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Should Rap be considered Music? Here's an argument. | MarsBands.com | MarsBands
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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?

      • AJ Sims

        for the millionth time, this is rap. you have to rap, not sing! rap is not rock. it is not r&b. it is not jazz or folk. it is not a genre that requires you to sing. im not trying to be a hole here, but you folks seem to be not capable of grasping the concept of what rap music is. of course its not singing. its a different kind of music, and because of that, you are comparing apples to oranges when you complain that the rappers “don’t sing”. and again, where is it arbitrarily stated in the music rulebook or dictionary definition of music that you have to sing? classical music doesn’t have singing in most concertos or chamber music pieces or symphonies. bebop doesn’t have singing it it. techno doesn’t have singing in it. jazz fusion bands like weather report or mahavisnshu orchestra doesn’t have singing. does that mean these things i’ve mentioned isn’t music as well? no.

        “rapping isn’t just “talking”

        typical generic talking point.

        rapping takes rhythm. it takes FLOW. CADENCE. DICTION. VOCAL TONE. PROJECTION OF VOICE. you got to have a percussive-like delivery. not to mention, TIMING. all rappers with talent and skill possess these attributes and must or else “just talking” over a beat would sound terrible and no one would want to listen to you rap.

    • 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.

          • AJ Sims

            “Rap RARELY has any singing. That’s first.”

            no shit, because its rap. why would a rapper sing when thats not the method nor intended vocal style for making rap/hip hop music?

            “Second, Rage Against The
            Machine,and Linkin Park have fused rap with metal” ratm yes, but linkin park is nu metal.

            “When metal is fused with rap, singing is MUCH more
            prominent”

            umm, excuse me, zack de la rocha barely sings at all. he does harsh loud vocals to match the heavy music and even then hes rapping for the most part. and again, linkin park really isn’t a good example of metal because its hardly metal at all. its nu metal. just a band with distorted guitars and a turn table with both rap and clean singing vocals. not that its a bad thing, but not exacly what most metal heads would consider metal.

            “and the performers can actually be called musicians, becuase
            they play their instruments”

            so what? countless vocalists in all genres don’t play instrumentals nor produce or compose at all. hell, they don’t even write the lyrics. by your logic, they are not real musicians anyway. arguing over what constitutes a “real musician” is pedantic. what really matters is, do you like the work the recording artists created? do you like the songs? do you like the lyrics and instrumental? does it resonate with you? or are you more concerned over the technical skills and music educational background of the artist who played the instrumentals or composed the song? i dont know about you, im more concerned with the former moreso than the latter.

            “and the instrumental parts of their songs
            are focused upon too.”

            there are rap acts who focus on this too. look up the roots. while you’re at it, look up instrumental albums by the likes of blockhead or blue sky black death if you want some busy intricate beats. dj shadow’s entroducing album proves you can do wonders with hip hop sampling and make it musical.

            “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.”

            actually, rap acts, especially the most talented, make the effort to find great beats to rap to, even if the beats are “simplistic” or repetitive. why? because without a decent beat, you just have the rap and no song. plus how good and groovy a rap beat is, is very important. if you can’t boob your head to the beat, if the beat is poorly made, don’t have no good drums or bass a decent sample flip then the listener will probably tune out the rapper. idk about you, but i cannot listen to rappers who rhyme over wack ass beats.

            “That’s why rap isn’t really music. Rap is poetry,
            often paired with a bit of music in the background.”

            again, this is a simplistic and misleading view of rap. a rap song is structured and arranged like an actual song. it has a infectious beat. it has the rapper performing their rappers with a flow/cadence thats rhymthmically pleasing to listen to that fits the beat and the metrics of the bars within the beat. you have a verse/chorus/verse just like any song from any pop genre. regular poetry accompanied by some music is not the same as that.

      • AJ Sims

        rappers don’t sing, because its rap. do you not get that rap is a different genre of music with its own culture (hip hop), approach and methodology to musical composition? singing would defeat the purpose of rapping, so to expect them to sing is absurd. furthermore, singing isn’t the only way to produce music or to compose it. there is no one definitive way to make music. theres no rule book laying around stating that if the recording artist or performer doesn’t sing, then its not music. that is a rule you are arbitrarily imposing on all musical artists.

  • 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!

      • AJ Sims

        this is the typical appeals to “melody” and “sheet music” = real music fallacies.Actually, there are plenty of rap songs with “melody” in it. check swimming pools by kendrick lamar. or any bone thugs n harmony song. check out outkast for goodness sake. there are plenty of non-rap music that lacks a “nice melody” take for example tom waits or some of the 20th century classical music that incorporated the 12 tone technique or how about some john cage music or free jazz (hell, what about bebop or modal jazz or jazz fusion) or the residents. are all these things “not real music” since it lacks a nice melody? see why this argument is fundemetally flawed??

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

    TO THE AUTHOR: MUSIC IS MUSIC EVEN WHEN IT’S UTTERLY SIMPLE. AS LONG AS IT’S OBVIOUS THAT THE PIECE HAS SOME CONTINUENCY,EVEN IF IT’S JUST ONE RIFF – IT’S MUSIC.

  • 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.

    • AJ Sims

      “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.”

      as opposed to what, a bombastic beat? a intricate beat? just because a beat is “simplistic” doesn’t mean its bad nor does it invalidate the beat as music. not all instrumentals have to be complex or composed of a billion damn notes or comprised of several chords/chord progressions or multiple instruments incorporated in it.

      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.”

      so because you can’t write sheet music for it, therefore not real music? rap music is not like classical, jazz or rock, nor is it trying to be. rap is its own genre with its own culture and musical method to composition. also, you’ve clearly not heard enough rap because there are plenty of rap songs with melody and musical notes in it, and if you have the capability and skill to transcribe songs or improvise, its not difficult to re-interpret rap songs in a different musical style.

      “Acapella singing still has melody and musical notes”
      see, this is the problem. comparing rapping to singing and are holding rap to the exact same musical standards as singing. why is it a problem? because you’re comparing apples to oranges. rap is not singing. singing in a rap song would defeat the purpose and methodology of rapping. rap is different from singing. its a different kind of music, therefore its silly to expect rappers to sing and therefore it is even more silly to hold rappers to the same standards as singers when singing is not the intended goal for rappers in the first place.

      “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.”

      i agree with this, though music snobs with musical bias should not be the ones who determines what genres of music have “value”. no one should. its all subjective.

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