“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
I love it. The things it can do to us. The emotions it invokes. The way it makes my right foot start tapping, when I hear a great combination of notes.
The other day, I saw a segment on the news about this year’s inductees into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. To be quite honest, before the news piece, I did not know there was such a Hall, filled with famed songwriters. But there is. The 2017 inductees included Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Berry Gordy, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Robert Lamm, James Pankow and Peter Cetera of “Chicago,” Max Martin, and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter.
Now here is the part that struck me. Jay Z became the first rapper to receive this distinction in one of music’s highest honors. They made a whole-great-big-deal about this. The fact that no rapper has won this award before now…. seemed preposterous to them.
Let me say this, right off the bat. I like all kinds of music. From Alternative Rock, my favorite, to Broadway Show Tunes. Yes. I enjoy it all. Some of it, WAY more than other. But appreciate it all….. I do. While I don’t take a steady diet of rap music, there are certain songs which I have truly enjoyed.
However, I don’t equate most rap music with being high on the songwriting scale. Conversely? Rogers & Hammerstein, yes. Leonard Bernstein, yes. Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, yes. Through 2010, 414 individuals have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
But back to rap. For instance… The current number one rap song on Billboard this week is called Migos, by Bad and Boujee. And here are some of the lyrics.
(Strong Language Advisory)
You know Young Rich Niggas
You know so we ain’t really never had no old money
We got a whole lotta new money though
(If Young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot ya)
Raindrops, drop tops (drop top)
Smokin’ on cookie in the hotbox (cookie)
Fuckin’ on your bitch she a thot, thot, thot (Thot)
Cookin’ up dope in the crockpot, (pot)
We came from nothin’ to somethin’ nigga (hey)
I don’t trust nobody, grip the trigger (nobody)
Call up the gang, they come and get you (gang)
Cry me a river, give you a tissue (hey)
My bitch is bad and boujee (bad)
Cookin’ up dope with a Uzi (blaow)
My niggas is savage, ruthless (savage)
We got 30’s and 100 rounds too (grrah)
My bitch is bad and boujee (bad)
Cookin’ up dope with a Uzi (dope)
I know, I know. To some, this is music to the ear. But personally, I simply can’t buy into this as good songwriting. For a lot of reasons. I don’t think it does anyone any favors by glorifying drugs, violence, and abuse toward women.
On the other end of this. There have been beautifully written rap songs, with meaning and cultural relevance. But all in all, a large portion of them sound a lot like the one exemplified above.
So, I guess I’m being a little unforgiving to the complaints that rap has been overlooked all these years. I think, in most cases, it has been for good reason.
I’m being hypocritical though. I always talk about seeing the beauty in diversity. And it is true. We should be understanding of our differences. So I say. … . Great job Jay Z. His merits have made him deserving of this honor.
But for songs like Migos. … … well, I would rather spend “Some Enchanted Evening” in “Oklahoma” with my other favorite “Sound of Music.”
“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
― Kurt Vonnegut
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
― Victor Hugo, Hugo’s Works: William Shakespeare