I’ve always loved rap music and I don’t really know why.
It doesn’t speak to my experiences – especially before Drake made Toronto famous. But it has always resonated with me all the same.
For some reason, I didn’t make much of my musical taste until I started reading about aesthetics. You can’t read aesthetics – and properly understand it – without it having some affect on the way you interact with art.
I’ve read a lot of the short writings of Friedrich Schiller, Edmund Burke and people like that in school – took a really cool pre-Facist literature class last semester that featured works by these authors.
What these guys try to do is understand the effects of art on everyday life, of how art is considered in academia and how to analyze it properly. Usually, I don’t like this notion of telling others how to think because part of being a person is the ability to talk about things in your life. But there’s value to thinking about art and confusion, too, to that same thinking. Burke though used his writings to keep people down and so really deserves nothing but a passing mention. But the idea of aesthetics becomes highly valuable when you encounter a form of expression like rap music.
It’s so prevalent and so misunderstood. I still cringe at the idea that rap music makes people dangerous, that it causes people to make bad choices in life and to forgo a position in Society for a position in Infamy. None of this could be possible through rap music alone. Rap music did not make drugs, guns and government injustice line the streets of the neighbourhoods of those artists who’ve distilled their reality into rap. How could anyone be so asinine?
But why rap?
My parents listened to the music of their own youth in my childhood. I grew up listening to Depeche Mode, the BeeGees, Erasure and The Mommas and The Popppas. But then, around middle school, Tupac and Biggie came into my life.
I remember rapping along to ‘Juicy’ in science class and reflecting to ‘Dear Momma’ as a 13-year-old with my friend. We felt the lyrics, we felt the need to make our own mothers proud of us.
One of my favourite things about rap when I was a kid was the dedication to one’s mother. As someone who’s never really had a father in their life this ideal spoke immensely to me. Sure, I didn’t feel like I’d fail my mother by falling into a life of crime on the street, by going to jail or taking up drugs. But, I still knew what it meant to feel my mother’s disappointment and how pathetic it made me feel.
Perhaps, that’s it. That the feelings it engendered in me were felt to my core, rap has always made me feel this way. And I wonder, does Erasure do the same for my mum? Did my dad cry when he first heard ‘Black Dog’ or ‘American Woman’?
Who knows why this type of music has so beautifully distilled life in my opinion?
Who knows why my parents music reflected their existence so nicely?
I can guess but that would be defeating my point. My point is that is just does, and we should just accept that as a result. Somethings ought to be questioned, others things ought to be enjoyed.