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You Call This Music?


I have a feeling I’m going to make a few enemies with this article, but I’m OK with that.  However, I won’t be saying anything that others before me haven’t said.  What constitutes music?  More specifically, and to the point, why is Rap considered music?

Firstly, I would like to provide why I think Rap isn’t music.  It’s not convoluted; it’s pretty straight forward (in fact, this article isn’t going to be very long as it’s more of “here’s my opinion, what’s yours?”).  When you are in a coffee house and there’s a guy on stage playing the bongos and another guy standing at the microphone reading poetry, is that considered music just because there are musical sounds accompanying it?  No, of course not.  So, at it’s best, my argument is that Rap is a crude, very crude, version of poetry.  After all, the words, even if some of them are made-up, rhyme.  And as a side note, yes, poetry should rhyme.  If it doesn’t rhyme, it’s just story-telling.  I digress.

So there it is.  I just laid it all on the line right there.  So someone could argue, if they wanted to, that Cake doesn’t make music, or at least, some of their songs aren’t music.  For that matter, even Bloodhound Gang’s music shouldn’t be considered music since it’s simply talking accompanied by musical sounds.  But still, I maintain that Rap is as much music as a chicken-fingers are actual fingers of chickens.

And as if calling Rap “music” wasn’t enough, they actually give out awards to Rappers.  I heard last year they were going to have a new award to give out and it was going to be called “Most Incoherent, Vulgar, Mono-Toned, and  Unoriginal Rambling Accompanied by a Video with Half-Naked Women Award”.  The only problem was that they were having a hard time figuring out who to give the award to since it pretty much encompassed the entire field of Rap “music”.

You’ve got my opinion.  Let me know what you think.  Is Rap music?  Don’t care?  Leave a comment, argue amongst yourselves.

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  • Pooney88

    Dude have you ever listening to The Roots or Rage Against the Machine. What about Cypress Hill? The Beastie Boys? And Poetry doesn’t HAVE to Rhyme. Ever heard of Free-verse? Rap is music. And music does not require Instruments. Ever heard of A Capella?

    • Anonymous

      You make some valid points, though, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Thanks for commenting!

    • drumcorps44

      A Capella is singing. Rap is not singing, it is talking. So since singing equals music, and rap is not singing, then rap does not equal music.

      • http://www.marsbands.com Mars

        I think this is an excellent point, drumcorps. Music needs to have singing, which Rap generally doesn’t have. You have a very simple formula there. Thanks for sharing!

      • Poppin45s

        Rapping isn’t talking go listen to a fucking rap song and tell me if you know anyone who talks like that. In rap niggas flow in a way that’s like chanting. If they’re talking then it’s not rap. Anything can be music anyway. If I play a saxophone then it’s not considered music since the saxophone doesn’t sing huh?

    • http://www.marsbands.com Mars

      Pooney, personally I feel that poetry must rhyme to be considered poetry. When it doesn’t rhyme, they call it Free-Verse. If it were poetry, they wouldn’t have to make up a new word for it.

      And while I agree with you that music doesn’t require instruments, it does require singing, at least on some level. Rap doesn’t usually provide singing. I appreciate you sharing your opinions, though! Thanks!

      • mia

        so because rappers dont “sing” it isnt music? please give me your definition of singing. is it defined as making musical sounds with your voice. if so many rap artist do this of course there verses aren’t recited in monotone.Melody is defined as Rhythm combined with pitch. poetry doesnt hold a rhythm? I mean rap does stand for rhythm and poetry. and pitch is the a standard degree of highness or lowness used in performance. Rappers change the pitch of their voice all the time depending on what verse or word they want to stress.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Rocker/100005117890255 Ron Rocker

          Dude, nothing personal, but your point has little validity.
          Rap RARELY has any singing. That’s first.
          Second, Rage Against The Machine,and Linkin Park have fused rap with metal, and that’s something different. When metal is fused with rap, singing is MUCH more prominent,and the performers can actually be called musicians, becuase they play their instruments, and the instrumental parts of their songs are focused upon too. While in rap “songs” the focus is almost solely on the lyrics, and the instrumental part(usually referred to as “beat”) is of little importance. That’s why rap isn’t really music. Rap is poetry, often paired with a bit of music in the background.

  • http://www.facebook.com/biagio.farina Biagio Farina

    I agree that rap is not music ..it is a groove, RAP stands for rhytmn and poetry.. technically you cant write rap in music form ..like a nice melody ..there fore its not considered music.. .

    • http://www.marsbands.com Mars

      That’s an excellent point. I think it should be pointed out, however, that while some may not consider Rap to be music (myself included), that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Thanks for sharing your opinion!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Rocker/100005117890255 Ron Rocker


  • asdf

    You call this journalism?

  • XAV

    Pretty sure you won’t see this, but if you do, PLEASE take the time to read this: http://englishiiiochs.wikispaces.com/Rap+as+an+Art+Form
    It was for class and I’d been reading too many Cracked articles at the time, but it should get the point across.

  • XAV
  • Asher

    First of all, a rap song isn’t just lyrics, there is a beat too. Now, we can all argue for days if rap beats are any good or not, but that is just personal opinion and does not pose any meaning to the objective question of “is it music?” And the answer to that question is yes. Rap beats are melodic and rhythmic, therefore making it music. You can use this aspect alone to prove that rap music is music. Now on to the lyrics; many people claim that rap is just “talking” over a beat. This is is false (even though if it was true, it would still be music for the reason that I provided earlier about the beat). Rapping may not take any kind of singing talent, but where it lacks in melody, it greatly compensates in rhythm. Rap as genre is a very rhythmically oriented genre, as it follows the black tradition of syncopation–the musical practice of accenting a normally weak beat and results in intricate and complicated rhythms–that was first introduced to Americans when slaves came over. Rappers use very interesting and exact rhythmical delivery that is in fact difficult and takes skill. And for all of you that claim that rapping takes no skill, and anyone could do it, I would love to hear you rap as well as the professionals.

  • Toads

    For a good chunk of rap the only thing that makes it fit into the category of music vs spoken word poetry, is the beat. Often a simplistic beat. There are various elements that make up music and rap is lacking most of them. For example it’d be difficult to write sheet music for rap when it has no melody or musical notes. Acapella singing still has melody and musical notes, the majority of rap doesn’t. The only music element it has is a beat. This is why people view rap as simplistic and may even claim it’s not music. I think it qualifies as music, but just barely. That doesn’t mean it can’t have value though, spoken word can be a powerful thing.

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