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But What about middle aged black guys?

February 27, 2007

Former fellow Scene’ster Noel Murray gets involved in an interesting discussion at his new gig at The Onion’s AV Club about whether Hip Hop is Relevant to Middle Aged White Guys. I remember Noel making some similar arguments in last years PITW post about the Pazz Jop poll vis a vis some rap acts dominance. He and Nathan, along with many of the commenters single out the misogyny/crass commercialism as one of the reasons that perhaps middle aged white guys don’t find rap relevant.

One reason I dig my hair metal comparison is that it doesn’t make pop rap out to be some kind of Frankenstein’s Monster. There’s nothing particularly unusual or shocking about the appeal of the artist’s these two critics pick out as violators of the Sacred Domain of All Music That is Holy. There is precident, and it goes back a LONG way. People who produce, promote, and create rap music just stumbled upon a formula that sells.

I understand all the hand wringing among the Bourgesoise. Within the Black Community the issue is bigger than what sells. People see this as a battle over their children’s souls, and I don’t think that’s overstating things a bit. I don’t really get it from those who perhaps don’t have as much at stake. The criticism of rap as a genre, as stated in the Crosstalk, are equally applicable to popular music across the board.

There’s plenty of reasons to be disgruntled with current pop-hop, as you all know I am. Mos Def’s new “Fake Bonanza” says about all I’d like to say about it.

A point, Noel. He says:
I should clarify that I’m mainly talking about the mainstream when I mention self-aggrandizement. I understand that there’s a big world of underground and alternative hip-hop with distinctive personalities, and while rapid burnout and word-heaviness is still a problem with the alt-crowd, they shouldn’t be blamed for the rampant egotism in the genre.

You’re right, the alt-crowd shouldn’t be blamed. Kool Herc has to shoulder responsibility. Rap is like basketball in that it’s an ego game. Every MC big-ups themselves several times on a record from Mos Def to Edan. Edan, who is as alt as they come, completely understands that this is a part of rap music. Maybe they don’t talk about how much money they have, yet they do engage in the kind of self-aggrandizement you talk about.

Another:
The “insanely collaborative nature” of rap music is really a creature of the producer age, not of the genre. When rap was more about crews rather than stars, before it became insanely profitable, the DJ provided the beats, and thus the character of the record. Guest appearances were reserved for bundles of like minded artists. Now, like modern pop, we place so much emphasis on star producers (Diddy’s fault I think, though if you think about it Prince Paul was ahead of him in being a star producer) and you have these relatively few guys with track records for making lots of money for record companies and well we all want to get rich of course. Guest shots are a way to get your artist noticed. In a way, it’s neither a strength or a detriment, just a fact. OTOH, that fact contributes to a kind of “sameness” in the music. Still, only a few get access to the star producers, so with the glut of artists there’s still a wide variety of sounds . . . you might have to dig a little. That’s what the Internet is for 🙂

-a middle aged Black guy

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2007 8:08 am

    Mark, our readers and Nathan had a lot of good suggestions in the crosstalk comments, and I’m considering doing a blog project where I try out a new hip-hop record a week. I’m overwhelmed with writing assignments and music reviews already, but I still think it’s worth trying.

  2. February 28, 2007 12:09 pm

    good to know, Noel, and nice to hear from you.

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