Music has always been a way to express yourself. Rap is a new musical form that combines the language of hip hop with American hip-hop music.
It gained popularity in the 1990s, but I will explain it in more detail below.
The standard example of rap music is called rapping. Rap is associated with young people.
In rap music, a person uses various words and phrases to express his or her emotions.
In rap music, rap songs usually refer to partying, drugs, girls, violence, sex, and hip-hop culture.
It’s important to note that rap songs aren’t intended to be used by children or for children, only for adults.
In this section, I’ll look at some rap songs that express different attitudes and emotions.
They’re called rap songs about becoming successful, famous, getting rich and famous, and becoming famous.
What does success mean to rap artists?
Success, in this context, is being successful in terms of money, success in terms of fame, and success in terms of having more people looking at you.
This is, perhaps, the most difficult form of success to attain: Success can only be described in a few general categories, but it is difficult to know exactly what makes for successful rap artists.
In the 1990s, it was generally considered that an artist had to be able to rap about his or her lifestyle.
Back in the 1990s, rappers were considered to be not much more than slaves to the streets (KRS-One 1991).
This was evidenced in the song “Bust A Move” by New York rap group Big Daddy Kane (1992), where the rappers are seen hustling on the streets:
Rap came under attack in the late 1990s.
Rappers were criticized for glorifying gang violence, over-exploitation of women, and victim-blaming, which, as discussed, was a major theme of 90s rap.
A turning point in this criticism came in 1996 when N.W.A.’s song “Fuck the Police” (1996) was banned from many radio stations, being deemed as “racist”.
Public perception of rap music changed.
These changes affected rap artists in the 1990s, but rappers have not been inactive. The current rap scene in New York is much different from the hip-hop scene of the 1990s.
Hip-hop artists have become successful in terms of money and fame. But success in the US doesn’t always translate well to other countries.
In Europe, rap artists (such as Yelawolf, Rizzle Kicks, and Kanye West) have achieved more success than their counterparts in the US.
Trends in New York rap
Kanye West has been cited as a hip-hop artist that has increased recognition and success for New York rappers.
In his song “Jesus Walks”, Kanye states:
- New York is the greatest city in the world
- There’s a reason I got my tattoos on my chest
- People come here to become the greatest
- But there’s a reason the rest of the world thinks we suck
This perspective is unique to Kanye and shows a distinct shift from the perspective of other rap artists.
West has also been successful with his opinions on racial issues
He criticizes the media, he criticizes the gun culture in America, and he criticizes people who make stereotypical assumptions about African Americans.
Kanye frequently emphasizes his success in the United States, while focusing on his willingness to criticize the United States.
Kanye’s career success has been compared to his idol, Michael Jordan. Kanye, while, unlike Jordan, has been able to receive success despite his outspoken views on race.
A letter written by Kanye to George Mason University’s newspaper defends his race-conscious views. In it, Kanye describes his anti-racist beliefs:
My racism is as much about my heritage as it is about any other Americans because I can’t find any in American hip-hop.
The mass majority of our black communities are high schools without middle schools, like broken computers or broken tailpipes.
The only racist thing is the system that runs it
My racism is directed toward those disenfranchised communities of course, but I don’t let that define my outlook.
Hip-hop has not contributed to the American Dream as I wanted it to, but that is not a reflection of rap’s ultimate goal.
Rap is just one narrative that comes from inner-city America, it’s not the only one, and I’m just one story.
I’m really hopeful though because the culture in Detroit has moved on from such rap and started writing art that supports their families.
They’ve got a culture that they are proud of, and that is what I want to create in this city and this country. I’m just waiting on the right artist to be the greatest of all time.
The change in perspectives from the 1990s to the present is striking.
Hip-hop culture has gone from entertainment for gang members to a major trend of New York culture.
Hip-hop artists are now well respected in their local communities and media. As I have discussed in the previous post, hip-hop is spreading outside the United States.
In short, mainstream hip-hop has changed drastically.