Friday, May 1, 2009

Why is your favorite rapper your favorite rapper?

One of the many things that I was picked on for as a child was my music selection. For some reason, my classmates frowned upon the fact that I would rather listen to a song by Guns N’ Roses than a song about guns sung by guys who are really sweeter than roses. Now don’t get me wrong, I always have and always will have a special place in my heart reserved for hip-hop, I just have a fondness for other genres as well. I purchased my first Linkin Park album[1] at the age of 11, and it really didn’t do wonders for my popularity at the time. I was already being described as “gay” and “a wanna-be white boy” due to the fact that I was part of the elite few in my elementary school who actually cared about learning[2] By 2003 I had expanded my collection to the likes of Gorillaz, All-American Rejects, and N*E*R*D, and had grown tired of people vicariously living a life that wasn’t even theirs through mediocre songs.

I was beginning to think that I would never be able to enjoy the amazing beats and potential of modern day hip-hop and the positive relatable messages of alternative rock. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a musical white knight of sorts appeared on Rap City. This video was raw. It was powerful. It was positive. It was real. It was “Through the Wire” by Kanye West. It was four and a half minutes of a man pouring his soul into an equally soulful beats, describing not only his pain and tragedy, but also his prosper and triumph. I knew that only a person with infinite passion for music like me would be openly willing to put themselves through excruciating pain in order to get their message heard. Maybe it was a fluke, maybe he’s just a one hit wonder, maybe not.

In the months to come he would prove that he was not one trick pony with the release of singles like “All Falls Down”, “Slow Jamz”, “New Workout Plan”, and of course the inspirational and innovative “Jesus Walks”. Notice anything about the five aforementioned songs? I do. Since his debut classic[3] album in February of 2004, Kanye West has never released a single with the same subject matter as the previous. He has managed to produce an illustrious career without conforming to the normal formula for the common rap album, such as:

The Song for the B***hes
The Song for the Street/Dumb N****s
The Song for the Smart N****s
The Song for the Club
The Song for the Radio/Ringtone/Mainstream America[4]

After a much publicized feud with fellow hip-hop heavyweight 50 Cent in 2007, Kanye West proved once and for all that good music with strong, positive, and relatable messages can prevail in an industry where violence, promiscuous behavior, and the glorification (for lack of better terms) of complete bullshit. The music that I listen to is not determined by the color of my skin, their lyrical prowess or how much money the artist made last year. The music that I listen to is determined by how much I relate to an artists message. It doesn’t matter if it’s the unending double-entendres of the likes of Lupe Fiasco, the soft crooning of Maroon 5, or alternative rock anthems of Gym Class Heroes. If the music is made from the heart, I will most likely love it.

…and that’s why Kanye West is my favorite rapper…

[1]-”Meteora was nice, but I bought Hybrid Theory twice”-Lupe Fiasco
[2]-Any intelligent African-American male who attended an inner city public school can tell you
what I’m talking about
[3]-”What Makes a Classic Album” coming soon.
[4]-I put slashes in between some of them because usually they go hand in hand


kmx | Araika Eanomi. said...

I loved this post. & I know how you feel when people learn of your music interests and give you looks, I get that when I let ppl listen to my ipod. But their all hooked on that sex/drug/money stuff while I can learn about myself & the world I live in through stuff I listen to. Music is extremely influential no matter what you listen to. Oh and I lurve Maroon 5. Haven't heard much from the All American Rejects. But it's good to have an eclectic range of music interest...that's why you're so dope!! :p

Tommy Oliver said...

people are so afraid to open up their minds up to new/different things.
Maroon 5 is my "female-stress related" soundtrack

Ashley Nicole said...

I appreciate this post for numerous reasons.
1. I never really listened to main stream hiphop. If it wasn't someone who was actually making a point about something, it got turned off and never played again. I don't have time to listen to 'Do the Ricky Bobby' and all of those 'Bama ass songs telling me what dance to do. I don't have time to listen to people talking about how many cars they have..because I dont have not ONE..fxck am I listening to this for?[lol]
I appreciate other Genres. I do listen to alot of R&B and soulful songs, but Im starting to realize how wonderful pop and rock songs are. They spill their hearts out in songs, and people just think its screaming [-_-].
&Ive always been a big N.E.R.D fan. Jay-Z is my favorite. Kanye is an animal.
2. I went to Catholic school from k-8th. My 9th grade year my mother decided to put me in a public school. In that school they do not appreciate a hard worker. When work is not given to me, I make my own. I try to keep my hands busy. I do not go to school to just sit. People look at me funny because I keep an A average and I still do makeup work. I hate that I can't seem to try to succeed without my own people trying to pull me down.

ANYWAY to wrap this ish up.

The end =]

kmx | Araika Eanomi. said...

Yeah their last single before the one w/ rihanna went hard can't think of the name.

Maddie said...

I know u know that this was right up my When I was younger, I live in upstate NY. For about five years I bounced back & forth between Florida & New York. And I can't tell how many times, I was called a white girl because of my NY accent. But I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that was not predominately black. I had white friends, black friends, asian friends, etc. etc. But what's funny is my love for different genres of music came from my sister. You guys might be too young to remember but my first fav alternative song was What's Up by 4 non blondes. You cannot truly appreciate music or anything else, if you stick yourself in a box. I would have to say that Common is my favorite rapper of all time. Back when he was called Common Sense, he put his words together in a way that made you stop and listen. I Used to love H.E.R. left me speechless even Retrospect for Life ft. Lauryn Hill was a song that you could vibe to, but it sent a most important message.

audrey. said...

I don't even necessarily have a favorite rapper, in he same instance as you, I like whatever music I can relate to that comes from the heart. Real music is hard to actually find lately because so many people do the same shit.

Whatever, though. I like what I like. :) Nice post, T.O.

Vlad said...

Kanye is def my favorie Rapper too!

Tommy Oliver said...

lmao @ "do the ricky bobby"
thats a real dance?

AYO! stephie said...

I love this...

My favorite rapper, hands down, is Drake. People been sleeping on dude 'til Wayne started fuckin w| him. I been on his shit for 2+ years & I can't relate to EVERYTHING, but I feel the music come through.

I'm not gonna lie, I listen to that ignorant ass shit - bang bang, skeet skeet - 'cos of the KRUNK factor... not a good excuse but I can admit it lol.

Ricky Bobby, Act A Ass, Rack Daddy, My Dougie, Pepper Step... AHHHH, I can go on forever & a day w| all these damn dances LOL.

ight, I'm done (:

Frankie Nichelle said...

I like hip hop, but I hate rap and there IS a difference. 92% of what's being played is garbage.
I know how you feel about being looked at sideways because of the type of music you enjoy. I love salsa. it's my favorite genre and I've been listening to it since I was born, but when you're black and you live in a predominately black neighborhood, people think you're crazy. they're so ignorant and don't even look at the fact that alot of salsa musicians have black skin and that the genre started with OUR people.

anyway, this was a good read.