I don’t like stereotypes. I think they can be good for a laugh now and then, but otherwise I think they are useless. One of the stereotypes that annoys me the most is the depiction of rap music as unintelligent.
I won’t pretend like there aren’t dumb rap songs (i.e. anything by Chief Keef or Young Thug), but judging rap by just songs like that paints an ugly and inaccurate picture. Rap music is such an extensive genre filled with so many different style. You can judge it off just artists like that, if you do, in the words of Big Sean “I don’t f*** with you” (much irony wow funny).
Because I don’t like ignorance. Rap can be poetry, full of rhyme, truth, and transcendence. The fact that a white kid from one of the least diverse schools (ME) can connect on such a level to the music suggests that it appeals to so much more than “gang-bangers” and misogynists.
For example, my all time favorite album of music (and I love a lot of music) is The Warm Up by J. Cole. The album is relatively obscure, it helped J. Cole to sign a record deal, but unless you follow his music you would never know it existed.
The album is a story of struggle and redemption. The album opens with a spoken word poem about wanting something in the face of adversity, fighting through doubt to keep the desire alive. I don’t know if this is common knowledge or not, but I am currently not an aspiring rapper. I found the message of these songs to be incredibly transcendent, for example it was that spoken word poem that I listened to before we won the lacrosse state championship to get focused.
Another example of this is Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp a Butterfly. Kendrick’s first album was insanely commercially successful, but the topics were adolescence and fighting against the pressure of crime and the cycle of poverty. To Pimp a Butterfly is even more philosophical, touching on race issue and depression. My favorite track on the album is one that will never hear any radio time, “u.” This song is an emotional plea, to himself and the world discussing how “loving you is complicated” a topic that not many rappers admit to. The pain in Kendrick’s voice is so clear as he almost cries over the track talking about all of those he feels he has betrayed and his perceived shortcomings. I love this track for it’s honesty. So many people who have found fame brag about the all the good stuff, but often leave off the negative side effects. Kendrick doesn’t shy away from honesty and that is what makes his rap art. His work is poetry because he puts his heart and soul into the songs and it shows if you just are willing to set aside prejudice to give it a listen.