Rap for Thought

When is the last time you watched a new action movie and an old black and white movie in the same week? Even in the same month? Cultural ruts are common due to our desire to stay within the limitations we make for ourselves. Pop Culture Happy Hour addressed this subject in one of their podcasts. According to the hosts, it is important to break out of your cultural rut to be exposed to new things you may not know you enjoy. (NPR Podcast, 2014) One of the hosts discussed how she is always in a musical rut. This is something I relate to as I only listen to country music. All my personal music is country and all my radio stations are set to country channels. This is because I am familiar with the music, making it easier to enjoy. I know I like listening to country so I don’t find a need to change something I enjoy. After listening to the podcast, I realized I should engage in different types of music. And why stop there? I need to be ambitious and try new films, books, and other mediums I am not familiar with. One thing that struck me from the podcast was to be open to the narrowness of your own thinking. You can’t just tell yourself to try something new, you need to address the fact you limit yourself and break that. I learned it is okay to end up not liking something new, but I won’t know until I try.

I decided to break out of my cultural rut by listening to rap music. I traditionally dislike this type of music and never expose myself to it. I picked an artist who is known as one of the best in this genre. I listen to Pop Style by Drake on YouTube. This song came out in 2016.

ACL Music Festival 2015 - Weekend 1
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 03: Rapper Drake performs onstage during weekend one, day two of Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 3, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

After listening to the song I felt a little confused. I did not understand the message of the song or the reason behind making it. It used foul language and had a dark tone. I did not enjoy it, but I understand how people do. The creative and fast lyrics attract listeners. The dark tone could appeal to people. It was very powerful and you could hear the passion in Drake’s voice. This song was not made for someone like me. I like songs that are easy to sing along and have a lighter tone. Rap music generally has a younger crowd and therefore I cannot use it to relate to anyone outside my generation. I do not find this with country music. I will not normally listen to rap music in the future, however I am more open to trying different artists and songs in this genre. I believe the fast-pace rap songs would be more enjoyable in the right setting.

“According to the Frankfurt School, work and leisure under capitalism form a compelling relationship: the effects of the culture industry are guaranteed by the nature of work; the process secures the effects of the culture industry”(Storey 2015, p.69). This relationship is still relevant today. In the music industry, hard work creates media the mass culture uses for leisure. The music industry knows how and when to reach out to the mass culture to keep affecting popular-culture. Music, especially rap music, morphs the way people talk. Artists come up with words that turn into popular dialectic. Some of these words include: lit, turnt, pimp, holla. Rap music is the reason people talk in slang and produce new meanings for words. This shows the impact musical pop-cultural has over the mass culture. Matt Daniels analyzes the unique vocabulary rap artists use in his blog.

“Popular music operates in a kind of blurred dialectic: to consumer it demands inattention and distraction, while its consumption produces in the consumer inattention and distraction” (Storey 2015, p. 71). Popular music changes and relates back to the history of eras. Popular music tells consumers what they should like and how they should feel about it. For me, not liking rap music makes me feel less connected to my generation. The popularity and expansion of rap music has given the mass culture an edge. People feel compelled to put off the vibe they get from rap music. Their actions are unintentional. Rap music if often a distraction from life as Storey touched upon in his book.

References

Storey, John. (2015). Cultural Theory and Popular Culture (7th ed). New York: Routledge.

Thompson, Stephen. (2014, Sept 5). Pop Culture Happy Hour: Repurposing ‘The Simpsons’ and Bursting out of a Cultural Rut. NPR Podcast. Podcast retrieved   from http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/2014/09/05/346055621/pop-culture-   happy-hour-repurposing-the-simpsons-and-busting-out-of-a-rut.

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