit. ( You know. Those folks who just use computer programs and make random programmed “music”??)
Ya feel me, Dawg!? Peace out!!!!
14 comments on “Rap”
Preach Doug Couldn’t agree more !!
Lauren Hill played guitar on MTV unplugged. She doesn’t shred, but she can accompany herself. She had a cool rhythm style too. Simplistic, but she can sing and hold it down. Given that, I don’t think we can fairly conclude whether or not she knows what she is playing.
Just came across your site Doug via Mike Piera’s site.
All I can say about this, is, preach it brother. I’ve been playin’ gigs since ’83. Sometimes full time (early in life, and when I’ve been unemployed ;-), now, mostly weekend warrior.
Currently, one band I’m workin’ with does old school funk/soul where I’m the only white guy.
Love love playin’ the old funk/soul/r&b jams from the 60s/70s/80s with these guys. Always lookin’ to stretch out and play stuff I’ve never done before. An eye opening amount of complexity in these tunes for sure…..
But, yeah, I’ve told those guys the same thing as you do above……I don’t get it, doesn’t take anywhere near the talent/work as playin’ an instrument on a giggable, let alone pro level does……to “play” the rap crap….
I used to, as a kid, sell records back in the day in my Dad’s/Uncle’s electronics shop…..I saw the advent of this with the sugarhill gang, kurtis blow, etc.
I couldn’t have dreamed back then what this would do to mainline music (musicians actually playing music)
Say what you will about prog rock,classic rock, yacht rock, pop, etc back then……but, at least there were musicians working a craft of some type.
There’s alotta music from back then that I didn’t fully appreciate until I became a player myself. Now, I play in country bands, rock bands, oldies bands, and the mentioned soul thing….but…….rap?! F no……I’ve often called it the rapifacation of America…..and, it hasn’t been good in any way what-so-ever………Rant over…..Happy New Year fellow musicians…….. 🙂
And I really appreciate your musicianship Doug, keep the dream alive man.
Well said Doug. It’s not just Rap though now. A lot of music is sampled and churned out. It’s more ‘computer based’ than ‘musician’. I’ve played guitar for 44 years. Not professional and I don’t read music. But I’ve seen the change and there are still some great musicians out there. When the Internet settles down, perhaps the likes of YouTube and Spotify will be the new ‘albums’ where the music is free and you earn from ads. Then you’ll have to gig to earn. But that’s another story/argument.
Spoken like a true “G” dawg! LOL. Dude, you just said exactly what I’ve been feeling my whole life. Most these guys don’t even know what the “beat” is, they think it’s the entire song, not just the “drums”. Frustrates me to all hell, but glad you touched on it, brotha! Hope all is well with you, gotta get that lesson in sometime! 🙂
Doug you rock man. I love your playing. Now…Rap. I like the rapper Immortal Technique. He say’s pretty much what you’re saying with the intent to rage at the insane machine like a hurricane. He refused to sign with any pirates for peanuts and be told what was OK to say. Is why no one has heard of him? hum… He’s not selling I’m a badass. Not only do the promote shite but they suppress great artists from being heard. BTW the clip of you going through the Steve Stevens amp…bella! I plugged my guitar into a Friedman amp yesterday for the 1st time. Heavens doors opened and the rock and roll angles we singing Hells Bells. Peace
I also agree. Though there’s good and bad in all forms of music, I find very little rap that I like. I hate when white bread kids from middle class neighbourhoods speak and dress and try to act all ‘gangsta’. It really makes me want to clip them around the ears. Many of these kids have never seen a live, loud rock ‘n’ roll band so they don’t know what they’re missing. They settle for crap ‘cos they don’t know any better.
There’s a lot of crap rock and metal out there too – but at least they’re having a go at playing an instrument.
I agree with you on every point. I would like to add that the same thing can be said about Ozzy.
Exactly. It’s hard to say it, but you said what millions of musicians haven’t and you said it well. It will always be a hard pill to swallow.
Thanks Doug and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always thought hip hop was a scam that relied on the average person’s ignorance to perpetuate itself. Growing up I listened to rock blues jazz and later on fusion. It just seems that rap was a step backwards after the milestones of blues and jazz. I caught your show on February 28th at the Lava Room in Colorado at the Reserve Casino in Central City. You guys really brought it that night and I love your playing. My wife and I met you at the bar afterward and you and your bandmates were real gentlemen. It made me proud to be a musician and I’m glad I got to meet you. Regards, Paul
Beautiful said…well in a chainsaw way of beauty. You remember wendy williams and the plasmatics.
Doug love your playing first of all. It shows that you did a lot of wood shedding to build up your chops and playing ability.
Maybe rappers would argue that their words and rhythm are akin to practicing through the Mahavishnu orchestra song book…like I did when I was a kid at GIT.
Ho Hum we live in such a different world where a button is pressed to create just about anything taking the human being out of the equation. I guess that is why guys like Kurzweill , Gates, and Hawkins are so affraid of AI.
I, like you, believe in meritocracy….those that work hard and build something awesome should be acknowledged and appreciated( and dude we appreciate the hell out of your playing). Shit I sat at home all through High School building my chops on guitars in the 70s. Can you imagine how I had to trash records to figure out Hendrix, Thrall, Holdsworth etc….now dudes can capture it, slow it down, even notate it….wheres the fun it that torture.
I like the “genus” beats these days – turn the knobs until it sounds good…..
Great write-up. Couldn’t agree more.
Agree with Doug. You said it right. And it’s true.