HIST R&R Project: Week 11 – Lyricism is Dead.

“They don’t know one word of the song. They don’t know one word he’s saying on the song, but they love it, it’s the beat. Music has changed, it’s up to people to change with it. Me, I’m happy with the change, because it gets me stay in my own lane. That’s what keeps me relevant, because when they’re tired of listening to that, they still gotta go to that real music, and say man I gotta listen to this, I’ve been going through it today, I gotta listen to this.” – Boosie Badazz

As much as I disagreed with this interview, Boosie has a point. Artists have an easier time today to get famous thanks to Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud, etc. HOWEVER, lyricism is not dead. Boosie is calling himself this generation’s 2Pac, as he believes he is the only real lyricist/rapper left. He believes that mumble rap is the future and everything else will fall to the wayside. It’s unfortunate, but maybe his statement is true – but barely. Like every other genre, a hip-hop listener, will seek out music that speaks to them. 

Do you remember exactly where you were when you heard a song or album that changed your life? Maybe the beat made your head bob, but you remember the lyrics of that record. You remember the way the lyrics spoke directly to you, like the song was meant for you and you only. 

I grew up on boy bands; NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block. I was sheltered I guess you could say. I had been through more as a child than any household I knew of. For the first ten years of my life, I went back and forth in a vicious custody battle, which ended with my mother walking away completely; leaving me with a father who was a behind-closed-doors abuser. However, I never really understood violence until the murder down the street from our house in suburban Cleveland happened the summer of 2004. 

Weirdly, that same summer that my cousins introduced me to Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and D12’s My Band

In all honesty, I got my ass beat when my parents caught me watching the music video for My Band, perhaps they wanted to protect me as long as they could from the “evils” of foul language and sex, as I was only 10 that year.

Then two years later, my aunt introduced me to what I consider one of the greatest albums of modern hip-hip or pop as Kirk Graves classifies him; Kanye West’s Late Registration. It was just her and I as it usually was, and as she played Roses, I realized that people had problems, real problems. And I wanted more. I spent the next couple of years still listening to the pop music my parents allowed me too, but at friends’ houses I begged them to watch MTV. 

My dad introduced me to the Beastie Boys when I was probably 12 or 13. I saw myself in Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA – probably because I was white.  From there on, I spent my time on Myspace and this website called Youtube, finding music that spoke to me, that I could relate too (and I got really good at clearing my Browser History). I found underground music or rather music that wasn’t on the two radio stations I was allowed to listen too. I became entranced with lyrics and spent my time decorating lyrics on notebook paper and taping them to my walls. I found Limewire and downloaded music late at night to my MP3 player, well until my parents went through it one day and disproved of a song by Britney Spears and took the device away – the song Slave wasn’t probably the best decision on my part – hey we live and we learn. 

Music changed my life. It helped me through the abuse and rape I endured as a teenager. It saved me like religion saves other people. It also helped me understand that the world isn’t black and white; that there is color everywhere and you can’t ignore that or pretend that it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t affect you directly. I learned more about color from Bone Thugs than I did my white washed Catholic school classroom and I learned more about the world from the songs I listened to than anyone cared to spend talking to me about. 

Even today, I couldn’t tell you if my parents are racist or if they just don’t see color or what their beliefs are in general. But I can tell you, that music, hip-hop specifically has shaped my opinion about aspects of the world that aren’t usually discussed at the dinner table.