Hip-Hop & Rap

Shalini Maharaj, a 27-year-old senior English major said hip-hop is the way to go. She loves the message presented by artists such as Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, KRS One and Rakim. She feels that hip-hop artists in comparison to rap artists are not just in the industry to make money, but because of their love of making music and the whole hip-hop way of life. She even said when she has children she would let them listen to hip-hop artists because of the intelligence and inspiration they may provide for their lives.

Ironically, she also said she listens to rappers such as 50 Cent. She is not very fond of rap music, but she likes the beats many of the songs have. She feels that many of the rap songs are enjoyable to dance to and are usually the only type of songs played at the clubs. But when it comes to rap songs she doesn’t really know the name of the songs and rarely listens to the words. Maharaj says that many of the people who listen to rap music just listen to it because of the good beats and they don’t even know the lyrics to the songs. Her views seem to be much more mature then a great deal of the ideal listeners of rap music, usually teenagers. She said she thinks that many people look at artists like 50 Cent and think they are cool because of the money, women, cars and jewelry they have, projecting a specific image.

Heather Young, a 22-year-old junior English and major has another view of why 50 Cent is good. She says he has a hot body and that his songs are very catchy. When I asked her what type of music she listened to she said she likes the radio. She said songs like, “This is Why I’m Hot” and “Buy You a Drink” are not only easy to move to, they also have hooks that get stuck in your head. Young also loves rapper Snoop Dogg, who, she says, has a very sexy voice. When Young’s cell phone rang and her ringtone was a Slick Rick song, I realized she not only listens to rap but hip-hop as well. She told me she loved Slick Rick, who is a classic old school artist and one of the greatest to ever pick up a microphone.

Garret Hall Mark, a 26-year-old junior philosophy major has a similar view to Maharaj. He doesn’t listen to any rap music and agreed with me that there is a humongous difference between rap and hip-hop. He doesn’t like mainstream artists because many of them aren’t doing what they truly want do in their heart but merely what the record label is telling them they have to do to sell records. The farthest he goes to the mainstream circuit is Mos Def, who is signed to an independent label. He said he cannot really relate to the music that’s being played on the radio about drug selling and materialistic possessions. He feels the independent artists don’t have time to just cater to a certain audience; they can appeal to anyone no matter their race, socioeconomic status and sex. Much of the rap being played is usually fueled on gimmicks and the people who like it are most likely people who have experienced what the rappers are talking about. I told him I could agree with the first part of that statement but not the second because many of the people who buy the albums are kids that are suburban Caucasian.

From talking with many of the students it was clear to me that the music they listen to was based on their views of society and how they should be. Ironically, many of the students I talked to listen to both rap and hip-hop which is a complete contradiction because of what each genre of music stresses on. I also found that people who liked rap don’t even listen to the message the rappers are presenting, but the people who listen to hip-hop could quote some of the lyrics and explain them to me.