Rap is more than just explicit lyrics (Opinion)

Rappers should be honored for the artistic lyrical content they create


Arizona Lee

Rap artists such as Tupac, Kanye West, and Eminem have released albums such as All Eyez On Me, One Nation, Ye, Encore, and many others.

Rap music can sometimes be criticized by people because it is perceived as music that promotes high-crime regions, drugs, and fast cars among other obscene phrases and content. Rap music is heavily accused of requiring little talent, which has an impact on the greater notion of rap music by musicians who paved the way for rap, these being lyrical rappers. These artists employ elaborate rhyme schemes, emotion, and brilliant lyrics to tell their narrative and captivate the listener’s ears in their work.

What exactly is rap? Rap is a delivery technique that incorporates rhyme, rhythm, and spoken language, and is often given over a beat. So, what’s the difference between Charles Bukowski’s poetry and your favorite rapper’s lyrics? As a result, it is clear that rap employs the same method as poetry to attain its final purpose.

Although some rap is poetry, not all rap deserves to be labeled as poetry. Rap that is considered poetry emphasizes detailed and complicated lyrics. Rap has evolved into a forum for young people to express their feelings about exploitation, discrimination, police brutality, injustice, violence, and more. Eminem, for example, has created a slew of amazing songs, including “Mosh”, in which he rants against everything that is wrong with our government. He wasn’t solely tired of Bush at the moment; he was tired of the government not listening to the people. Eminem acknowledges the pure strength and energy displayed by the youth, and urges young people to put their energies into political activism.

Due to injust police brutality and Black Lives Matter rallies in the United States, a new wave of rappers have been connected with the sub-genre in recent years, including musicians such as Joey Bada$$, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole.

The use of imagery in poetry hooks us in the same way that rap music does. For instance, Kanye West’s use of imagery in “Flashing Lights” is one of the greatest. He raps, “First class with the seat back, I still see ya / In my past, you on the other side of my memory’s museum”. West is attempting to indicate in the first part of this piece that even though he lives a life of luxury, his ex still haunts him. In the second section, he hints that he wants to keep her in his thoughts, but he feels divided from her right now, as if glass is separating them.

Both rap music and poetry have a sense of rhythm. Rap lyrics would be a condensed short story with no rhythm. Metaphors may be an impressive compliment to a song, but their metaphors are generally unique to their subculture. Tupac, being a great example of such, was not just a rapper, but also a poet. He is known for addressing modern social concerns that affected inner cities, and is remembered as a cultural figure symbolizing resistance and action in the face of inequity.

His poetry, however, goes beyond these themes, he employed extended metaphor in his piece “Rose” when it said: “Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete. / Proving nature’s laws wrong it learned to walk without having feet. / Funny it seems by keeping its dreams it learned to breathe fresh air. / Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else even cared!” In this poem, the rose is the metaphor of the poet himself who was able to come out of a bad environment and make a positive outcome for himself.

On April 16, 2018, the Pulitzer Prize Board (annual awards given for excellence in journalism, photography, fiction and nonfiction books, theater, poetry, and music) awarded rapper Kendrick Lamar the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 2017 album, DAMN. It was the first time the award had gone to a musical piece other than classical music or jazz, and the Pulitzer committee called DAMN “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African American life.” This recognition was significant since a rapper had never previously received such an award, demonstrating the strength of rap music lyrics.

In my opinion, the current issue with rap music is that there are far too many rappers and far too few poets nowadays. All rap music needs the world of the poetry to seize the opportunity for their work.

Rap music is much more than what it’s been labeled to be viewed as.