Saturday, 16 October 2004

Beats and rhymes

A running theme of this blog is attacking false idealisations. So I like the point made at hiphopmusic.com that you shouldn't judge hip-hop just by the "social consciousness" of its lyrics. As Jay Smooth points out, hip-hop is about beats and rhymes, and to say its merit derives solely from how socially-conscious its lyrics are is patronising to the entire genre. After all, no one "justifies" rock. There's Bob Dylan's social messages and Aerosmith's paeans to the charms of nubile women, and they both can fit under the category of good rock music. Music can be a vehicle for polemics, but to insist that it is forgets that music has its own inherent qualities. (Incidentally, writing this post made me think of the the virulent response to Dylan going electric.)

I suppose context is important... if you don't ever hear hip-hop in the context of a block party, club, and similar situations, do you end up just thinking of hip-hop purely as some form of protest-song medium?




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