Is Rap a valid musical form?


This has been way more than the progression away from tubes to SS!

Believe the world of Hip Hop has been around and evolving for around 5 decades.

And for most of that time I have dismissed and avoided that world and its “music”.

So angry, offensive and abrasive. Just a bunch of rhythmic yelling.

I believe my former thread was titled “Why Rap?”.  Through that discussion and somewhat of an understanding that this must be a new art form that engages and entertains millions if not billions. That and a long standing belief that if a type of music or a particular artist attracts many, many fans there must be substance and quality there. Even if I personally don’t particularly like it there must be something there.

Rap and the Hip Hop world was always so foreign and culturally untouchable.

Then my Rap thread and several others at that time got me rethinking my perspective and I watched a video of a group of student performance musicians at Juilliard all exclaiming their fascination with a Rap artist named Kendrick Lemar and his “masterpiece” “To Pimp a Butterfly”. I bought the double LP. Trying to listen to it turned out to be difficult because of my old view of Rap and that of the world of Hip Hop. But it was also becoming clear that this was truly something of significant interest. However, I just listened to the two discs only once-with some difficulty.

Today, after several weeks, I hesitatingly pulled the album out again. And to my surprise and actually delight hearing it with fresh ears it grabbed me and would not let go. I immediately heard the brilliance of a multi faceted, and to me, all new experience in sound. Not unlike great 20th century or progressive Jazz it evolved from section to section with a plethora of fascinating, yes musical, experiences. Tonal, atonal, percussive, rhythmic, breathing combined with incredible, energetic tongue twisting strings of mostly unintelligible words. And not merely angry yelling.

Sure, a ton of F bombs but words that don’t flow over you like lovely other genres but invade the psyche and don’t let go. Not particularly pleasant but gripping and interesting in its complexity. Words delivered with such power and drive which acted as a rhythmic counterpoint. It was impossible to turn away or turn off. 
And speaking of turned off, the experience was the opposite of that. Stories of life undeniable human. Yes, driven by bitterness, anger and raw emotion. Impossible to  dismiss it as not deeply felt.

I do think “To Pimp a Butterfly” is unique. But I also believe that there must be much more in this Hip Hop world that has deep musical interest. Some time ago I heard Drake on SNL perform a song that was amazing though not really Rap. Rather an advanced and unconventional musical form. I hear similar musical threads throughout “Pimp”. I did get a CD of Drake. “Scorpion”. I also could not absorb it in my first listen. I look forward to the next, fresh listen. I did try to hear several YouTubes of some very successful Rap artists. They mostly lacked the interesting musical themes threaded through. “Pure Rap” with just the rhythmic words-not my cup of tea. But a musically valid form none the less.

 

 

mglik

@stuartk @larsman - the John Mayer reference could be qualified something like “as an objective/technical matter…”. Trust me, I listen to 100 songs by Jerry for every one by John Mayer (basically, his rendition of “Free Fallin”, which is actually good) (i regret ever bringing up the comparison🤦🏻)

Btw, have you ever read the article “Phish Has Been a Band for Thirty Years Now, and They Have Sucked the Whole Time”? Very funny, even if one is a fan

@stuartk re: above you’re a smart guy, you can do better than that in a conversation - we’re here to share ideas

I am 68. Have been a pro musician for most of my life. 
Thanks for the list of stuff to check out.

Listened to Drake “Scorpion” yesterday. Was disappointed. Especially after my incredible experience with Kendrick. It lacked the complex use of musical themes and sound design… for want of a better phrase. 
And the raw energy was missing. That held my interest and was sincerely emotional. This Drake left me feeling “so what?”.

Will check out the list.
 

@mglik - tell us what you think; I’d be really interested in how *you* hear the same pieces of music (and you might conclude that they all suck)

 

Addendum:

1) Kanye’s delivery is “eh” on that track. But the lyrics and overall structure are so different from what anyone else was doing at that time

3) That song has no melody or harmony. Just a voice, lyrics and beat. Ludacris appreciated by many because his voice is just so BIG

4) Also one of the all-time great stoner songs. You’ll get it when you hear it

5) Totally unconventional song structure; note the last two minutes of the song, where Biggie just flows for line after line after line, telling a story