How Valuable is Rap Music as a Genre

rap essay

# Point of view

Too many people see rap music through the glasses of stereotype. The stereotype which consists of curses, gangsters, disrespectful behavior, drugs (especially nowadays) and illegal lifestyle. Unfortunately, this is true that these aspects are observable in the mainstream more and more often, even not only in rap music. It is all about a controversy in the industry which makes people pay attention to it, and then of course industry is getting paid. If You look at it from a wider perspective, then you would notice that controversy in the whole show-business is omnipresent. It is perfectly understandable that for some people some norms deviation are not acceptable but what if we asked ourselves one question? Do we always behave according to social standards? Everything can be used in the wrong way, but we should be not afraid of our language as every word has its own meaning. Moreover, what if those wrongs are being used for a higher purpose?

# Wordplays

The very first aspect worth mentioning is wordplay that consists mostly of double entendres. This is also one of the reasons why some impolite words can be used while creating lyrics. It is all about fun, and adults should not be ashamed of using them. These words are used to enforce the meaning of some statement or simply for entertainment. One of multi-talented actor, lyricist, singer, and rapper Childish Gambino is not ashamed to be impolitely direct in his rap song, and writes a verse like this: „I love pussy, I love bitches, dude I should be running PETA”. [^1] This is only one line that is why there are no rhymes. This example is not quite subtle, but perfect to explain how words can be interpreted in different ways. Word pussy can be interpreted as a female sexual organ or a pussycat. Both meanings are informal. The second word is bitches, which can be understood as a female that is having sex for money, or what is crucial, it can be understood as dog’s female. Childish Gambino loves both so much that he claims that he should be a founder or head of PETA that is an acronym of the organization named People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. This acronym is the key that forces us to understand words explained above as normal ones. Another wordplay that comes to my mind is something that I call a moveable words. The perfect and the simplest example of it is written by Lil Wayne, who raps: „I think you stand under me if You don’t understand me.”[^2] It is only one proof of his master level of writing lyrics, but a lot of listeners are deterred to his creation because of his irritating voice. The mentioned line shows that one word divided into two can have a slightly different meaning. I cannot forget about a literary device known as homophones. The English language is flexible enough to make it possible to use it slightly more frequent than in the Polish language. In some cases, pronunciation can be a bit adapted in order to make the particular word rhyme with others or to be similar when it comes to pronunciation. Lines that I would like to use as an example again belong to Childish Gambino, who rhymes: „Forget these white girls, I need some variation, especially if she very Asian”. Variation and very Asian have exactly the same phonological description despite very Asian are two words connected. As we can see in the Oxford dictionary: Variation – /ˌveriˈeɪʃn/.[^3] Next word is: very – /ˈveri/.[^4] Word connected to very is: Asian – /ˈeɪʃn/.[^5] It fits perfectly and is kind of mind-blowing, the same as the construction of multiple rhymes is some of the creations.

# Multiple rhymes

Rhymes are the inherent element of the described genre, as the fundaments of this music are made from lyrics. The way how the words are merged to achieve the desired effect of double, triple or even multiple rhymes, can be different from a normal set of a sentence. I always count rhymes by syllables, not words. For instance, if
a two-syllable word, rhymes with another two syllable word, then this is a double rhyme. Listening to a new song of Logic, we can hear a great verse of YBN Cordae who raps extremely honestly and do not avoid hard facts about his life. He created lines in which multiple rhymes reveal a frightening contrast in his life:

> „Look at all the fame and the fortune, the pain and extortion,
> The range and the Porches, the same, but it’s gorgeous
> Mama called me, said your name on the Forbes list
> Thank God your daddy never paid for abortion”[^6]

Poems are way easier to analyze how rhymes are placed in lines. Lines above do not have anything in common with ABAB scheme, that we all were taught in high-school.

# Content and Impact

Despite many controversies, rap music has had a huge impact on the whole industry lately. In 2018 happened something special for rapper Drake from Canada. As music editor Ben Beaumont-Thomas provided in the Guardian „Drake has beaten a US chart record that was set by The Beatles in 1964, becoming the artist with the most top 10 hits in a year.”[^7] The game has changed since then. Rap is mixed with every possible genre you might have ever heard. Pop, jazz, rock, metal, Latino, even dubstep or techno. It is mostly possible because of the fact that every kind of music might have needed some lyrical content, and that is the point. Back in the days rap was seen, like a puzzle from a different box. Now many artists see the potential and value in the professional lyricism not necessarily taught in school. Again back in the days rap lyrics were strictly focused on the narrow range of topics, and through many years this range was being widened making it possible to adopt topic to a particular music genre that it might have been mixed with.

# Summary

Word is an extremely powerful device, tool or even a weapon. Word is a fundament of music genre that in my opinion shows that nowadays we still have poets. From my point of view, the creations of poets from any period of time have a lot in common with nowadays rap lyrics. Both raise difficult subjects from personal or not personal life. Both are not afraid of using the full spectrum of words, and expressions. Both cross the borders in many surfaces of human life. From an artists point of view, it might be a cure for an overdosed head. The way out of tiring thoughts. Finally, from the listener’s point of view, it might be a feeling of connection with the artist, especially if somebody finds a part of him or herself in a song. How valuable is rap music as a genre? It is valuable as much as a particular listener want it to be for him.

[^1]: Donald Glover. „Childish Gambino – Bonfire (Official Music Video).” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL1B\_r9nC9k](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL1B_r9nC9k) (1 Nov. 2011)

[^2]: Lil Wayne. „Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot (Explicit) ft. Cory Gunz.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7tOAGY59uQ](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7tOAGY59uQ) (10 Mar. 2011)

[^3]: Variation. (n.d.) In Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English. Retrieved from [https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/academic/variation](https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/academic/variation)

[^4]: Very. (n.d.) In Oxford Learner’s Dictionary of Academic English. Retrived from [https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/academic/very1](https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/academic/very1)

[^5]: Asian. (n.d.) In Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Retrived from [https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/asian\_1](https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/asian_1)

[^6]: YBN Cordae, Lyrics to “Mama.” Genius, 2019, https://genius.com/Logic-mama-show-love-lyrics

[^7]: Ben Beaumont-Thomas. „Drake beats the Beatles’ 1964 record for most US Top 10 hits in a year”. [https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/oct/23/drake-beats-the-beatles-1964-record-for-most-us-top-10-hits-in-a-year](https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/oct/23/drake-beats-the-beatles-1964-record-for-most-us-top-10-hits-in-a-year) (23 Oct. 2018)

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