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  • The Digital Verses Conventional Music Debate

    If your a musician, or perhaps even an avid music enthusiast no doubt at some stage you have either had, or overheard the digital verses conventional music debate, which of course despite having different nuances, generally boils down to...

Tag Archives: alternative music

Guns, Bitches & Philosophy

It's not entirely uncommon, amongst certain music circles and indeed the general public for there to be this misconception that rap, hip hop and electronic music is devoid of substance, emotion or evocative content and while this to some degree can be attributed to particularly successful artists within these genres who out of respect, shall remain nameless, are quite certainly not the best representation of the genres art form and have indeed made a name for themselves by quite literally espousing a world of hatred, violence and untoward activity all while never having lived those experiences themselves, there are an overwhelming amount of artists within these genres who not only bring a fresh breath of artistic content, but use these genres to express and entirely different style of artistic content.

This is because hip-hop and rap, can be whatever you want them to be, just like every other music genre, there are no pre-defined limitations set in place for what the sub-text of a piece must be about, the reason we see the common cultural and violent themes in the majority of the music is not because of what the genre sounds like, the way its produced, or even is developmental heritage, but just like every other music genre that exists has to do entirely with the artist or producer themselves.

But lets cut to the chase of the matter shall we? The majority have the impression that rap is about violence and gang warfare, and that if you go to the rap section of your favourite music store, or digital outlet, you will find hundreds of albums that exemplify this right? And equally so the argument could be made that by supporting this music, we support the background to it correct, not to mention the negative message it presents to society…

While some of these statements do have an element of truth to them, the fact of the matter is it all comes back to the word-smith writing the rap, not the genre itself, and if it is the case that individual may find themselves in less than socially acceptable activity, while that might be something one wants to consider when purchasing an album, this is not to say an entire genre relates to crime, and as for social implications, that comes down to the listeners psychology and how they interpret it.

For instance, when I go to the cinema and I watch the latest action movie, I don't walk out of the cinema thinking that is an accurate portrayal of reality, or an ideal course of conduct, I leave thinking that it was an excellent film (or not as the case may be sometimes) and appreciate it for what it was, a great piece of artistic fiction, perhaps with a message, a metaphor, or at times perhaps just mindless entertainment.

The same can be said for much of the context of the allegedly “overtly violent” rap music, now while I don't deny, as im sure many involved in the rap genre would agree, this does not mean the integrity of the artist is not in question, but if we are talking on the basis of the music itself, if the majority of us listen to a “hardcore” gangster rap album, personally at the end of it, I simply walk away thinking like I just listened to the equivalent of an action movie, or perhaps in some cases the term Mafia movie might be more appropriate, and then the next moment, perhaps I shall put on some Beethoven.

What I don't do, is then personify that as an accurate version of life, or conduct, and seek to strive out to conduct myself that way, if certain people do that, once again this is not by virtue of the the artists or genre itself, but rather has everything to do with the mind of the individual.

And this is where we reach the very grey area of the conversation, because unlike Mafia or Action movies, when you listen to such content, while there is no doubt a great deal of poetic license and showmanship involved, in the cases when the music is being written from a legitimate background, or inspired by a true story or version of events, that makes it all the more real, more real than any movie ever could be, and despite perhaps the negative or controversial issues discussed through these particularly aggressive styles of rap, and despite the background of events it may have been inspired by, there are at times a lot of strength to the words, and at times philosophical insights, messages of personal strength mixed in with what is clearly not the best conduct, socially or legally, and at that point, it comes down to the intelligence of the listener, using their own mind, to decipher what is clearly positive and inspirational, and dismiss what its clearly not.

By the same token, just like a movie director can write an excellent script, there is no reason why rappers who enjoy creating this style of music or similar, creating that excellent “energetic” vibe commonly associated with it, cannot do so in the same fictional sense as a writer.

But this is to simply discussing those very aggressive styles of music, what is most important to take into consideration, is that the genre of rap and hip-hop, need not be defined by these aggressive overtones, you can express strength without it having to resort to violence, you can express emotions without it having to be draped in a negative tapestry, and it is down to each and every artist within the genre, to review their own experiences or the fiction they wish to present, and consider what different angles they could take.

Certainly expressing whatever individual tonality presents itself, but the reality is, you can present strength through a position of nobility and positivity, and no this does not mean you need to be some flower pushover, it can be done through intelligence…

Rhythm and poetry is the genre, that poetry can be expressed in any manner, the negative is just the path of least resistance, the primordial, the bestial, but there is far greater expressive, emotional and inspirational strength that can be expressed through mind.  

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