Friday, October 7, 2011

RE: Peter "Rap/Hiphop: true music?"

Peter's latest blog talked about Rap/Hiphop and its relation to music and slam poetry. He ended with the questions:Is rap fully definable as music? If not, what parts of it are? Why? Does this idea apply to standard practices when dealing with aesthetics, or does it deal with a de-definition of art?

Rap is definitely definable as music it has melodies, harmonies, rhythm, and it is organized. Just like there are different styles of poets within a specific genre, there are different styles of hiphop artists. My personal favorite is KiD CuDi, who has a much more laid back style than most hiphop artists. His background beats aren't as repetitive, tend to be unique in some way which I can't exactly pin point, and have a colorful melodic contour. The language he uses also isn't vulgar like Lil' Wayne, Asher Roth, and many other rappers. Just like most songs of the early-mid 20th century to today, hiphop follows the pattern of: verse 1, bridge, chorus, verse 2, bridge chorus, etc. I cannot think of any reason why hiphop would not be considered music. In a recent post I asked why poetry was not considered music, and the reason is because the words are not drawn out and slurred together. I've been writing slam poetry for about five years now, and I completely agree, yes, rap is slam poetry put to music, but there is more to it than that. It flows with the music and limits the linguistic phrase to lasting as long as the rhythmic phrase. And also, the words are sung -- drawn out and slurred together. The cool thing about slam poetry is you create the rhythm and can change it when even you feel like it, you are not held within the confides of temporal phrasing. As for the applications of aesthetics, we do not need to re-define or "de-define" art. Although when looking at lyrical music, I think that language needs to be a consideration when observing aesthetic characteristics. The way things are worded in a song changes everything, especially sense our vocal chords are our biological instrument, and everything down to our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions of the world sprout from our knowledge and use of language. Have you ever heard a song and thought, "I'd like it so much more it it had better lyrics"? The words are what we take meaning from unlike programatic or orchestral music where it is open for interpretation. Hiphop especially is lyrically driven, its main characteristic is that it is fast speech over a rhythmic beat. If the lyrics do not make sense, it is not as aesthetically pleasing as when they do. So, we do not have to re-define what art is, but we have to add the variable of language into our aesthetic perception.

Question: What role do you think language plays in music? Would you say that, to the untrained ear, the lyrics are the most important factor to whether a song is aesthetically pleasing or not?