Monday, August 8, 2011

Hip-Hop Explained For The Elderly

Note: I am aware that about 90% of Beat Dropping followers are still in college, if not younger. Take the other 10% and you have those that have freshly graduated, parents, and grandparents. The content featured in the following post is primarily directed towards senior citizens, about 2% of BD followers.*

What is hip-hop? More importantly, who above the age of 30 knows what it is? The answer is probably close to zero. Parents don't understand it and grandparents haven't heard of it. According to Webster's dictionary, hip-hop is "a subculture especially of inner city youths who are typically devotees of rap music." Youths is the key word in the definition and reinforces the notion that old people are stubbornly stuck listening to their Elvis records. I think now is the perfect time to write about this generation gap and inform the elderly on how Elvis would sound even better if he went in on a track with Akon. Why? Because potentially the best hip-hop album of the year, and maybe the decade, was released yesterday. Jay-Z and Kanye West's album, "Watch The Throne" has such a high production value and obvious talent level, that it has already gone platinum. It's been a day and a half (this would be the appropriate reaction)...and guess who made the trip with them grandpa? Your main man Otis Redding. The gap has been bridged.

Can I Get With Ya? (Bocelli vs. Biggie Smalls) - DJ Killa Kel


One of the worst excuses for not enjoying hip-hop is that they "don't understand it." If this was a valid excuse, classical music would possibly be obsolete, and definitely with my generation. Well not completely, the above mashup featuring Biggie and a Bocelli track is awesome. Here are a few things about hip-hop you may not understand, now defined in relatable terms from your possible decade:
1. Rap is urban poetry. Fan of Shakespeare? Take the rhyming schemes and the meaning behind his poems and plays, add a couple of bass lines, and you have rap. Think of Missy Elliot as Emily Dickinson's vulgar cousin.
2. "Frat Rap" is almost always bad. It's usually about how that rapper is the best rapper alive. How can you relate? If rap was prevalent in your time, Tiny Tim would be the embodiment of Frat Rap. They're both annoying and successful...
3. Notorious BIG and Tupac are the godfathers of hip-hop. They are the opposite of Frat Rap, such that they both addressed major issues in their time - mostly racial injustice. These two kings are the R-rated versions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham. Queue up the hearing aids and listen to what they're concerned about.
4. Hip-hop is a gateway to other, more recent genres. I won't even begin to try and relate dubstep to you, it's too far ahead of your time. The important thing, though, is that hip-hop, and it's musical components are the common ancestor of glitch production, house/club, and variations of electronic music. If your friend Darwin was still kicking, he'd be able to explain it.
5. The exponential improvement of athletic performance since your time, is not because athletes are bigger and faster. Their ability to continually shatter records is because of hip-hop. Sure Jesse Owens was the fastest of his time, but did he run a 9.79 in the 100 meter like Usain Bolt did after he probably got pumped up by listening to Eminem's "Lose Yourself?" I didn't think so. Your time spent in your favorite chair watching Tiger Woods make Jack Nicholson look like the average Joe can be credited to Flo Rida.**

No more excuses. Go purchase Jay-Z and Kanye West's new album, "Watch The Throne," and think about what I've talked about. Listen to what these guys are saying, marvel at the production quality, and understand that hip-hop/rap is not the music of the devil, but rather just another expression of emotion and relevant issues in the modern world. If you are old and want to voice your distaste for hip-hop or scold me for calling you out, feel free to leave a comment below. Now if you'll excuse me, my boy Otis is calling my name.

Otis - Jay-Z & Kanye West


*Statistics in this article are completely made up, and may or may not reflect an accurate representation of Beat Dropping followers. I apologize if I have offended the elderly; none were physically harmed in the making of this post.
**I also realize the ridiculousness of this statement. Not that hip-hop is a reason for higher levels of athleticism, but that I talked about Tiger in a positive light. The guy's personality sucks and he's a basket case. Rock on Jack.

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