Anybody remember Eminem? You know, the first famous white rapper with a terrible childhood, teenage life, from Detroit with nowhere to turn? He released an album a year or so ago, it shot straight up the charts, stayed there, then disappeared after a music video with Megan Fox played all over the internet for months. So has Eminem, aside from tours and scarce public appearances. Dr. Dre has been like that too, throwing up a hit, then running away before the big men with scary weapons find him. So why is the Rap Genre so fleeting right now?
More than anything you can find someone who thinks they can rap or who raps to nothing right down any street you're on. Offensive to the older generations, inspiring to the 80's and 90's babies, rap won't die, but I don't think it's quite alive anymore either.
The Zombie: Rap has been embraced by the Hip Hop genre more than anything. You don't hear a "rap" song with someone spewing words in a monotone voice by themselves anymore. Now that rhythmic monotone is supported by a female or male singer in the background, giving a harmony to an otherwise dull melody. Jay-Z, Kanye West- both rappers... but mostly Hip-Hop artists, dabbling in a zombie genre, one that won't die, but won't live by itself either. Rap feeds off of everything else in a quest to continue.
My favorite song structure incorporating rap goes something like this:
- Beautiful instrumental introduction with what sounds like an orchestra.
- A verse with the rapper going full throttle, but a singer in the background saving you from falling asleep.
- A chorus that doesn't involve the rapper at all, but incorporates that singer, giving you a darling melody and harmony.
- Repeat process once. End song. Realize you're smiling.
I'd like to thank the academy on this one. Or more likely the older generations for praising Rock, Alternative, Jazz, Country, and other genres that pulled us out of our hell bent rap obsession in the late 90's early 2000's. Rap won't die, but only because the older generations didn't try to kill it. They let it live, and then some other genres started to reel it in slowly, pushing it off its own hill top.
My title references "flailing" which points to those musicians who truly believe in pure "rap" sound. That flailing is exactly what they're doing. Very few people want to hear about the anger and rage of your life anymore, as EVERYONE experiences that. But we also experience the joys of life: love, happiness, donuts that we shouldn't have but we will anyway, and music should promote that far more than anger.
Not to say that we shouldn't have some angry songs. I really did and do like Eminem. But if you sing an angry song, far more people are going to listen to it right now than they are to an angry rap song. Let Hip Hop and other genres keep the rap. It still sounds good! Just don't leave that one kid (rap) alone on the bus. If that happens, you may not be able to see who's driving.