Hip Hop as an Art form

Jay-Z’s work was eye-opening, and was a nice change of pace when compared to the usual unwarranted criticism of rap music. Now, there is no doubt that there is terrible rap music, whether it’s degrading to women, or enforcing drug use, but to write off all rap music is simply irrational. It is true that a lot of the mainstream songs of today’s rap genre fit the bill as being degrading and very offensive, but when one looks at Jay-Z this is simply not the case. He is using rap as a tool to express his life and the neighborhood that he grew up in. His raps are not meaningless works, thrown together overnight, but pieces that take a great deal of thought and deliberation. He is loud, he does brag, because that is the culture he grew up in, where cyphers allowed one to build reputations, and where hip hop competitions were used to push the music forward. Jay-Z is a perfect example of a passionate kid, following his dreams, who is able to reach his goals.
Although this piece was eye opening because I rarely listen to Jay-Z, it was not profound simply because I listen to rap and hip hop music myself. The hip hop I listen to is not useless degradation of women, or to promote drug use, but is poetry put to a beat. Where people rhyme in relation to the people they see on the subway, the tale of a kid who lost his dad when he was young, and sometimes political works, speaking against materialism and its consummation of American society. The point is that these works should not be written off immediately, simply because they are rhymes over a beat. Hip Hop can be an art form, and to regard it as anything less is to not only limit oneself to a musical genre, but to limit oneself to the lessons and cultural knowledge of those with different lifestyles than one’s own.

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