My Lesson in Hip-Hop

I’ll get this out into the open: I’m not expert in hip-hop. Or rap. Or neat-o styles of music to which people dance in clubs (though there is this).

But let me write a few lines that may fall upon your eye. I’m going to talk about what I appreciate in hip-hop music, and I’ll compare some artists and their styles.

TL;DR: Some artists are really awesome at writing meaningful lyrics and expanding the art of hip-hop; others — not so much.

It bothers me when people say “Country music isn’t music,” or, “hip-hop and rap is just crap.”

Have you even listened to the music?  The good music?

I’ll prove my point — being, that good hip-hop music exists — by giving you a few examples.

Writing

Bad Example

“John” — Lil Wayne

In this piece, Lil Wayne describes to us… what? I haven’t looked up the lyrics (probably not going to do so), but as far as I’m concerned, he’s saying, “I’m more of a dominant male than you.

Mr. Wayne continues by saying, “I’m fuckin’ her good; she got her legs on my neck.” A unique observation, no less. I suppose it is neat that he is cool enough to be having intercourse on a regular basis.

“I got a chopper in the car.”

We later learn that he’s “got a chopper in the car.” I’m assuming a “chopper” is an AK-47 — which makes his male dominance so much more appealing.

Also, the music video connects with many audiences. Mr. Wayne is seen yelling forcefully, shirtless, into a microphone on a stage in an empty room. Another gentleman is seen in a wheelchair.

Good Example

http://youtu.be/-OpCRHbsIFs

“Int’l Players Anthem” —UGK feat. Outkast

We begin with a scene just before André 3000‘s (Benjamin André, 3-Stacks, our lovable 50% of Outkast) wedding. The protagonist’s wedding party is giving him a hard time about settling down and getting married.

While the actual song doesn’t start until 0:29 seconds, we see how André teases his fellow mates about how they’ll be old and alone if they never settle down.

The song begins with André 3000’s portion of the collaboration.  As he raps on top of the hook (Willie Hutch’s I Choose You”), we learn that Mr. 3000 has finally made a commitment and has decided to settle down.

He’s texted the “girl I used to see,” saying that, “I chose this cutie pie with whom I wanna be.” He’s not at all shy about this commitment, as he’s “CCd every girl,” with whom he’d had relations around town.

We then learn about his internal struggle regarding marriage. Why give up a life of women and fun?

No lookin’ back” says 3-Stacks. “Spaceships don’t come equipped with rear-view mirrors.” I interpret the spaceship line to be the fact that his most recent relationship has happened so quickly and has taken him to new heights, leaving him no time nor need to look back and reflect.

André makes good use of multisyllabic rhymes and internal rhyme, along with a few puns here and there: “I’m Glad-ihs-night so the light from the son will not burn me on my bum.”

At the end of the first portion, we hear 3-Stacks’ friends try to talk him out of it one last time before finally giving in and saying they’ll still have his back.

“Keep your heart, 3-Stacks; Keep your heart.”

The last line of the first portion is from the same friend, who displays his lack of faith in marriage and his disdain for giving ones entire heart to a woman.

The rest of the song continues in a collaborative manner, but I’m the most impressed with Benjamin André’s role.

Freestyle

Sure — I’ve never freestyle rapped before, but I can imagine the participants often have a general idea about which they plan to rap during the always-limited time span of a freestyle rap. But some are just better than others.

Bad Example

Lil Wayne

OK, I seriously don’t intend on this being a Lil Wayne hate-fest. But it kind of is.

At first, Mr. Wayne does not seem too keen on spitting some hot verses into the microphone for the radio-folk. You begin to wonder whether he’s had a little too much purple drank.

Before he begins, Wayne tells us, “I don’t even know how to rap,” and he, “don’t want no music.”

Touché, sir.

The end result? Periods, dogs, lawyers, employers.

This video has 26,000+ dislikes on YouTube.

Good Example

Kid Cudi

Mr. Cudi wastes no time laying down his slick verses into that hot mic. Though a lot of it’s about being a dominant male and having females at his disposal, he sounds awesome.

He even gets bored with the first hook and starts rapping to a new one.

I think that’s sick. And I don’t mean the puking-in-the-alley-after-a-night-of-drinking sick…

“A Life in the Day of Benjamin André” — Benjamin André

It’s true — this man is my favorite rapper. And although this probably isn’t completely freestyle, it’s about as close as you can get.

3-Stacks raps to two different instrument hooks as he tells a story about a woman he met at the beginning of his career. As the story progresses, we learn about his interactions with her as time passes and their lives both change.

Singing

The use of vocal tones can often be overlooked in the art of hip-hop; here, I’ll give it a critical examination. I won’t be too hard on them, though.

Bad Example

“Prom Queen” — Lil Wayne

Mr. Wayne takes on us a trip back to the high school years as he sings/raps about his confusing date situation before prom night.

He apparently has very little luck in securing the woman whom he’d like to accompany to the prom. I think she’s the prom queen, in fact — tying up her schedule quite a bit.

She also has fancy underwear.

This song was brought to you by Autotune: Replacing crappy voices with crappy voices with different musical tones since the turn of the century.

Good Example

http://youtu.be/XEV5_cPZkCo

“When I Look in Your Eyes” — Outkast

While hits like “Hey Ya,” “Roses,” and “Ms. Jackson” come first to mind, Outkast has produced some pretty quality stuff.

This little tune sung by Benjamin André expresses his love toward a woman. Possibly a fresh take on an older Sinatra tune, we learn that every other woman in his life is dull compared to the woman in focus.

I hope I haven’t lost the faith of humanity in proper objectivity by writing this post, but hopefully you got a chance to listen to music to which you don’t habitually listen.