Music I Hate: Rap and HipHop, Country and Heavy Metal.
in quite a few of the chicago-area PlanetOut profiles of certain gay men in their thirties, i find that rap and hiphop are frequently singled out as the Music They Hate. interestingly enough, country and heavy metal are often cited alongside this genre. sometimes i wonder what is left, the safe confines of pop and the reassuring sounds of corporate rock? pop and rock have become so homogenic that it's hard to tell one artist from another. blink 182 might as well be sum 41. staind, incubus and creed sound so similar, sometimes i confuse them.
3 of the top ten best selling albums in Billboard magazine are hiphop. hiphop today is a genre of music that is like rock and roll in the sixties. it is the music of youth culture. while rock is still predominantly white, hiphop is multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. a lot of people who say that they don't like hiphop and rap are starting to sound like my grandfather who said that rock and roll was "noise." the same arguments are used in both genres, that it's "not really music" or that it's "just noise" or that "you can't understand it." a lot of gay folk also say that it's homophobic. i agree that quite a few rap artists are homophic, but i would also argue that at lot of rock and roll artists are homophobic as well, that's no reason to hate a genre.
hiphop influences all kinds of music. pop acts like nsync, britney spears, limp bizkit, cake, U2, and others references or borrow heavily from hiphop--it's inescapable. traditional hiphop artists like mary j blige, faith evans or even TLC have crossed over to the mainstream that it's hard to categorize any artist as a pure hiphop artist.
i like rap. i find it funny, poetic, sexy, infectious and exciting. i think that the best rap songs combine an infectious beat with a distinctive rapping style and poetic imagery. i think that the fugees particularly lauryn hill and wyclef jean has shown that rap can be as uplifting as a gospel song or as lyrical as a folk song. i think sampling which came from rap has created a whole new set of musicians and gave rise to the DJ culture. i think sampling has added an extra dimension to music that can be used ironically, reverentially, or subversively. it has enriched our musical landscape.
i personally think that older people have a problem with hiphop because they don't understand it. its african american roots may have something to do with this. suburban middle class folk have no experience of the hiphop culture, they didn't grow up with it. it existed outside their bubble. they probably grew up in white suburban towns with little ethnic diversity. they probably don't have very many ethnic minority friends. their dislike of rap or hiphop could possibly be rooted in subconscious racism. the youth of today is quite different. 70% of people who buy hiphop music are white suburbanites. it would not be unusual for a white kid to idolize jay-z or master p. younger gay men have started adding of female rappers like lil kim and lauryn hill to their roster of "divas".
country music and rap music share a lot of similarities: they can both be boastful, expositionary, angry, sexual, introspective, political, emotional. they both are deeply rooted in their subcultures almost to the point of saying that the subculture springs from the music, that the music is its lifeforce. the rhythms may be different, but the soul of the music is not unlike each other.
and who hasn't had the pleasure of thrashing about and throwing imaginary long hair around to a good heavy metal song?
i guess that for me, music continues to be a adventure, a peek into cultures that i have not experienced. to limit myself to the music of my milieu is to be stagnant and boring. music is like books, it offers a glimpse into the world of the artist, regardless of the genre. as one immortal artist has sung: music makes the people come together.