Monday, April 12, 2010

The Instrument of Language Itself

More new thoughts about rap, namely gangster rap. Having a very narrow, very primal message and then, basically riffing on that same message over and over with every album and every song leaves the variable to everything but the message. It might be sort of the same relationship between classical music and jazz.

Lets say classical is all about the ingeniousness of the composer and jazz is all about the ingeniousness of the performer. The job of the composer is to create a masterpiece. The classical performer must do the masterpiece justice. It might be a professionally trained performer or a small child learning violin or some schmuck whistling it down the street. The focus is on the genius of the composer. Jazz is about the genius of the performer, the individual, riffing in his own unique way on some supposedly simple tune. Sure its nice if its a brilliant composition, but a brilliant performer can express himself through twinkle twinkle little star or happy birthday or anything. With classical, the message is what the composer has to say. With jazz, its what the performer has to say.

So now lets look at gangster rap, or gangsta rap. I'm not sure the proper way to write that and I feel like a tool even writing about it in such a fashion, but I don't give a flying fudge. The message is more or less the same in more or less every gangsta rap song, and I can tell you it right here, but the whole point is that words aren't enough to communicate an idea. I see the message as being something like, I'm a very dangerous and powerful person. I will kill you or hurt you badly and not even blink an eye. I can get any woman I please and I will treat them like property. I smoke weed and drink all the time. People are always out trying to kill me, but of course they can't. I might be leaving stuff out, but that's the gist of it. The rapper talks about himself. It can be very specific. I think the more specific the better. You don't wanna say I shoot people with a gun, you gotta talk about exactly what sort of gun it is, and you must be specific about all of your possessions, your cars and drugs and what not. I might be drifting off topic a little bit here. A point I am getting at is that if the message stays the same the variable is the word choice and the delivery and through that the rapper will express his own personal ego. The rhythm of the words is of utmost importance. Gangster rap turns language into an instrument. That sums up my thoughts on this pretty well. Scatting turns the voice into an instrument, but gangster rap turns language itself into an instrument. Well, I guess I could say hip hop in general, but I feel like gangster rap is a more pure device for of this, because I think the term "hip hop" allows for the rapper to have a message like in the singer songwriter tradition, but when this is taken out the words can be varied much more because the listener will know what you're getting at. He'll know your talking about your gun or your car or your weed...or maybe your dick.

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