Feb 23, 2008
Opiate of the Masses.
Hey guys, I know I promised what I was gonna write about next. Truth be told, I think that might hold me back because both those entries will take some doing, and I just had a thought I think I have to share. So bear with me for a while, I'll talk about Ike and Grant and Wale eventually, but I had a bit of a philosophical thought on rap. So don't be too disappointed.

A good hip hop beat is the most democratic kind of music there is. A lot of us internet types, I think, tend to be very gung-ho about this democracy thing politically and a bit meritocratic musically. That hip hop songs are the ones that get stuck inside your head so often says something about their universal appeal. They're able to appeal to the lowest common denominator without being a total void. I find that hip hop tends to be a lot more accessible - a good, periodic beat or a clever play on words can latch to your brain faster than the most intricate of melodies. And that might be where a little of the pretentiousness comes from, that because hip hop, with its catchphrases, cross-referencing, signatures (by which I mean when a rapper says his own name, the most iconic of which starts with "One, two, three and to the four") appeals to our basest instincts - repetition and familiarity - it's somehow less worthy. But I think a rapper's job is to catch you and keep you, and that's where the biggest talents really show off. The best kind of hip hop song catches you, and might appeal to the casual listener who only needs one anchor point to latch onto, but offers something substantial to a more pretentious listener as well. Now, if only people weren't so up their asses with "Everything except rap and country!" and could realize that the catching is an important part.

Also, I think hip hop is more substantial because they're saying what they mean instead of what sounds good. This whole post might just be me romanticizing the genre, but my view of rap is that it's easy for anyone to access and feels so inclusive, and that my old stronghold of indie rock is getting more pretentious and elitist by the day. A lot of that indie rock culture is just a series of pats on the back, reminding us that we're so cultured to be able to dig this, that we're so much less bound by the conglomerations telling us what to listen to. We don't associate with the lesser folks, oh no. Not good enough.

Am I really the only one who is just constantly impressed at how good rappers are at writing? I can write obtuse lyrics for some song any day, but I'm not sure I could ever write a passable rap. Nothing's more intellectually stimulating to me, aurally, and yet I don't feel like it would go over any of my friends' heads. Perhaps under it, with their sneers, but never over it.