For as long as mankind has walked on this earth, music has been an important part of our culture and lifestyles. Each walk of life beats to a different drum. Different cultures use music for many aspects of their lives; for religious purposes, for celebrations, for comfort, for sorrow, for relaxation, for sports, for dances, for energy, for learning, for sleeping, and for sexual experiences. Everyone uses music for something. Music connects with people and reaches them in ways that words simply cannot.
Music is a representation of what feelings sound like. It expresses emotion and brings that characteristic out from within us; it tells us a story. Every generation has its’ own sound and different music styles have emerged and become extremely popular. In the 1950’s Rock n Roll came to the scene and shocked everyone.
The new sexual language and sex appealing dance moves had people thinking it was the end of all innocence. Then in the 1980’s Hip Hop Rap became increasingly popular.
Many people viewed this new music as stupid and disgusting. It was seen as a ghetto, spoken word, vulgar, type of music. An example of this stereotype is the views of Hip Hop/ Rap through James McBride’s perspective. In James McBride’s essay “Hip Hop Planet” he shares with us his views on hip hop/ rap music and how hard it was for him to appreciate it. Overtime people began to appreciate this new genre of music more. They started realizing that this is not just a bunch of ghetto people cursing and speaking; it has meaning. Hip Hop/ Rap is truly an artistic genre and expression of real talent. This genre of music depicts peoples’ lives, tells us a story, and expresses their emotions. Some songs can be inspirational and can move you in a way that other genre’s cannot. An example of an artist that can convey this in his music is Eminem.
James McBride tells us his views on Hip Hop Rap and shows us how difficult it was for him to come to terms with this new music. James grew up in the Bronx, which is where this new Hip Hop Rap was emerging. He first heard this new music at a party in 1980. McBride thought that this music was ridiculous and stupid. He viewed it pessimistically; all he saw was criminality in this new “music.” There were gangsters cursing and speaking words. He thought that it had no melody or sense of harmony. For many years McBride tip- toed around Hip Hop Rap music, but simultaneously it haunted him with every step he took. In doing this he missed history in the making, while he passed some of the most famous rappers on the streets of the Bronx without any recognition. What he did not realize was that this music was in fact in so many ways a true, revolutionary and artistic genre. He also did not pay attention to the fact that this new genre would be long lasting and eventually become a part of mainstream music. This music was much more than gangsters cursing and speaking words. It told a story, expressed emotion, depicted peoples’ lives, and conveyed their hardships during that time. It was a demonstration of true artistic ability. It was a real talent that was in many ways inspirational. This is what James McBride failed to see at that time but began to realize this later in life.
James McBride decided to learn more about this new music. What he discovered will change his views on Hip Hop Rap music forever. Hip Hop Rap was a lot deeper than what he had thought. Eventually, he starts to realize that this music is not all criminality; it has meaning and it is truly an artistic genre. He decided to go to the Bronx River apartments in New York City, where Hip Hop Rap all began, to find that it has very cultural and historical roots. It started out in these apartments of the city because during the 1970’s New York City was a complete mess. It was at this time that there was an abundance of criminality. There was a lot of gang violence and crime. The streets of this city were extremely dangerous and many people were dealing with very difficult financial issues. The kids that were on these streets of New York City were feeling trapped, as if they had no way out of the mess. They drew graffiti on sides of buildings and created their own music, which made their hardships into works of art.
These troubled kids began to create music without instruments. Instead of using instruments they used words; it was entirely vocal music. This music depicted the hardships of the city at the time and the way the kids felt. This was the beginning of Hip Hop Rap music. Many of these harmonies, internal rhymes, and lyrics became expressions of the emotions that they were feeling at that time. It was the anger, the despair, the emptiness, the poverty, the sorrow, and the loneliness they felt for the times that they lived in. The history of Hip Hop Rap music proved to McBride that it does tell a story and reflects life as it is lived by young people who felt trapped in the ghettos of New York City. It also proved to him that even rap music takes true artistic ability and expresses real emotions of real people when they feel a certain way.
James McBride still had the urge to learn more about Hip Hop Rap music. He decided to complete his mission by finding the roots of this music. James traveled to Senegal, in West Africa. This was one part of the world that was affected by the Arab slave trade. This is where he began to discover the origins of the sounds of Hip Hop Rap. There they created a sound called the call and response method that slaves took with them to America. Overtime this call and response method began to make its way into the Hip Hop Rap music of America. In discovering this information James does not just have a better understanding of this new genre, but he now also has a better respect for it. He can now see this music as a truly artistic genre with deeper meaning.
An example of Hip Hop Rap music that can show that this music is a genuine sound and a real artistic expression of true talent is the music of Eminem. Eminem, born Marshall Mathers, and sometimes known as his alter ego, Slim Shady, is a very truthful rapper. He raps about his personal experiences throughout his life and through these raps he expresses his emotions. His songs are mostly about his struggle with drug abuse, a best friend’s death, difficult relationship with his mother, his divorce, and his daughters. All of his songs are written by him and are almost always about his past or a current situation in his life. His raps depict the hardships in his life, which many can relate to. Eminem grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he experienced poverty while being raised by a single mother; his father had left before he was born. As a child he moved many times and had a hard time making friends. He knew he wanted to be a rapper at the age of 9 and dropped out of high school. He was into rap music and met his friend Proof when he was 14. Proof pushed him and helped him pursue a career in rapping. He was unsure of his ability since he was a white rapper and not many people believed in him. Proof was the only one who did; he helped him gain recognition and respect along the way. While Eminem was growing up in the ghetto he wrote most of his music down on pieces of paper.
He would write a few words at a time when his emotions hit him in no specific order so that when the paper was finished, it would not logically flow. Then he would create rhymes and raps out of it. Shortly after beginning his rapping career, he sold an album that was not a big hit, but he didn’t give up. He was then recognized by Dr. Dre, who was well known in the industry, and Eminem finally became known. He never had a great relationship with his mother and is very open about it, talking about it in interviews. He moved out when he was very young. He also raps in his songs about his mother, expressing how terrible of a mother she was. Later on his mother sued him in a slander case. Eminem has created about twenty albums so far and has sold over 100 million albums in the United States alone. He was named the best selling artist of the decade. Eminem is an award- winning artist, winning thirteen Grammys from thirty- nine nominations, and an Academy Award to date. His honesty and raw emotion comes through in all of his songs. His lyrics are clever and poetic. Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine stated, “He shows all the signs of being one of the great lyricists, on par with (Bruce) Springsteen, Bono and (Bob) Dylan.” He is a prolific writer who uses poetry, honesty, symbolism, emotion, and wild hyperbole to tell his stories. Eminem uses the expression of his emotions throughout his songs to reach people. He is mostly angry or upset but by sharing these emotions, people can really relate to how he feels. Eminem always tries to connect with his listeners. His lyrics are often controversial and include vulgar language. Some of the controversial topics that Eminem raps about are: politics, drugs, sex and homosexuality. Such topics had Eminem discriminated against for a long period of time. People demonstrated against him until they realized that what he says in his music is not meant to offend anyone.
The reason why this language is incorporated in rap music is because it is just the language of the generation. Many of Eminem’s songs talk about his relationship with his ex wife, Kim, and his children. Eminem had one biological daughter, Hailey, with Kim. Kim also had another child with a different man, who Eminem later adopted. He also adopted his niece, Kim’s sister’s child. He had a turbulent relationship with Kim and even talked about wanting to kill her in one of his songs. They were married and divorced twice, finally ending their relationship in 2006. In 2010, Eminem released one of his deepest, personal albums: Recovery. The songs reflect his road to recovery from depression and drug abuse. The songs detail the struggles he went through, the demons he faced, and the turmoil in his life. His songs take the listener through a journey from his darkest moments to the strong, admirable, sober artist that he is today. Eminem’s song “Going Through Changes” is about a time in his life when he battled with drugs. He creates a very personal impression and speaks to the listeners with his emotions. The way he connects to his listeners is in such a manner that it is almost like we are his friends. “I feel like I’m losing control of myself, I sincerely, I apologize if all that I sound like, is I’m complaining.” Here, he apologizes to us as if he was talking to his best friend. It makes us have sympathy and feel as though he’s reaching out for help. The conversational way of talking to listeners is a choice that he doesn’t always make. Although Eminem often sounds his aggression and anger in most of his songs, in this particular song he is more vulnerable, creating a more sober tone.
He even admits to this in his autobiography The Way I Am, when he says “My mood can change quickly.” When he is aggressive and angry, he seems cold and distant, as if he is pushing people away. This song makes us feel closer to him because he seems exposed. The personal way he conveys his problems gives the song power, shows his true artistic ability, and makes the words come to life. Eminem talks about his drug use in his autobiography, “I didn’t really start doing drugs until I rapped about them.” He began smoking marijuana and drinking in his twenties. Between 2002 and 2008 he spent much of the time abusing drugs, including prescription medication. When his best friend, Proof, was killed he became very depressed. He turned to drugs in order to cope with the pain and depression of his loss. Drugs also helped him deal with his turbulent relationship with Kim, eventually causing him to overdose in 2007. In an interview he talked about Proof’s death and he admitted to abusing drugs, “It had a lot do with it, I remember days I spent just taking f****** pills and crying.” The song, “Going Through Changes,” has many lines that described his drug abuse, how the spirit of best friend guided him away from drugs, and his depression. He uses the close relationship with his listeners to build up images about his depression. “But life keeps on complicating, an’ I’m debating, on leaving this world, this evening, even my girls, can see I’m grievin’, I try and hide it,” also “Around with the idea, of ending the s*** right here.”,“I’m hatin’ my reflection, I walk around the house tryin’ to fight mirrors, I can’t stand what I look like, yeah, I look fat, but what do I care? I give a f***, only thing I fear, is Hailie.” These lyrics show how depression and drugs took over his life and how he knows that even though he tries to hide it everyone can see what state he is in.
He uses stream of consciousness to reflect the sense of self- hatred. Eminem is saying that he could not stand looking at himself in the mirror and realizes what he became. He was ashamed of himself and hated himself for doing drugs. He then switches and begins to say that he doesn’t care about his own well being, but only what Hailie, his daughter, sees him as. This expresses his self- hatred and clearly states that he wants to end his life. He tries to act like everything is okay in life and that he is strong, when he’s really not: “But I can’t, why do I act like I’m all high and mighty, when inside, I’m dying, I am finally realizing I need help.” He explains how he is so out of control he takes drugs all day and night: “Now I’m poppin Vic’s, perks, and Methadone pills,“and ”And it hurt sore, fast forward, sleepin’ pills’ll make me feel alright,” “And if I’m still awake in the middle of the night, I just take a couple more, yeah you’re mother******’ right.” The drugs that he speaks about in these lyrics, Vicodin, Percocet, and methadone, are all opiate painkillers. Eminem used these drugs to drown the emotional pain brought on by Proof’s untimely death. These lyrics show how he wants to commit suicide. They also express that he can’t sleep because all he thinks about is Proof, so he decides to overdose on drugs and attempts to commit suicide. Eminem also creates imagery in your mind as if you were right there with him. He is able to make you feel like he’s reliving this moment while he raps: “I ain’t slowin’ down for no one, I am almost homeward bound. Almost in a coma, yeah homie come on, don’t look now, daddy, don’t you die on me, daddy, better hold your ground. F*** don’t I know the sound of that voice, Yeah baby hold me down.
Wake up in the hospital, full of tubes, plus somehow I’m pullin’ through.” Here, he speaks about the time when he was rushed to the hospital because he overdosed on drugs when he was depressed and was within hours of dying. Drugs almost killed him, but the only thing that saved him was hearing Hailie’s , his daughters, voice. Although some listeners might be hesitant to accept such controversial lyrics as music, they will be forced to recognize Eminem’s talent if they only care enough to take a second listen, the way McBride did with Hip Hop Rap music. While looking back on James McBride’s journey of when he came to appreciate Hip Hop Rap music, we see that this music was a lot deeper than what he had stereotyped it to be. He discovered that Hip Hop Rap music is actually an artistic genre that has very cultural and historical roots. . Eminem is an example of a Hip Hop Rap artist who has a true artistic ability and proves that this genre of music goes a lot deeper than some may see. This music is an expression of McBride’s time. Every generation has its own music that emerges with its own new sound, that, to many people, may be shocking, but most people grow to become interested in and hooked on.
Cite this History of Creation of Hip Hop Music
History of Creation of Hip Hop Music. (2016, Jul 09). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/hip-hop-planet/