May 29, 2004


I'd thought I'd add a little note on the rap music. One of my friends here recently told me she was shocked to climb into my car for the first time and hear Dr. Dre. I've gotten that a lot over the past seven years as my interest in rap music has developed. Once on a bus trip in France someone asked what I was listening to, and until I passed the headphones around, no one really believed it was Doggystyle. I guess I don't quite fit the profile for a rap lover, but then again I don't fit the profile for the reasons why most listeners love rap.

As someone who is fascinated by language, particularly the origin of slang and colloquial expressions, my love for rap is based on the amazing use of the English language. Though most consider the men (and women) who rap to be undereducated, the things they do with rhyme and wordplay blow my college degrees away. This is creation of something new with our language, a talent I intensely admire and wish I could do myself. All the school in the world can't help you freestyle. Take some of my favorite rhymes:

So where's all the mad rappers at?
It's like a jungle in this habitat
But all you savage cats know that I was strapped wit gats
when you were cuddlin a Cabbage Patch
--from Dr. Dre "Forgot About Dre" off 2001

No I'm not the first king of controversy
I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
to do black music so selfishly
and used it to get myself wealthy
--from Eminem "Without Me" off The Eminem Show

Do not step to me - I'm awkward
I box leftier often
My pops left me an orphan
my momma wasn't home
--from Jay-Z "Renegade" off The Blueprint

And there were a dozen more I could have chosen. The rhyme is incredible, not to mention that many of these rappers do this off the top of their heads. Have you ever seen someone freestyle? The dexterity these rappers have with language, the way they can weave and mold it, completely thrills me. It's not really something that you can learn to do, you just have to have it. You have to feel it in your bones and be completely in-tune with your language.

I just can't explain how brilliant I think that is.

Many people say they just don't get rap music. Many say the lyrics are too fast, the beat is a distraction, or the offensive language turns them off. I guess it's not for everyone, though I say that anyone who can do this

So what do you say to somebody you hate
Or anybody tryna bring trouble your way
Wanna resolve things in a bloodier way
Just study your tape of NWA

is worth at least a nod of respect for his abilities.

Posted by: Sarah at 08:40 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
Post contains 485 words, total size 3 kb.

1 In 1964 when my husband finished his Phd we moved to Sapelo Island, GA where the state has a marine research laboratory. The island was owned at the time by the estate of RJ Reynolds and a portion had been given to the state of GA for the research lab. There were apartments in the old hunting lodge and some houses built for the research staff. But also on the island was a colony of descendants of the slaves that were used on the island a hundred years before. Their native language was Gullah. It was so beautiful to listen to them, the cadence was just enthralling. I would listen and listen and try to repeat it but I could not. Most of the words were English but the cadence was such that it was a different language. Of course, some of it was, but to me they spoke English in their own way. We attended their church for their Christmas program, that was one of the greatest thrills of our year long stay there. So unique, so founded in tradition, I have wondered a lot about what happened to the children as they grew up and moved away just to go to school. They must surely have changed and the language is probably dying out. I think that rap came from a multisourced effort, not Gullah, but from Carribbean islands, in an effort to keep alive their heritage. I remember a rapper from the 50' 60's whose name I cannot recall, who explained that on the Parr show one night. I wonder if the current rappers realize their heritage?

Posted by: Ruth H at May 29, 2004 03:53 PM (ylItw)

2 I agree. I love Eminem for the same reasons. I just wish there were a lot less pimp/ho glorification in the genre, but oh well.

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