This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
At the risk of sounding like a self-appointed rap policeman, I think that hip hop has a natural, unbreakable rhythm that makes it more enjoyable than just about any other art form. The idea of hip hop being an exercise in hyper-complexity is a bit of an oversimplification, especially given how easy it is to get up and run with a group of people in your area, especially when you don’t have an actual rhyme scheme in place. I can’t remember the last time a rapper had a decent song that could legitimately stand next to an opera, or for that matter a symphony and a dancefloor. If you ask the average hip hop head what it is about hip hop he most loves, it probably won’t be the fact that it’s pretty hard. It will most likely be the fact that you can get up and start doing it, which is something that the average non-hip hop head can only dream of.
But if you’re going to break down rap into it’s constituent genres, it’s worth noting that these categories have their own quirks, in that most rap tunes are fairly simple. Sure, there’s “R&B,” which for some reason also includes some pretty nasty-sounding, anti-Semitic raps that have little chance of being able to get a chorus and can’t even contain a basic sense of musical arrangement. But when it comes to “R&B,” it’s almost as if the lyrics are meant to be a description of the kind of music someone would be listening to at a certain point in their life. If that’s the case, the hip hop sound is a perfect match.
R&B is an attempt, I think, to describe the era of the “Beatlemania” (which, yes, would also include the Beatles) so the word “rap” becomes a way of categorizing the music by the time it reached the popular consciousness. It’s important to note, of course, that all this talk of rap and rap music’s association with “gangsta” rap doesn’t exactly apply to the people who make it. Rap started out as an art form, not a language of oppression; a more or less secular form of expression based on the notion that we’re all connected in some way and we are each our own individual voice, and it really has no place being treated as a tool of oppression.
So if hip hop doesn’t have to rhyme and
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