Powerful Essays
Rap Music The following is an excerpt from Black Noise, a book written by Tricia Rose, that describes the importance and background of rap music in society. "Rap music brings together a tangle of some of the most complex social, cultural, and political issues in contemporary American society. Rap's contradictory articulations are not signs of absent intellectual clarity; they are a common feature of community and popular cultural dialogues that always offer more than one cultural, social, or political viewpoint. These unusually abundant polyvocal conversations seem irrational when they are severed from the social contexts where everyday struggles over resources, pleasures, and meanings take place. "Rap music is a black cultural expression that prioritizes black voices from the margins of urban America. Rap music is a form of rhymed storytelling accompanied by highly rhythmic, electronically based music. It began in the mid-1970s in the South Bronx in New York City as a part of hip hop, and African-American and Afro-Caribbean youth culture composed of graffiti, breakdancing, and rap music. From the outset, rap music has articulated the pleasures and problems of black urban life in contemporary America. Rappers speak with the voice of personal experience, taking on the identity of the observer or narrator. Male rappers often speak from the perspective of a young man who wants social status in a locally meaningful way. They rap about how to avoid gang pressures and still earn local respect, how to deal with the loss of several friends to gun fights and drug overdoses, and they tell grandiose and sometimes violent tales that are powered by male sexual power over women. Female rappers sometimes tell stories from the perspective of a young woman who is skeptical of male protestations of love or a girl who has been involved with a drug dealer and cannot sever herself from his dangerous life-style. Some raps speak to failure of black men to provide security and attack men where their manhood seems most vulnerable: the pocket. Some tales are one sister telling another to rid herself from the abuse of a lover. "Like all contemporary voices, the rapper's voice is imbedded in powerful and dominant technological, industrial, and ideological institutions. Rappers tell long, involved, and sometimes abstract stories with catchy and memorable phrases ... ... middle of paper ... ...e future of black culture in the postindustrial city and American culture in general. Its musical voice is achieved via the constant manipulation of high-tech equipment that will continue to have a profound effect on speech, writing, music, communication, and social relations as we approach the twenty-first century. "As Greg Tate warned, "hip hop might be bought and sold like gold, but the miners of its rich ore still represent a sleeping-giant constituency." Rappers and their young black constituency are the miners, they are the cultivators of communal artifacts, refining and developing the frameworks of alternative identities that draw on Afrodiasporic approaches to sound organization, rhyth, pleasures, style, and community. These cultivation processes are formally wedded to digital reproduction and life in an increasingly information-management-drivem society. Rap is a technologically sophisticated project in African-American recuperation and revision. African-American music and culture, inextricably tied to concrete historical and technological developments, have found yet another way to unnerve and simultaneously revitalize American culture" (183-185).