Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Theater of The Absurd

Rapper Lil' Jon before and after he morphed into a stereotype


I have seen all sorts of commentary from bloggers and others about Hip Hop music. I have read apologists and I have read those who hate Hip Hop. I have listened to the dialogue about the state of Hip Hop for a pretty long time now.

Today though something occurred to me that I'm not sure I've heard before. I'm sure someone has discussed this, I just haven't heard it.

My thought was how absurd Hip Hop music is. It's so absurd that it's almost funny. Obviously certain elements of it aren't funny. Such as the racist and misogynist elements. But over-all Hip Hop music is, well stupid. It's ridiculous.

I am hard pressed to believe that there are people who actually believe that today's Hip Hop is authentic in any way. How sheltered a life must someone live to believe that Lil' Jon is authentic? How sheltered a life must one live not to realize that Lil' Jon is a stereotype come to life with the help of corporate America?

How sheltered must one be to think that these rappers with cartoon character names are real?

Are a bunch of thousandaires pretending to be pimps authentic? Are a bunch of rappers pretending to own homes and Bentleys that they are actually leasing for the day of a MTV Cribs shoot authentic?

Let's face it at least 75% of Hip Hop music buyers are non - African Americans. So if these people who buy Hip Hop think that what they are listening to is authentic, what does that say about them?

Dr. Dre before (note the shoulder pads)

Dr. Dre After the stereotype morph

Are they just dumb or do they have so little contact with actual Black people that that they don't know any better than to believe these rappers are real? At a certain point doesn't common sense kick in?

Rap music has become nothing more than the theater of the absurd.



What do you think?


20 comments:

Jackie said...

Cartoon character names, that's so true.
The tragedy is there are young men and women who absorb this stuff and try to live it. Then there are the 75% that buy it, love it, learn it, dance to it, but to them it's just entertainment.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

One of the things that made me stop listening to the rap/hip-hop I was listening to in my younger years is when I found out how fake many of them were.

Dr. Dre and even Ice Cube for me were two examples of people faking like live one lifestyle, but actually living another.

In fact in the 90's Dr. Dre and Luke got into a diss war. One of the things Luke used against Dr. Dre in a video was the picture you posted of Dr. Dre when he was in the World Class Wrecking Crew. Also note that Dr. Dre was wearing synquis (spelling).

On an international note, there are people around the world who believe that these rappers are really living these lifestyles. Just the other day I had a debate with a guy in Tel Aviv who worked at a gas station. He asked me if I knew about 50 Cents. I told him that most of those rappers don't live like they claim. The guy argued that they did even though he had never been to America. I tried to explain to him the reality, but he wouldn't believe me.

I think what blurs the issue is when people don't have contact with said rappers. I once believed that many of these guys lived the way they talk on their albums until I met some of them. Because I did not have close contact with them beforehand, and i knew very little about the culture they were talking about I believed what they were saying also.

Anonymous said...

It's a way for us to eat and provide for our families so you shouldn't knock it. Just think if we didn't have music. Rick James, Natalie Cole, DeAngelo, Bobby Brown, and Whitney Houston are all crack heads but we don't slander R&B music. DONT BLAME HIP HOP. Hip hop and rap are (2) different things. Hip hop is the culture and rappers are the people who make the songs. What Will Smith makes is not music but I support him... I think we should support each other not knock each other... we hate on ourselves which brings us all down.

Randi523 said...

Anon: yeah, all of us have to eat and provide for our families, but to paraphrase the scripture, what does it profit a man to gain [the world] but lose his soul? There are plenty of ways to eat and provide for our families, positively. And even if you choose music (which I do love GOOD music-I do agree with you that Hip-Hop and Rap are two different things), you can create music without degrading yourself, your family (that you are trying to provide for), and your race.

LOL at the pic of Dre pre-NWA/The Chronic!

Nick said...

It's another version of the old rock stereotype that affluent, middle-class musicians have to pretend to be poor and working-class to get street-cred. There've been a lot of those in the UK, such as Mick Jagger (who went to the London School of Economics). People should be proud of their real background and not pretend to be something they're not.

Baby Please said...

Girl, I fell out at that Lil John pic (who by the way strikes me as the biggest ignoramus that ever lived on the planet... in the world... in the universe.) I'm just sayin')

I don't do much hip hop, as I share your sentiments.

Chile, that Dre photo was funny -- there's one when he's wearing eyeliner or some sh*t. And then -- poof -- he was thugged out. LMMFAO.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

poitou said...

I like to listen American's Rap/RnB. I like Lil Jon.I don't consider myself of being dumb.And I don't think African americans are like these clowns.I like Kung Fu movies, but I don't think that chinese people are expert in Kung Fu.One of my favourite movie is the Godfather, but I don't think that Italian-americans are mobsters.50 years ago the clowns you are talking about did not exist but I think people at the time had already stupid stereotypes about Blacks.
But I agree with you that this music is not authentic.However I buy sometimes this music, I dance sometimes on it.What does that say about me?well,you tell me!

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

lil john my folk, used to dj my parties and record in m studio and he aint changed since i met him in 1988 to me, but the again i know him, and he ober my house regularly

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

PS - he said im one of the rasons he started his dreds

Tami said...

Anon,

I agree with the poster above. We all have to eat...true, but it's not okay to sell your people down the river to make a buck. To quote an old soul song:

There aint no room
For the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all mankind just
To save his own

And MDC, that picture of Lil John? You are wrong for that! (lol) He should be made to wear a blow up of that picture around his neck as a reality check when he's clownin of the red carpet holding a blinged out chalice.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Jackie,

That is the saddest part; some young African American kids think that these people are for real. They don't realize that emulating them is a dead end street.

_____________________________________

Ehav,

I have heard all sorts of stories of how people around the world develop their thoughts about African Americans from watching and listening to rap.

There is no balance with regard to the images.
___________________________________

Anon,

Obviously your saying that it's about making a living is falling on deaf ears. So you have no other way to make a living other than being a stereotype?

You can read the other comments directed at you, they speak for me.
___________________________________

Randi,

Lol, I think it's hilarious too.
___________________________________

Nick,

That's true. To a certain extent music stars and genres have been built on some what false images.

However Rap is built on stereotypes that have existed since this nation was founded. It's amazing that we are still dealing with the same images and stereotypes hundreds of years later.
___________________________________

Baby Please,

Lol, The Dr Dre transformation is rather amazing. And your views on Lil Jon are my views.
___________________________________

Hello Poitou,

Well it says that, you’re buying and dancing to this music, that you are willing to overlook the obvious harm it is doing to African Americans en mass.

I have heard Asian people complain about those kung fu images and Italians complain about mobster images as well. But even if they didn't it would not negate the harm that rap does to African Americans here and around the world.

Also the fact that rap music does not offend you is not a good defense.

Thanks for you comment
____________________________________

Torrance,

Lol, well I won't hold it against you!
___________________________________

Tami,

Lol, isn't that picture priceless!
___________________________________

___________________________________

jose said...

I would love to get into this, as I have a million times, but I got to say: the line between someone who reports what he / she sees on the street and does it for strictly entertainment has to be drawn, much the same way that serious music and entertainment has to be drawn too. The line between understanding what's superficially affecting our communities and what really affects our communities needs to be drawn, too. These influences aren't from our community as they are from others in power. That 75% statistic has never been proven, and there's never been a scanner that can calculate race into sales figures, even if it can predict demographics. I'm all for conjecture as much as the next person, but let's be precise at least about some of our arguments.

Don said...

Good post, Mes. But then again you usually post thought-provoking stuff.

I am a diehrd hip hop lover. Even at the age of 35, I still hold the true hip hop spirit close to my heart. With that said, I can only fault the artist to a certain extent. Most of these artist come from a low degree of living, and when faced with the aspect of making money selling entertainment against whatever else, I can feel their pain. I don't think for a minute that any of these rappers mentioned are unaware of the buffoonery taking place but money overrides most in this world.

I think the labels themselves shoulder 1/3 of the blame because they are the ones truly responsible for the material being put out. Again, money is the aim. It's the only aim.

Which brings me to the people who buy these albums. That's the other 1/3. These artist have a market for their material (good or bad). Without the fans there would be no such material being celebrated.

Blame is everywhere. We are living in the last days. Rap music is only a fraction of the infection that destroys society.



Sidebar: I am so hurt that you did not check out my old school tracks, today. I know my blog is terrible, but I thought you at least stood it enough to check out the old school flavor.

tasha212 said...

I think there are good positive aspects in hip hop mjust as there are in other subcultures. It's just that record companies have decided what images to promote. If u don't fit into that category and are not willing to change what they are about, then u don;t get promoted. The problem to me is not necessarily the negative image, but rather the lack of balance. There's only one image being projected of our people and none of it is positive. And that is not a coincidence, that is by design.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Jose,

First; I state in the piece that these images are mostly the creation of corporations. Second; I understand that there are other things affecting our community but does that mean we should overlook/ underlook the influence of rap?

And finally; whether it's 75% or 65%, my point is that rap is mostly supported by people outside of our community. And what does that say about a genre that is supposed to be an expression of urban/ Black youth? That was my point.
___________________________________

Don,

Yeah I know there is an economic element to it all, but I'm sort of tired of that excuse.

Re Sidebar; I did stop by your WONDERFUL blog today. I didn't comment because I WAS MAD AT YOU FOR STEALING ONE OF MY MUSIC POSTS FOR TOMORROW!!! Lol Okay I wasn't really mad; I thought it was funny because you are always telling me I steal yours.

Actually though I was going to post Jody by Jermaine Stewart.Lol
___________________________________

Tasha,

That is so true and that is the frustrating part of it. A bunch of old men in corporate offices are really behind hip hop and the stereotypes we see.
___________________________________
___________________________________

Don said...

@ mes: lmao. I got you. I got YOU then. Wow, you have alot of stuff I want to comment on. I can't wait. Good topics again today.

And only the fans can stop the music being generated. It begins with us. But I know what u r saying. Later.

Don said...

Oh, and good looking out on the voting ribbon.

Afrodite said...

Dr. Dre + Shoulder Pads= Pure sexiness.

jose said...

Naw, I got that. I was more thinking about the comments made on your post. Unfortunately, people can't differentiate between being critical thinkers and being righteous. Just a thought is all.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Afrodite,

Lol

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron