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.




Only one CD available for $34 that ships from Korea. Leenalchi. I bought it.

And there is something on EBay for $134. “The Tiger is Coming”. On YouTube.

Fantastic! Check it out…

There is one other video of them that is more pure Rap but still very interesting.

So far, I own two Rap albums. The Kendrick LP and Drake CD. The former is super interesting even with many Rap conventions. The latter is ok but does not have the creativeness of Kendrick. I imagine the Beastie Boys incorporate elements of Hard Rock of which I am not a fan. Will check out Eminem. 

Eminem raps with some attention to pitch although, so far, is boring.

Can’t generalize, but, so far, the Rap I have heard is pretty much the same.

It does seem that, for me, ones who pay close attention to pure musical/tonal elements are most interesting.


I gave All Falls Down a listen. My impression. OK, for a standard radio song, but still a monotonous four-chord progression. Now, I don't have a problem with some songs' musical simplicity. The Stones made a long career out of it and pretty much every pop song today, and most from the last 35 years, only seem to know one time signature and three chords. At least it isn't the "Boots and Cats" rhythm of so many hip-hop songs I was forced to endure in the past. But the talking (rapping) over the music is distracting. The background singing is decent though. I think the main problem is the talking is too fast and staccato, which is common in rap. Barry White could talk through a song and make it sound great.

So I figured I'd give a woman a shot and listened to Missy Elliot's The Rain. The same. A monotonous three-chord progression. At least the rapping was slower, so it didn't overpower everything else like the West song did.

One thing I noticed in the prevalence of YouTube music reactors is all the ones with a background in rap analyze rock songs from a lyrical perspective and mostly ignore the instruments. I couldn't tell you what the lyrics are to most of my favorite songs and I don't really care. I still don't know half of what Robert Plant is talking about in Stairway to Heaven, and it's my favorite song. It just isn't important. The vocals are just another instrument. I surmise that since rap's focus is the lyrics and it contains so little musical complexity, these people can't relate to the opposite. And I suppose that goes for me too. 

I take back what I said about Leenalchi. Heard the other cuts on their album.

Kind of like traditional Korean chanting/Rap. Blah. But Tiger is Coming is brilliant.

@jssmith check out Tyler the Creator's latest two albums Flowerboy and Igor, they might be more up your alley with how you described stairway.  He produced both albums entirely and is easily a top 10 most important artist this past decade

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Throw on Kids See Ghosts for a great Sonic display on your system. Also some classic Eric B and Rakim or De La Soul as another poster put out there.

I grew up on Kool Moe Dee, Rob base, OutKast, NAS, 2PAC, Biggie, Snoop, Dre and the list goes on. You could probably guess my age lol. 

I am not sure if those  two words can even be used in the same sentence. 

I'd thought this question got settled out awhile noted even in this forum.

The marketplace spoke, and with conviction.  You may not like 'contemporary sounds' of all/most/or none, but you're also free to ignore them....

...pull the sheets up, maybe they'll go away someday...*L* ;)

Meanwhile...I just got a memo from my spirit world....


...and mama knows best...*s* ;)


Not something I’d listen to, but much better. It seems my main problem is rap’s monotone talking. His singing isn’t impressive either. The chick on See You Again sounds decent. Get rid of the programmed synthetic bass, add some real or even programmed Superior Drummer to it, and put Cammie Gilbert’s vocals (check out the song The Banished Heart by Oceans of Slumber) over some of these songs and I’d probably listen.

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Take a listen to “Come Home” off of Anderson Paak’s Ventura album. If you don’t hear echoes of early 1970’s Philly soul evolved then so be it. Is it music, absolutely, 


Not all rap is enjoyable…nor is all rap exhibiting Juliard skills but that could be said for every genre right?

Obviously rap is music, as every musicologist (and almost anyone under forty) will agree. It's just silly to say otherwise. The songs have more than just rhythm; they have melody and harmony, although that's not usually their focus. Further, rapping itself deploys pitch. Indeed, human speech is a pitched language. (Ever visited Scotland?) And as anyone who has ever actually listened to rap knows, much rap is keenly aware of previous generations of music. MF Doom, for example, is known for his "chopped and screwed" jazz standards. In fact, there's an entire genre known as jazz rap. There is no argument to be had here; maybe there was thirty years ago but those days are gone forever, over a long time ago. (Steely Dan riffs appear in rap songs.)

A more interesting question to me is why so many folks out here are so narrow-minded in what they call "music." In another thread, many argue that the only "real" music is played on unamplified acoustic instruments. Say what? 

Why wouldn't we want to as inclusive as possible? Why not welcome all kinds of tastes to this board? Javanese gamelan? Sure! African drumming? Heck yeah. Noise metal? Sure. Why not open ourselves up a bit? 

@crouse99  I've like that since 1st exposure, like the beat and enjoy the expression. *G* 
And mama breaking the mood @ the end is a *L*

@jssmith , the best answer I can have is:

If you don't like what it is, you can Always 'roll your own'.....I've always seen rap as an 'update' on rhythmic poetry.  G.S. Heron in the 21st Century, and more of it.

Can't say that I'm down with all of the bits....but I also lack the Black experience of life in the US when most (along with an awful lot of other races....
-inc. white, which I think is BS when related to the bulk of 'us'- 
....that end up in cr*p jobs and live in cr*p housing) deal with on a daily basis.

I shouldn't have to fill in the blanks for you on that....😒

BTW...As a youngster in SoCA, I could see the smoke from the Compton fires, and hear the sirens.

To quote F. Zappa:
"I'm not black, but sometimes I wish I wasn't white..."

I look at the back of my hands....that's not white....It's Called Beige.

Albinos are white, and not outdoors a lot....if you suffer from vitiligo, you're patchy like a calico cat....not very pretty, and you'd rather stay indoors because people stare at you More.

There is only one race, and it's called Human.  (Note I've not mentioned  'humane'.)

Color is genetic, and is unavoidable...and merely serves to divide us,, for whatever frelling rationale we seek to apply.

YES, It's an Art/Music, and certainly VALID, regardless of the message.

Why don't y'all grow up.....?😒🤨

Note to our hosts: I'm not cursing per se, nor do I see myself as singling out any viewer/poster/'interested party' for a drubbing in print....I'm just generally annoyed about the whole issue and general perceptions of the matter at hand.

The rest of it is just the daily grind of the times...just like yours... ;) 

Yours, asvjerry

For the ones who are open minded please check out Guru. He was part of a two member rap group called Gang Starr. He went on his own and is the first to fuse rap music with jazz. His first album Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 had jazz greats like Roy Ayers and Donald Byrd. in most items of art & creativity, different forms and fusions arise....

Jazzmatazz to the search box, once I finished 'girding my loins' for our snow event....

"Everybody must get Snowed....."  (Sorry Bob, had to go there...*L*)

My personal favorite rap/hip hop group is Run The Jewels. Very melodic compared to most rap, and the lyrics are topical.

I’ll throw another name out there that’s been intertwined with rap music. Kamasi Washington, jazz saxophonist. You guys going down the rabbit hole now. Lol 


@sonic79 Run the Jewels, one of their best tracks feature DJ Premier the other half of Gang Starr. East coast rap is what I grew up on. 

Even farting is a valid musical form for those who like it

do you keep the windows open or closed?

"The marketplace spoke."

The marketplace operates on the lowest common denominator.

After listening to several of the suggestions here and elsewhere, including Kayne West, Missy Elliot, Tyler the Creater, Snoop Dog, Tupac Shakur, Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida and others (I chose the best-selling names to see what's considered the cream-of-the-crop), I feel I have a better understanding of the reason for the chasm.

I think the rap that really irritates those of us who hate rap is the type that doesn't have any "musical" talent. They don't use "real" instruments, everything is created by moving a mouse around a desktop, the beats are monotonous and simplistic and the talking is monotone and not "musical." Those are artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur, Tyler the Creater and Missy Elliot.

What I found after digging deeper is that there are actually "musical" rappers. I don't know what their whole catalog is like, but Flo Rida actually has musical songs, uses a lot of "real" instruments (or they're exceptionally well-sampled) and sometimes sings instead of talks. I even stumbled upon one Nicki Minaj song that was musical, but just one. So maybe like *pop, which I also dislike, there are a few decent songs.

Am I going to start "listening" to them? No. But I find them acceptable as background music.


* I watch Rick Beato's videos where he critiques the current pop charts. Recently he did the ten song-of-the-year Grammy nominees. All but a couple were pathetic three- or four-chord monotonous progressions with no time signature changes and no instrumental or vocal talent. And the couple that weren't were no better than background music. Most of the other chart-topping videos he does are universally unlistenable. I have to play some Dream Theater just to regain the brain cells I lost listening to them. Granted, pop has always generally sucked, but older pop at least had some songs that required talent.

Garcia asserted Rap is not music because it lacks two of the three essential qualities of music-- melody and harmony. In his view, rhythm (the third quality) alone does not constitute "music" and I agree.

Australian aboriginals used instruments not known to the rest of the world, by that definition their playing of instruments and their music is not actually music - yeah, I call "utter nonsense" on that limited view.

Rap is from the ghetto. They used what they had to tell a story. It’s not about having a full orchestra. It’s about the flow of vocals. To say rap is not music and to say all the talent is at a click of a button is ridiculous. There’s a lot of music you won’t catch me listening to but that doesn’t mean it’s not music. 

Comparison ...

1977 George Benson - The World Is A Ghetto

1996 Geto Boys - The World Is A Ghetto

The palate of rappers, music evolves gents ... flow with it ....

@asvjerry, I knew it was only a matter of time before you'd throw down some LL Cool J ;-)


Widen the definition perhaps. Symphony Sid coined the phrase vocalese during be-bop. Is the sound of tap dancing music? How about a tonal “classical music”. Here are three great definitions of rap in a wider definition for me:

Subterranean Homesick Blues" 
Bob Dylan :
Johnny's in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I'm on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in a trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he's got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off…..

King Pleasure
Parker’s Mood:
Come with me,
If you want to go to Kansas City…
I’m feeling lowdown and blue,
My heart’s full of sorrow.
Don’t hardly know what to do.
Where will I be tomorrow?….

The Beatitudes

3Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the Earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be satisfied.
7Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy…..

I grew up on rap as teenager in the 90’s. Now in my 40’s, I find myself stuck on Tom Petty and classic rock lol. Something we never listened to growing up. My parents listened to salsa music which most kids that I know didn’t listen to their parents music. When I started my career in aviation I found myself surrounded by guys 20 years older than me and the shop radio stuck on classic rock 24/7. I hated it lol. It took a very long time for me to actually listen and give it a chance. We’re talking about years and years as I wouldn’t give in even if it sounded a little ok. But something in my mind clicked. I started learning that a lot of the rap songs I loved had beats sampled from classic rock songs. It was crazy to learn that. The best thing that could happen was me being open minded and wanting to learn more about music as I was depriving myself by being stuck on one genre. As my journey as an audiophile grew my listening palate grew to jazz music, country music, and now classical music. Just like I don’t like all rap music the same holds for these other genres. So I understand how difficult it is to start listening to different music to what you grew up on. Even the rap music being put out today is completely different to what I grew up on. With that being said I favor my generation of rap to what’s being put out now. If you go into it with an open mind and a willingness to learn something completely different you may find yourself enjoying something you never thought in your wildest dreams you would. 

Congrats to the OP for being open enough to discover something new. That’s the point of the journey. If you liked Kendrick, there are dozens of artists and hundreds of albums guaranteed to pique your interest if you take the time to search. I’ve been where you were and had friends kind enough to tolerate my narrow-mindedness and patient enough to slowly introduce me to hip hop to the extent that I will now happily swap a hip hop record in right after a bout of classical and vice versa. Much of that change comes from educating myself on the history of the genre, the same way jazz history adds so much depth to the exploration of jazz.

These kinds of threads are always entertaining in the worst way because invariably you start to wonder, are some of these people cycling through the same 3 records on thousands of dollars worth of gear? Hilarious. Explore a little. Get out of your western-centric mindset for a minute and challenge yourself to appreciate a sound that might be new to you but is natural to someone else. Don’t use your age as an excuse - plenty of neuroscience out there to prove that you keep your mind sharp by exposing it to novelty. And for godsakes, let go of tired, reductive arguments about what music is and is not. All the great musical innovation in history was built on someone questioning the established definition of music.

Just checked 2Pac… disappointed. I see that he sold 75 million records worldwide.

Surely, can’t really hear what an artist is like only hearing a few minutes of 1 song.

But in checking out recommendations of ones to hear, none have the creative progression of Kendrick Lamar. I understand that the world of Hip Hop is vast.

Please give me a list of some artist/song suggestions that are truly sophisticated and interesting. The monotone raps just don’t do it for me. Especially when they don’t particularly pay attention to the musical threads. That is, incorporating the rap into the overall soundscape.

....and dat's th' truoth, youth....(lisp rap) heard it hear, firsth... ;)

@dabel ...y'all had it comin' to ya', atcha', in your face, space, interfaced & interlaced....😏😁
(The sharp and lit amongst may have noticed a thematic 'twin' shared by 'Knock You Out' & 'Nobody Speak'...

Both start within & without of a ring...the 2nd a spoof of Dr. Strangelove, better lit?

The opening 'gestures', both lead to strife of their type.  But which violence do you prefer?

Both end with a 'take out the trash' downer, one for Debbie & one for ma...

@sonic79 ...and Thank You for that....*G*  I'm in need of a 'loud fix' on a snow isolation sort of daze... ; )

and @rixthetrick...and they're getting to look a bit better while doing just that... ;)

I, and I'll assume that a number of us have had the 'mixed mas of music' absorbed in our lifeform spans...

I know I have...survived them all, so far ("...Death Metal doesn't stop him!  Nothing!  He finds 'beauty' in the chirping of a modem!  We're doomed....and confused..."

All genres have their peaks and valleys.
Just because I like to clip the hillsides at very high BPM rates and bass boosted up 'nuff to dust the woofer cones doesn't make monstrous....much..... 😏


Appreciate your post but have no idea of what you are saying.

Can you reiterate in more a more understandable manner?

I am sincerely interested in what you are trying to say.

@mglik , you might take a look at MF DOOM's album called "Madvillainy." A relatively easy introduction to that masterpiece is the song "All Caps." It's splendid, smart, and poignant. And it's very short to boot! It's also self-evidently music. You might even recognize some of the songs that he's sampling.

If you want to gets a sense of his "sophistication," you might look at the long piece in the New Yorker by Ta-Nahesi Coates ("The Mask of Doom") or the "Appraisal" in the New York Times following his death about a year ago. It's not hard to find laudatory, insightful commentary on his work.

@mglik , you’re not the 1st to query that... ;)

@dabel can’t have the flashlight, I know what he’d end up looking at instead of the Mad mag....or Hustler....*tsk* ;)...

@rixthetrick had commented ’elsewhere’ on my Walsh project diy speakers...and Yes, they like rap, along with most else. A process in progress...*s*

@sonic79 just dropped a dime in my ears as to more I’d like to hear.
I just enjoyed the juxtapositions betwixt Knock You Out vs. Nobody Speak.

Followed by a vague rant by yours unruly as to why I listen to nearly anything at least once. Sieve and repeat as needed.. ;)

Some play at, coups, go through the alphabet.

I play with English and speakers, the latter in a personal way beyond the box.

So, there.... *G*


...saw a variation on the ’escape’ in John Wick #1, regarding recurring themes...;)