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Bo Diddley Disses Rap.
March 2, 2003 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Bo Diddley is no fan of rap music. Apparently the well known blues player isn't particularly fond of the musical style. He commented on rap lyrics when talking to a group of high school students.

"The lyrics are very disgusting because you are a person, and a person deserves respect. I have daughters, my mother was a woman, and I don't like what I'm hearing."

He did offer a "clean" version of rap.

"Some folks say old Bo Diddley can't rap. I'm Bo Diddley and I ain't taking no nap."
posted by wondergirl (65 comments total)

 
You see, the kids listen to the rap music which gives them the brain damage! With the hippin n' the hopin and the bippin n' the boppin. SO THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THE JAZZ!..IS ALL ABOUT! Ya see, jazz iz like the Jell-O puddin pop.... RUDDDY! That's why your BROTHER THEEE-O makes the C AVERAGE! Gettin the BRAIN DAMAGE with Cockroach!

Picture Pages Picture Pages! Doodlydoot doodlydoot doodlydoot!
posted by Stan Chin at 8:59 PM on March 2, 2003


So, rappers don't know Diddley? :-)
posted by clevershark at 9:00 PM on March 2, 2003


why isn't he takin' a nap?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:07 PM on March 2, 2003


Matt, close this thread NOW. It won't get any better, and we don't want to see it Jump the shark...
posted by wendell at 9:12 PM on March 2, 2003


...and there were people in 1955 saying playing one chord to the "shave and a haircut" rhythm took no talent, as well.

All you pretty women,
Stand in line,
I can make love to you baby,
In an hour's time.

I'm a man,
I spell M-A-N...man.

--Bo Diddley I'm A Man

Not exactly a paragon of honoring women, himself.

Brilliant musician... but he might be just a bit out of touch.
posted by cadastral at 9:14 PM on March 2, 2003


Excellent rebuttal, cadastral.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2003


Because he's thinking about the children, mcsweetie. This is what he said about his song "Kids Don't Do It":

"I wrote that song before that mess [Columbine] happened, so it goes to show you," Bo says. "I'm sick of people sitting around the table just talking and not doing shit. It's gotta stop, man, because I'm scared to go out in the street. I'm 71 and I ain't takin' no ass-whippin'. We're a nation of hypocrites sometimes, and we should let a child be a child for the childhood years.

"Parents, rock & roll... but police your kids. You kick a little booty, that mess will stop."


Lord I love that man.
posted by hippugeek at 9:20 PM on March 2, 2003


I may be a little obtuse at this time of the evening, but I didn't get it.
posted by clevershark at 9:30 PM on March 2, 2003


Hey Mr. Bo Diddley - thanks for the input. Could you suggest any other irrelevant personalities whom I could rely on to determine my preferred genera of music? Please and thanks.
posted by wfrgms at 9:50 PM on March 2, 2003


cadastral: Of course, you're just totally au courant. You've proved it to me. You're way hipper and savvy in the sociopolitical sense than Bo Diddley - it goes without saying. You have quite the ear to the street. "I'm a Man" might as well have called women bitches and hos, it's so damned misogynistic. Worse, Pretty Thing objectifies a woman as a "thing." Oh my.

Actually, Bo does sound like he's just going off without thinking, but I'd listen to him before you.
posted by raysmj at 10:20 PM on March 2, 2003


Raysmj: Wow. You know, someone makes a respectful rebuttal, and you spew that? Way to go. You really won this one.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:15 PM on March 2, 2003


I take it that you agree with my point, but not my tone? I'm not sure what you're going for.

Are you saying that I'm overreacting to what you consider to be rather tame and innocuous lyrics?

I'll totally agree that, say Me and My Bitch by Notorious BIG is several orders of magnitude more overt than I'm a Man. But to judge an entire genre as "misogynist" based on a small sample is pretty shortsighted.

It'd be akin to KRS-One critiquing 50/60s R&B in the same way based on the violent and misogynist lyrics of the Johnny Otis project "Snatch and the Poontangs."
posted by cadastral at 11:17 PM on March 2, 2003


cadastral: Yeah. It's not like Bo's a nobody, exactly, even if he prolly doesn't hang out in hip neighborhoods and know much about, oh, social network theory and vegan cooking or something. (Yes, I'm being intentionally ridiculous. That was a joke, in other words.)

And yeah, the lyrics are rather tame by today's standards, although "I'm a Man" was of course meant to sound bad-ass. Even for his day and the Chess label, however, so many of Bo's songs were rather tame and they weren't particularly sexist. "I'm a Man's" more an exception than the rule, and even it's not hardcore misogynist, exactly. You don't pay the man respect by implying that it was. (Curiously, I remember reading someone on Mefi going off about how the only people who use the word "women" in reference to women are new age sensitive guys who just want to get laid, but won't say so. Bo uses the word "women" in "I'm a Man.")

In any case, you could've said that same thing as you did just above before. That was much better.

lazaruslong: Whatever.
posted by raysmj at 11:48 PM on March 2, 2003


For the record... I'm more than a casual fan of Bo Diddley's music. (I had an early High-School fascination with Northern Soul and British Invasion-era bands, and bought every Bo Diddley release I could find after listening to the Animals and reading about his rather profound influence on their music).

It was never my intention to be dismissive of his music... just his rather narrow and egocentric opinion...

(quoting from the article)
[rap] is not a thing that's going to last as long as I have.

Quick math time, Bo... you recorded new material for about an 8-10 year period in the 50s and 60s. Rap has been around and changing constantly and dynamically for almost 25 years. There are rap songs that will stand the test of time every bit as much as your best songs have.

On a personal level, I have no problem with violent and/or misogynistic lyrics... I've listened to and liked both I'm a Man and Me And My Bitch (cited in my earlier argument). It was more of a rhetorical point illustrating that there's a degree of "sour grapes" and a degree of hypocrisy behind his statements.
posted by cadastral at 12:23 AM on March 3, 2003


Mighty big talk for someone with a chimney made out of human skulls.

But seriously, folks, as a comedian... Back in the day, blues music sometimes used lyrics just as dirty, mean, misogynistic and violent as rap is infamous for. Compare Robert Johnson's 32-20 Blues or Me And The Devil Blues with, say, Eminem's Superman or Ludacris' Move Bitch. Or any of the examples posted to the (next-to) last rap-lyrics-are-going-to-hell thread here. Point being, there ain't nothin' new under the sun.

Cadastral: Look for me when I'm seventy, complaining about how kids today with their neo-crypto-ukelele n' bass boogaloo music sing too much about sex, drugs and violence.
posted by arto at 12:48 AM on March 3, 2003


Excellent point, arto...

Foul-mouthed misanthropes playing a "heel" role are an important part of showmanship... and probably have roots that run rather deep (if my anthological knowledge of mid/late-1980s professional wrestling is any indication).
posted by cadastral at 1:30 AM on March 3, 2003


There are rap songs that will stand the test of time every bit as much as your best songs have.

HAHAHAHAHA! Let's see...there's "Rapper's Delight," and maybe the RunDMC/Aerosmith "Walk This Way." Hmmm...nope, can't think of any others. When you say "test of time," surely you can't mean in the same way as, for instance, Elvis, Beatles, Sinatra, or even Journey.

In other words - you're joking, right?
posted by davidmsc at 2:02 AM on March 3, 2003


Rap songs, at least from this European's perspective, are really poems sung to a rhythm. Some are very good. I await a Bo Diddley-sampled mix to prove me right.

Why should music-makers like eachother's stuff? It makes no sense.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:11 AM on March 3, 2003


HAHAHAHAHA! Let's see...there's "Rapper's Delight," and maybe the RunDMC/Aerosmith "Walk This Way."

So... you just named two. Neither are my favorite. But you named them. So that proves my point. I didn't say "there are X number of rap songs that will stand the test of time".

Here's a list, if you're really interested in thinking about it critically. Short list of picks, off the top of my head... not meant to be canonical...

"New York State of Mind" - Nas
"Welcome to the Terrordome"- Public Enemy
"Eric B. For President"- Eric B. and Rakim
"The Symphony" - Marly Marl & the Juice Crew
"The Bridge is Over" - Boogie Down Productions
"Fight the Power" - Public Enemy
"Elevators" - Outkast
"Don't Sweat the Technique" - Eric B. and Rakim
"My Adidas" - Run-DMC
"Wu Tang Clan Ain't Nothing to Fuck With" - Wu Tang
"Let Me Ride" - Dr. Dre
"Straight Outta Compton" - NWA
"Vapors" - Biz Markie
"You Gots To Chill" - EPMD
"Ill Street Blues" - Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
"My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me" - Geto Boys
"Passing Me By" - the Pharcyde

I could go on for another hundred songs or so, I assure you. Any of these compare favorably with Bo Diddley's best output (which I suspect you haven't listened to, anyway).

I'm a Bo Diddley fan too... (see previous post). I'm going to venture a guess... and please correct me if I'm wrong (I'd hate to underestimate anyone). You don't know much about Bo Diddley, do you...? and you don't know much about hip hop, either.

MiguelCardoso You're prayers are answered.... Bo Diddley samples in Hip Hop follow (courtesy of xombi):

Big Bad Bo: (Chess 1974)
* "Hit or Miss"
Def Jef's "Just a Poet (It Feels Mighty Fine)"
De la Soul's "Buddy"
Kwame's "Dontmatta"
Method Man's "I Get My Thang in Action"
Schoolly D's "Your Worst Nightmare"

* "Hey Jerome"
Yo-Yo's "A Few Good Men"
posted by cadastral at 2:59 AM on March 3, 2003


Hmm, I've never heard any of those songs. Come to think of it, I've only heard of a few of those bands...
posted by Orange Goblin at 5:10 AM on March 3, 2003


And yeah, the lyrics are rather tame by today's standards, although "I'm a Man" was of course meant to sound bad-ass.

ray, as I think you'll agree with the music attached, that song still sounds more badass than just about any rapper you could name.

I kind find Bo's comments a bit ironic considering his rythmic innovations and badass lyical boasts laid the foundation for a lotta the best hip-hop.

davismsc- as a fellow music fan I'm here to tell you there is plenty of hip hop music that will stand the test of time. It may be in a rather dull period with all this bling-bling shit but it'll come around once people get tired of it. It kinda needs to develop it's own punk rock movement to strip it back to the basics cause it's stars have gotten more decadent than just about any 70's rocker you could name.

I know you like P-Funk so you're half way there. Hell The Chronic by Dr. Dre is straight outta the George Clinton playbook. All the stuff cadastral mentioned is good, if it's the raw lyrics that bother ya, there's plenty of hip-hop that's more musically oriented like Blackalicious , Jurassic 5, Outkast, and Nappy Roots and that's just some of the more well known stuff. I would not steer you wrong.
posted by jonmc at 5:41 AM on March 3, 2003


It's just an issue of exposure. Bo probably isn't aware of the better hip hop out there; most people aren't. They just get to hear the crap.
Someone 's going to argue that it must not be crap because it sells, which would be a good argument in a market that wasn't so monopolized by such a tiny corporate oligarchy; I'm guessing that most people have never heard of, say, Aesop Rock because he doesn't get played on the radio because Clear Channel doesn't care to play his stuff.

But in spite of his lack of exposure, if we take Diddley's statement to be directed towards the kind of rap that likely sparked his comment, it's a good and useful criticism.
I myself have often marvelled at how mainstream record labels have managed to fill their rosters with black musicians willing and ready to perpetuate old racist myths about black people: that black men are aggressive and dangerous, that black men have heightened sexual prowess, that black people with money are criminals, that black women are willing sex objects.
Not all hip hop portrays its subjects this way, but a lot of the stuff that gets airplay and sells big does do this. And we all know who buys the majority of hip hop records in this country: white suburban males. So we have record labels, mostly owned an run by old white men hiring young black men to sell racist myths about black people to white kids.

Anybody ever see Spike Lee's Bamboozled?
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:43 AM on March 3, 2003


i've only heard one of those songs (fight the power) which i think will indeed stand the test of time. admittedly i don't know jack about hip hop for the most part. like diddley i find the misogyny (and the constant grandstanding) boring as all get up.
posted by dobbs at 5:50 AM on March 3, 2003


I believe it was Robert Palmer, in his book Deep Blues, that wrote something saying that if rhythmic patterns could be copyrighted the way melodies can, Bo Diddley would be a millionaire many times over.

Yes, he hasn't done anything really new since the '60s. But his place in musical history is secure, due to his incredible influence...his rhythms, yes, but also his guitar sound, his showmanship, his self-presentation...

oh, and regarding older music that's just as "dirty" -- I love it when I run across something that was recorded in the '50s or earlier that has the little Parental Advisory logo on it. (I'm thinking especially of Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Bummer Road", Chess's 1969 re-release that has the 12+ minute long"Little Village", a hilariously profane slice of recording-studio chatter.) Or when I see the expression on peoples' faces when I play them Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues", or Bessie Smith's "Do Your Duty" or "Do Right Woman."

Just because it's old doesn't mean that people were any different back then.

on preview: Love the Jurassic 5 and Aesop Rock. There's so much good hip-hop out there that people never hear about. (Deltron 3030 is currently residing in my Discman.)
posted by Vidiot at 5:50 AM on March 3, 2003


Rap / Hip-Hop songs that are included on movie soundtracks will likely be remembered a lot longer. "Fight the Power" and "Jump Around" immediately come to mind.
posted by Stuart_R at 6:06 AM on March 3, 2003


jonmc: Yes, it's with the music attached, and the delivery. I'm still a bit more partial to "Who Do You Love?" in that respect, however. Lordy.

And eustacescrubb is dead on there, by the way. It's a typical with-it fan's line to say, "Oh, the obscure stuff is better. You haven't heard that, so what do you know?" It's a typical liberal or lefty brush-off line too. But that's not going to win any argument with people who only hear what's popular, especially when they're called "out of touch" or something. And it *shouldn't* win any argument. As with Bo's singing and music, it's all in the delivery. (The same goes for calling people who disagree with a standard line of thinking "irrelevant." That's so wrong.)
posted by raysmj at 6:16 AM on March 3, 2003


Cadastral: I think you're confusing an area of particular enthusiasm for universal appeal or interest. I think what was being got at above was that individual rap artists have not yet, and are not likely ever to, reach the levels of interest, acceptance, or recognition of many of the big name acts from the past.

I don't care how big you think Run-DMC is they have a tiny portion of the listening audience that say Elvis did during his hey-day. Probably 1/100th. The Elvis Aloha Special had the highest television ratings in history. It was shown the entire world over and had people of all ages and all colors and all interests watching and listening in awe-struck wonder and amazement. Between 1 and 1.5 billion people watched him. I couldn't care less what your opinion of his music is, his influence on musicianship and showmanship is undeniable.

Nat King Cole, Sinatra, hell even Liberace have had higher recognition and acceptance than any rap act you can name.

Now pay special attention, I'm not getting into the unending argument about whether it DESERVES that kind of recognition or not. But, the most common mistake I notice rap enthusiasts make is that it is universal in appeal, and that people who don't like it are anomalies and that really, truly, everybody likes rap (or would if they would listen) and that it really is popular.

This is, for good or ill, not the case.

There has not yet been, and doubtful will ever be, a Beatles or Rolling Stones of rap. George Jones has been recording new material since 1953, and is still going. I guarantee you Porter Wagoner has higher name recognition than any act you mention above.

Bo Diddley has credentials and MOST CERTAINLY has his right to an opinion about the matter at hand. And, considering his credentials vs a bunch of message board posters, it might carry more weight.

A great amount of rap *is* violent, aggressive, and less-than-flattering to the fairer sex. Pointing out that other music is/has been is somewhat besides the point. You're going to hold the man's opinion today to something he said in the 1960's???

Public Enemy standing the test of time like Ella Fitzgerald or Bob Dylan? Come on.

But of course, that's just my opinion.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:18 AM on March 3, 2003


The US Library of Congress recently announced the first fifty entries into the National Recording Registry; audio files and songs that will be preserved till the end of time for their historic, aesthetic, and cultural value. #50 on the list is The Message, by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. See criteria for inclusion here.
posted by iconomy at 6:29 AM on March 3, 2003


I don't care how big you think Run-DMC is they have a tiny portion of the listening audience that say Elvis did during his hey-day. Probably 1/100th.

I'm not sure much of that has to do with the music, however. Radio and TV demographics have splintered so much since that era. The number of charts available has multiplied hugely. I'm not sure anyone will be able to pull those kinds of audience anymore, since advertisers are interested in narrowcasting more and more precisely to their ideal consumer, and media outlets have gone along with that.
posted by Vidiot at 6:29 AM on March 3, 2003


Ynoxas: There isn't going to be a Beatles or Rolling Stones of anything anymore, I don't think. It's not the way the industry, or music fans, work anymore. Also, there exists a contigent out there who think music sucks the minute it becomes actually popular. Rap is going to be, and will be, remembered over time more for rhythmic innovations than any particular performer.
posted by raysmj at 6:30 AM on March 3, 2003


No one has mentioned Anthrax / Public Enemy's "Bring The Noise"!? Maybe not the most notable on most people's lists, but any metal fan remembers that song. Now excuse me, as I've "gotta get wicked"...
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2003


This far and no mention of the Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right", "She's Crafty", or "Paul Revere"?

Or for a different reason, NWA's "Fuck the Police" or Two Live Crew, who I didn't like but they took on the Supreme Court.
posted by vito90 at 7:14 AM on March 3, 2003


The argument that the only good rap is obscure rap is disingenuous at best. It's only obscure if you ignore the genre. If you pay any attention to the genre at all, you'll surely know of a large number of artists that have undeniable talent.

Anybody who merely reads an occasional article about the new 50 cent album and thinks they're in a position to judge the genre is as mistaken as the generation that condemned rock and roll as the devil's music.
posted by mosch at 7:45 AM on March 3, 2003


I'm not saying that the only good rap is obscure rap -- I'm just saying that what I tend to like happens to be fairly obscure at the moment. Tastes change, and I'm not a fan of most of what's on the charts right now. Tribe Called Quest and the Roots and De La Soul and Public Enemy were quite popular in their day, and I liked them then and like them now.

I will confess to not really following the genre, but then again I'm not really following most recent music.
posted by Vidiot at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2003


The question of rap music standing the test of time is a little pre mature. Let's let rap music age a little more. I can see myself at the age of 50 going out to see a few different rap acts comeback shows, Dre, and Snoop, Ice Cube, Eminem, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, some niche acts come to mind Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian, Black Eyed Peas. Time will tell, but IMHO I'll be forking out my hard earned dollars to go see the above mentioned folks recapture that old magic.
posted by jbou at 9:18 AM on March 3, 2003


Bo don't know Diddley. He doesn't do himself any favours with this comment:
"First of all, you can't understand what (rap) is and it has no meaning,"
I'll second Miguel's Sentiment:
'Why should music-makers like each other's stuff? It makes no sense.'
It's nice when they do like each others stuff, but not a prerequisit.

cadastral - 'Dictionary breath, you're one of a kind' (seems to be missing from this copy of the lyrics, maybe I am mis-remembering, probably thinking of Roxanne's Revenge)
Meant in the nicest possible way. Like MC Shan talking about Marley Marl.

Ynoxas - 'Public Enemy standing the test of time like Ella Fitzgerald or Bob Dylan? Come on.'

Well, having re-written this comment three times. YES. Just like them.
Public Enemy's output, which was a product of the late ninteen-eighties, and has dated as such, still has as much resonance for me as Bob Dylan's 60's output, which has also dated.
posted by asok at 9:46 AM on March 3, 2003


Don't forget Black Eyed Peas, for more positive rap!
posted by agregoli at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2003


Ynoxas - 'Public Enemy standing the test of time like Ella Fitzgerald or Bob Dylan? Come on.'

Everyone knows you don't like hip-hop. Fine, that's ok. You don't have to like it, and no one is forcing you to.

But what gets me is that you seem to have no respect for it as an art form, nor any respect for the people who create it. If this is indeed true, I'm telling you right now, you're out of touch with the times.

Bob Dylan was to his (perhaps your) generation what Public Enemy is to another generation. Of course the times have changed, and the musical styles are different, but for the most part the message remains the same - cut though the bullshit, and seek the truth.

I'm a little too young and a little too white for Public Enemy to have had any direct influence on my life, but I still respect what they do, and where they're coming from. Why can't you?

(And a note for the hip-hop fans, check out I, Phantom or Emergency Rations by Mr. Lif, a local MC outta Boston)
posted by SweetJesus at 12:59 PM on March 3, 2003


...individual rap artists have not yet, and are not likely ever to, reach the levels of interest, acceptance, or recognition of many of the big name acts from the past.

That depends on many, many things. (how you define interest and acceptance [and whether that's even relevant to this conversation] to name a few).

Whether or not someone has "been accepted" doesn't diminish their importance. Would anyone here argue that the Velvet Underground's first album wasn't revolutionary, important, and highly influential? It only took that album a few decades to sell 500,000 copies. The original argument was about "Standing the test of time" not "being accepted by a larger audience" (which hip hop is, anyway... but I digress).

There has not yet been, and doubtful will ever be, a Beatles or Rolling Stones of rap.

There's not ever been a Beatles or Rolling Stones of Classical music, either... but it'd be wrong to dismiss the genre as "not being able to stand the test of time."

Bo Diddley has credentials and MOST CERTAINLY has his right to an opinion about the matter at hand. And, considering his credentials vs a bunch of message board posters, it might carry more weight.

Bo Diddley doesn't know what he's talking about, and his opinion is ignorant. Not to be a heretic, but I know more about music since 1970 than Bo Diddley does. This is no boast, and I'll point out that I ALSO know more about cosmology than Galileo, I know more about geography than Ptolemy, and I know more about medicine than Hippocrates (as do you, I'd imagine).

The point is... the man's very important in the history of music... much much more than I could ever be. But he's just wrong, and his opinion is from ignorance.

A great amount of rap *is* violent, aggressive, and less-than-flattering to the fairer sex.

So are a ton of rock and roll/blues/country songs... so are a ton of classic novels... but certainly not all of them.

Public Enemy standing the test of time like Ella Fitzgerald or Bob Dylan?

Yes, yes... a thousand times yes. They will.
posted by cadastral at 1:12 PM on March 3, 2003


Another campaign with the right intention, but getting less attention, is the “Turn Off The Radio” effort by politically conscious rappers such as Chuck D of Public Enemy. Turn Off The Radio, in an open letter to the Black community, describes the airwaves that young people listen to as “filled with music and comments that express only negative, violent and denigrating ideas, creating a destructive emotional climate in the Black community.”
posted by raysmj at 1:21 PM on March 3, 2003


Here's the letter mentioned above in its entirety. The line separating Bo's feelings from Chuck D.'s is a rather thin one.
posted by raysmj at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2003


There's not ever been a Beatles or Rolling Stones of Classical music, either... but it'd be wrong to dismiss the genre as "not being able to stand the test of time."

Well, in the classical arena the analog would be the composers, not the individual orchestra who perform. I imagine that Beethoven and Mozart would fit the bill. And, yet again, they easily have more influence, more following, and more acceptance.

Do you know more about painting than Van Gogh? Do you know more about sculpture than Michelangelo? You've had the luxury of time, so that obviously puts you at an advantage, no?

The problem with your analogies is that music is an art form, not a science. Bo knows music. Really, he does. The man is deserving of an opinion without being called "ignorant" by us. The gall of calling a Bo Diddley or a Duke Ellington or a Satchmo or a Miles Davis ignorant about music is stunning.

So please, in the next plane of existence, avail yourself of the opportunity to find the great masters of any artform and explain to them how they don't know jack turkey about their art. I'd love to hear you explain to Renoir about how his paintings were nice but really paled in comparison to the elephant dung pieces of the 21st century.

I don't have to prove the point that great art, fine art, stands the test of time. History has done so for me.

As far as standing the test of time, maybe in that other existence we will be able to observe in 300 years times if people are still performing and listening to classical music, or if everyone will fill concert halls to listen about the "bling bling" and how Snoop "don't love dem ho's"?

Sweetjesus: you left out all the great discussions about Eminem. You know, the Jesus Christ of rap music, according to many at Mefi.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:05 PM on March 3, 2003


Sweetjesus: you left out all the great discussions about Eminem. You know, the Jesus Christ of rap music, according to many at Mefi.

I am right, you are out of touch...
posted by SweetJesus at 3:22 PM on March 3, 2003


Sweetjesus: Oh, I'm sorry. Is the "it" boy of last month no longer current?

If it's that easy to be "out of touch", then what does that say about the timelessness of rap?

"May I take your order?"

"Yes, I'd like some extra snarkiness, no substance please"

"Thank you, drive through".

Why so touchy? Oh, that's right, you're one of his disciples.

What a stroke of luck. I didn't look up your posts until now. I had no idea you were a devotee until I looked for rebuttal material.

You are a hip hop enthusiast. I am a hip hop detractor. We will not see eye to eye on this issue.
posted by Ynoxas at 3:46 PM on March 3, 2003


So please, in the next plane of existence, avail yourself of the opportunity to find the great masters of any artform and explain to them how they don't know jack turkey about their art.

Of course, I never said that Bo Diddley didn't know anything about his art. I said that he doesn't know anything about the art he's criticizing. If you missed that... please glean that now.

Just to indulge you, here's how my conversation with the great masters would go.

Cadastre: "Van Gogh... you don't know that much about 1960s minimalism."

Van Gogh: "Tell me about it... I'm interested to know what happened after I kicked."

Here's another conversation I might have.

Cadastre: "Bo Diddley you don't know that much about Hip Hop."

Bo Diddley: "That stuff is absolute crap... it's not about anything and it's disrespectful to women!"

Cadastre: "Sit here with me for a second and let's listen to a few cuts together..."
posted by cadastral at 3:46 PM on March 3, 2003


Again, a flawed analogy. Van Gogh was not alive and therefore not able to observe 1960's minimalism. Bo is currently alive during the hip hop era and is at least familiar enough with it to identify it.

What if after showing Van Gogh the 1960's minimalism he then declared "that is crap"?

I think it's terribly presumptuous of you to to assume that Bo has had no exposure to rap. Just as it would be presumptuous of me to assume he's steeped in it.

But, he's had enough exposure to it to form an opinion, and my argument all along is that the man is certainly deserving of his own opinion.

You come from the exact same angle that all aficionados do of their favorite indulgence: you are convinced that if someone does not like it, it's because they haven't been exposed to either enough of it or the right kind of it.

Cigar aficionados believe that if you don't like cigars it's because you should try a Cuban instead of Nicaraguan, or you should try maduro instead of Connecticut shade, or a robusto instead of lonsdales.

The exact same thing with rap. If someone says that they don't like it, then you come to the conclusion that is because they are inexperienced or just plain ignorant.

It never even occurs to you that someone could make a careful, thoughtful analysis of the material and simply not like it.
posted by Ynoxas at 4:23 PM on March 3, 2003


Obviously music is a matter of taste. What galls is that you (and Bo) not only seem to dislike rap, you make objective statements about its suckiness.

Perhaps the van Gough analogy was flawed -- what about Monet? I don't recall him being much into the Dadaist scene in his later years.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:24 PM on March 3, 2003


The problem with Van Gogh's paintings is that you can't understand what they are and they have no meaning.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:06 PM on March 3, 2003


Ynoxas, you're either a troll or a fool. Either way, I find your musings to be a depressing reflection on the current state of music appreciation, and cross-cultural understanding.

Public Enemy may not mean anything to you, but maybe that's because it wasn't made for you, or for Diddley.
posted by mosch at 6:38 PM on March 3, 2003


Sorry, reading back over my previous comment, I just unintentionally exposed my ignorance of late 19th century Dutch painting. Perhaps if I invested some time in a careful, thoughtful analysis of the material, I could come up with a better critique.

Actually, it would probably be best to consider the whole of impressionism and post-impressionism, so I don't confine myself to narrow arguments concerning what others may perceive to be a low point in the evolution of the form.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:38 PM on March 3, 2003


Bo only made a comment about lyrical content, about "what he's hearing," and didn't say anything about the entire genre except what the journalist indirectly attributed to him. The more I think about it, the more I don't see what you're all so hung about, really, even if he probably wasn't super-tactful or diplomatic. As noted above, Chuck D. agrees with the lyrical content part, at least as far as what's played on the radio and what's popular goes. The linked letter says almost exactly the same thing as Bo did, in so many words. Give Bo a smidgen of a break.

Of course, it's true that most of the best rap is not all that popular. A large chunk on non-popular stuff is just as terrible, however, or is stuff that won't age well. (I avoid plenty of non-rap for the same reason. I haven't the time or money to buy or seek out stuff upheld as hep that won't hold up for more than a year. Remember Arrested Development, y'all? Have you thrown that CD out by now? Are you still waiting for poor blacks and whites to bum rush the system? I sure hope not.) I've always liked the more bohemian / rootsy type rap or hip-hop, but it's a distinctly minority taste now. Public Enemy's isn't wildly popular these days either.
posted by raysmj at 6:58 PM on March 3, 2003


Bo only made a comment about lyrical content, about "what he's hearing," and didn't say anything about the entire genre except what the journalist indirectly attributed to him.

His language suggests he isn't aware of a distinction, but perhaps that is reading a little too much into it.

That said, an AP analysis of what Bo Diddley says about rap is three degrees removed from anything important (with all due respect to the AP, Bo Diddley, and rap).
posted by eddydamascene at 7:13 PM on March 3, 2003


Yes, and AP articles are often abridged versions of local newspaper articles in the first place. Gosh only knows what the original said, much less what was exactly said in person. It's a space-killing article. Newspapers gotta fill all that white space.
posted by raysmj at 7:24 PM on March 3, 2003


Ynoxas, you're either a troll or a fool. Either way, I find your musings to be a depressing reflection on the current state of music appreciation, and cross-cultural understanding.

Ynoxas doesn't like rap. How is this a "depressing reflection on the current state of music appreciation, and cross-cultural understanding"? Does his dislike for the genre mean that he represents the current state of music appreciation for the masses? I don't understand where your statement comes from, nor why you're calling him a troll or a fool.
posted by ashbury at 8:16 PM on March 3, 2003


Ynoxas claimed that Public Enemy cannot stand the test of time like Bob Dylan, despite the fact that he's clearly not a member of one of the demographics who find Public Enemy's work to be groundbreaking, important and inspirational.

Ynoxas claimed that DJs play music much as a realtor shows a house, which indicates a complete lack of knowledge of the techniques used by the hip-hop DJ.

Ynoxas has crossed the line from not liking rap to decrying that it is useless and a waste, without understanding what it is, who it is for, and what it provides to it's core audiance.

This is what I meant when I said that Ynoxas provides a depressing reflection on the current state of music appreciation and cross-cultural understanding. He claims that music regarded by many as vital and powerful and is meaningless and transient, simply because it is not targetted at him.

It is one thing not to like a piece of music; It is another to delcare it worthless. Ynoxas leaped unapologetically over that line of ignorance in many of his comments, and that is what I find dispiriting.
posted by mosch at 9:39 PM on March 3, 2003


Mosch: you're obviously in a titter about the whole thing, and as I said above to sweetjesus, you are a self-professed fan, I am a self-professed detractor, so we won't see eye to eye on this.

You're also mixing apples and oranges, as the DJ discussions were about turntablism and this discussion is about Rap.

Or, do you think they are the same thing? You do realize turntables are used in other musical styles besides rap and hip-hop, right?

Who's ignorant now? (Hint: you)

I can't teach you to read things in context, and I can't teach you reading comprehension.

The very idea that "demographics" have jack turkey bullshit to do with whether music is "good" or not is *EXACTLY* what is wrong with music today.

18th century classical music was aimed at 18th century aristocrats. I am neither 250 years old nor an aristocrat, but yet I can appreciate it.

As far as the turntablism goes, my position (held by many others, I might add, it's not like I"m a lone voice in the darkness) is that they are not "musicians". They are "DJ's". They are fine being DJ's. Why do they have to be musicians? Why can't we let the term they already have describe them? Why is it so vitally important to people to have them "officially labeled" as musicians? Once you answer that question for yourself, then you will start to understand where I'm coming from.

As far as rap goes, it is not "worthless". I will however call Eminem's rap useless. I don't care if he made you cry sitting on your bed bobbing your head to "Stan". He is, *IN MY OPINION* a no-talent novelty act in the rap world. If he were black, he would have been dismissed long ago. But he's white and the rap powers that be so desperately want to find a white wunderkind that they laud him for mediocre skills.

Rap is not "worthless". But I find it boring, repetitive, insulting, and unintelligible much of the time. I don't particularly care for speed metal for the very same reasons, but Lord God in Heaven knows you can find supporters of it all over the place, so yet again it must be my ignorance.

See, it's a battle that cannot be won. You can find supporters and fans of *ALL* types of music. So, if you don't like or appreciate a certain style of music, then there's always someone who will tell you it's because you're ignorant, uninitiated, sheltered, uppity, or just plain stupid.

I also still take great offense that "i don't understand what it's about". As I've stated before, I am a trained musician, and I understand the beats, meters, tempos, timbres, and tonalities in a very intimate and technical way.

That in no way makes me square. I am fully aware of, and experienced in, such non traditional musical forms as prepared piano, atonal music, unmetered music, and pictorial interpretive music.

I was listening to rap in 1984, were you? In early high school I was known in some circles as "Scratchmaster Steve", put as a mild insult, because I was listening to so much rap back then. I was intrigued by the early rap, the Run DMC, Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash, UTFO, then it was on to Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, and Sir Mix-A-Lot (still my all time favorite, I don't care what anyone says... he was easily the most entertaining rapper of that era, even though he wasn't the most talented). That's when it started to change. NWA, Public Enemy, Ice-Cube, Dre, Snoop. Anything post-1995 I've had extraordinary difficulty listening to and/or enjoying. There are of course exceptions.

I think the early rap had real promise and was headed towards real mainstream acceptance. Run-DMC was accepted by most mainstreamers. But then in the middle 90's it all changed. Some would say it was never meant to be adopted by the mainstream, and that's fine. It wasn't so they should be happy.

You know nothing about me. You know nothing about my intellect, my experience, my talents, my habits. I plan on never posting to another rap/hip-hop/dj thread again, because the song is exactly the same. If I don't like it, it must be *MY* problem, there must be something wrong with me.

Not having known you, I can only theorize that I know much more about music of all genres, including rap, than you do. I have been evaluating rap for almost 20 years, save the last few years. If you have to consider me "ignorant" to protect your own fragile opinion of a musical art form, then more power to you.

You're just dead wrong.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:32 AM on March 4, 2003


Ynoxas, that's a fascinating rebuttal. Honestly, I believe that you made my point for me when you changed your argument from the offensive assertion that the genre will never produce a memorable or important work to a far more reasonable opinion-based argument that you find it generally boring.

I will never argue with a person's opinion as to a piece of music, as an opinion about music has no way to be wrong, no matter how much it conflicts with my opinion. Blanket statements regarding the validity of a genre of music, on the other hand, are indefensible, for there's no way for them to be correct.

As for your assumptions as to your superior musical knowlege, perhaps they are true, but perhaps not. I'm a classically trained pianist, born of a family of musicians. I'm well studied in music theory, and while I chose a non-musical career, I have remained close to music, spending much of my free time and efforts on a wide variety of musical experiences. There are certainly those whose musical knowledge far exceeds mine own, but I'm no slouch.

That being said, I'm not sure how to approach a musical discussion with you, seeing as you seem far more interested in insulting me personally than you do in discussing music. Perhaps we can try again in another thread, on another day.

P.S. I don't like most modern rap.
posted by mosch at 7:42 AM on March 4, 2003


Ynoxas, you're either a troll or a fool.

You set the tone. Have a nice day.

I would much enjoy hearing your rendition of some Shostakovich. I think the more modern classical compositions allow for more interpretation and injection of character from the performer, while staying true to the work.

I also expect the people living in 2303 will much rather hear you play than listen to some guy rhyme about pimpin' ho's and jackin' fools and killin' cops.

If not, I can't say that I really care anymore. I'm done with this topic on metafilter, and frankly, probably in life as well.

The whole "quality in/of art" discussion is one I have on a fairly regular basis offline, and I've just grown weary of it.

I give up.

Everything is good. Everything is excellent. Everything is equal. Nothing is better than anything else. There is no comparative quality, there is no discrimination between items. Everything is equally as valid as anything else. Copeland's best orchestral works and me doodling on a kazoo are the same thing, completely equal, and one is just as deserving, verily, just as likely, of standing the test of time.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:27 AM on March 4, 2003


Clarification: the last bit was not directed at mosch directly but at the entire discussion, both here and elsewhere.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:29 AM on March 4, 2003


Firstly, your doodling on a kazoo is, in my opinion, likely to be far more interesting than Copland's best works.

Secondly, there are many things that determine the quality of a piece of music. Quality of composition and performance are two major qualities, but they are not the only ones.

Thirdly, there are a fair number of rappers and producers who graduated from establishments such as Berklee, Curtis and Juilliard. Some of them might also know a thing or two about music.

Lastly, it takes two to tango, and it's been fun. I'm off to another thread now, preferably one with fewer trolls.
posted by mosch at 11:30 AM on March 4, 2003


Ynoxas, this is a pretty good audio introduction to some underground hip-hop.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2003


While I have no doubt that plenty of people in the hip-hop bidness have extremely impressive credentials, the Juillard bit seems a bit over the top. I doubt they're featured in alumni publications. And why would a Juillard pedigree mean anything in the hip-hop world, except in most obscure and experimental corners? It's comparable to specializing in the study of 17th Century Sanskrit literature and becoming an editor of spy thrillers or satirical dating books or whatever. It's just a credential that has little to do with the field in which you work, besides the fact that it involves music or print. You don't even need to know anything about notes in pop music. So who cares?
posted by raysmj at 12:42 PM on March 4, 2003


Nat King Cole, Sinatra, hell even Liberace have had higher recognition and acceptance amongst old people than any rap act you can name.

Mind you, Sinatra, OG.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:37 PM on March 4, 2003


raysmj: a solid musical education makes it significantly easier to make popular music, as it helps a person understand why it is that certain modes, and progressions create certain effects, and how to make music that makes a person want to listen to that music.

As for popular musicians who've attended notable schools, off the top of my head I know that The Roots was started by a Juilliard musician. The Norah Jones album that won half the grammys was produced by a Berklee grad, and such unknown pop stars as Aimee Mann, Aerosmith, Melissa Etheridge, and one of the Dixie Chicks all graduated from Berklee as well.

A lack of obvious complexity in a piece of music does not mean that it was created carelessly or by people who lack talent.
posted by mosch at 2:08 PM on March 4, 2003


Personally, I don't give a rat's ass if the musicians I listen to have advanced or specialized degrees or not. I'd bet that most of my favorite pop musicians are self-trained. Berklee is more associated with contemporary music regardless - especially given an emphasis on the more technical aspects of recording, But such training is not required and doesn't make one necessarily better. It may help, but probably no more than J-school makes one a great journalist, say. (Juilliard, by the way, is a music conservatory, and not aimed at the training of contemporary musicians. Berklee overtly bills itself as being for such.)
posted by raysmj at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2003


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