Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"I could no longer nod my head to the misogyny or keep time to the vapid materialism of another rap song."

So says Washington Post writer Lonnae O'Neal Parker in an interesting piece that appeared in the newspaper yesterday. Parker concluded that she had to leave hip-hop behind and explains why. Her experiences with a genre she loves underscore the findings I discussed here not long ago.

I'm a white, middle class, fifty-something preacher. But in past years, I enjoyed rap music and have defended its legitimacy. Some fifteen years ago, in a conversation with friends, one woman, knowing what a music fan I am, asked if I thought rap music was around to stay. Before I could begin my answer, another person laughed dismissively and said, "Of course not." "No," I said, "I'm sure that it is around to stay. Like other musical genres that were once marginalized and brought into the mainstream, it'll stay as a stand-alone style and also be incorporated and fused with other styles." (Pardon my pride; I'm seldom so accurate a prophet!)

Rap and hip-hop's ascendancy was fine with me. I love it when tasty ingredients are added to our musical stew. Besides, I love hip-hop's energy, its innovative rhymes, and its rhythms.

But its ever-growing misogyny and materialism, traits it shares with much of today's guitar-driven rock, are destructive, making most of it un-listenable as well as a corrosive influence on the self-esteem and psychological well-being of young people.

Parker seems to agree with that assessment. Read all of her article.


Anonymous said...

Which rap or hip-hop artists do you like and/or respect? Please don't just say, "DC Talk."

Mark Daniels said...

I think that both JayZ and Will Smith have done interesting stuff. But rather than specific artists, I was referring more to the interesting use of language--it isn't always about profanity or misgyny--that made rap interesting and fun. Listening to some of those early rap rhymes was a bit like listening to lyrics by Cole Porter or Ira Gerswhin, just really interesting and clever use of language.

More recently, I've enjoyed the way Gnarls Barkley and Gorillaz have incorporated rap into their music.

By the way, Terri Gross did a terrific series on 'The History of Hip-Hop' earlier this year. The web address is: http://www.npr.org/search.php?text=the+history+of+hip-hop&sort=DREDATE%3Anumberdecreasing&aggId=0&prgId=13&topicId=0&how_long_ago=0


L.L. Barkat said...

As with all art, there's potential for good and evil. However, it's interesting to consider if some art forms promote more evil than others, and, if so, why...