Rap Research Group #1 Masculinity (Redux)

by December 5, 2010

Here are my notes from Rap Research Group #1.

Steel Sharpens Steel
Sam reminded us of Puffy’s influence on removing criticism – a requisite tool for creativity – from the hands of the Rap community. In a post Hate Me Now world, criticism became hate. If you don’t like my song you are no longer a critic that I must answer to but you are a hater that will be dismissed. Is the tradition of a peer review process now dead?

Raafi talked about his appreciation of the new wildly iterative production process in Hip-Hop. The technical capability to make and distribute songs with no A&R gate keepers. Songs that get feedback only after their release.

Algorithm Rap
Hank pointed out of the power of internet metrics and how for the first time our clicks may effect the creativity within Rap. If we repeatedly click to see car crashes (Antoine Dodson, 50 Tyson & Eli Porter) car crashes are what will be programmed on cable, signed by record companies and scientifically proven by Billboard’s Social 50 as the next new thing in Hip-Hop.

An Observation Of A Cultural Trend
A great deal of young Black male power in the U.S. of A has been sourced from from the front: Jump Off Our Jocks! / I Know That They Are On The Tip. / Who? My Dick!


In the 2000’s that area of attention has shifted to the rear: Pants On The Floor / Tight Sag / Skinny Jeans.

Tight Sag


Rappers Used To Harmonize And Carry Knives
We talked about Dart Adams’ idea of the over-emoization of rap as a natural backlash to 15 years of hyperbolic masculinity.

Some older artists creatively couch emotions within rhymes about crime (Jay, DMX). Some older artists counter sensitivity accusations by reclaiming violent ways (Outkast, De La Soul). Kanye bears witness and in his awkward manner expands on the theme. Cudi & Drake run with it.

muMs and others of the Rap Research Group identified Emo Rap as the death knell for Gangster Rap.

Rappers Need Rap Fathers
Reggie contextualized Lil B’s twitter comment to Kanye as an expression of a young man crying out for attention in a way that wouldn’t have happened if Lil B had a rap father to show him how to properly go after someone’s title.

We talked about Jay-Z being the only openly 40 year old, commercially successful rapper in a genre historically described as a young man’s game.

Can a young rapper have a rap father if older rappers disguise their age by writing songs with content frozen in youth and young manhood?

Has this killed the chance to grow a community that will sustain a Rap’s Rolling Stones World Tour?

One interesting public exchange between older rappers and younger rappers is in the criticism of their tight sag, fashion centered raps, auto tuned singing and web cam confessionals. But again this criticism would be different if it came from a mentor and not a competitor.

A Culture Becomes Cannibalized When Master Teachers Compete With Their Students For Power
Being the unapologetic purist at the table, I suggested that The Zulu Nation or The Temple of Hip-Hop be used as a centralized organizing body for Rap. The organization would be responsible for an archive of Rap culture but also teaches classes: Gangster Rap 251, East Coast Storytelling 101 and A Survey Of E-40 Slang. This organization would also rate the music of Rap artists, giving it a seal of approval.

Some at the table thought I was crazy but I maintain that a culture becomes cannibalized when master teachers compete with their students for power. Academia has tenure, Kung Fu has the Master Teachers, Hip-Hop is old enough to have its process and history institutionalized.

Golden Age / Golden Handcuffs
Ari brought up a great point of how clinging on to a notion of The Golden Age Of Hip-Hop as its pinnacle moment may have the same stifling effect that Wynton Marsalis’ 1990’s crusade for the Golden Age of Jazz had for a younger Jazz community. In his community of student Jazz musicians, Ari witnessed this take the enjoyment out of playing Jazz and turned students off to the idea of committing to Jazz as a profession.

Rap Research #2: December 15: Religion. Reverend Sekou – Is Hip-Hop Just a Euphemism for a New Religion? ~>http://bit.ly/rapresearch