This week, for some reason, has been “I hate rap week”. Maybe it’s overload, or the knowledge that with every week there’s going to be another record in which: 1) mediocre rappers will brag about how much money they make, how much dope they smoke, and how much pussy they get; 2) Lil Wayne will become even more irrelevant. Whatever the case, the feeling has been overwhelming. There are a lot of promising young rappers out there (Kendrick Lamar; Danny Brown; A$AP Rocky; even Lil B if you sift through enough of his endless flood of mixtapes), and there are plenty of older rappers who are still making high quality stuff, but most of what makes the Hot 100 is repetitive, unimaginative, and mediocre.
As a middle-aged white guy, even one who’s been listening to and enjoying rap for over thirty years, I need to be careful how I say things. As my distaste for the current trends crept over me, I started to worry that I was too old to get this stuff anymore, that I was too distant from the culture to understand what was going on, that maybe even a touch of xenophobia was starting to rear its ugly head and inject itself into my opinions. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it couldn’t be true. Not because such a thing isn’t possible (we all have our prejudices, and they often change in ways we don’t anticipate), but because everything that I dislike about current rap is also what I dislike about current mainstream country. The endless parade of mediocre country boys that I mentioned in my last post is almost the exact equivalent to the mediocre rap talents who have flooded the charts over the last two years or so.
In other words, the trends that bother me so much aren’t based in race or location (urban vs. rural), or even in commercially reinforced stereotypes, they’re based on the culture of young men with too much money, too much time, too big an ego, too narrow a point of view, and not enough sense.
The only difference between the two, as far as I can see, is the language. So I’ve created a handy, somewhat tongue and cheek chart that you can use to translate between and compare the two genres. Let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if I’m suggesting equivalencies that don’t work. But I think this gets pretty close to the reality.
|My hood||My small town|
|My crib||My farm|
|Maybach||Pickup truck (Dodge, Ford, or Chevy)|
|Mercedes Benz||John Deere|
|Champagne||Bartles & James|
|Glock/9MM/AK-47/machine gun/shotgun||Hunting rifle/shotgun|
|Stripper||Honky tonk angel|
|Working the pole||Shaking on the tailgate|
|My boo||My beau|
|Pussy||Never heard of it|
|Never heard of it||Foreplay (hugging, kissing, running my hands through your hair, etc.)|
|Dick||Fishing pole/pickup truck/big green tractor|
|Flashing lights||Moon/Head lights|
|Colors||Flag (US or Confederate)|
|Black pride||American/country pride|
There’s always hope, though. Brad Paisley’s new single, “Southern Comfort Zone”, advises his country brethren to get out of their shell and see the rest of the world. It’s his best record since “American Saturday Night”. I just hope some of his peers pay attention. And if anybody knows of a rapper who does the same, send me a line.