The following is a written rebuttal to an article The Chicago Maroon published regarding hip-hop and rap. You can read the article here or down below.
By: Daniel Hodgman
Dear Author of THIS Article,
First I want to say, and this is important, that I am in no way bashing your opinion. Furthermore, I’m not bashing your writing, because if there’s one thing that’s evident when reading this (besides the many fallacies against hip-hop), it’s that you’re a confident and well-rounded writer. The imagery and detail contained within the confines of this piece run rampant and if I wasn’t such a concerned fan of hip-hop, I would think this article is perfect. Hell, this might be one incredible joke from the mind of a schemester with ambitions to write for The Onion and if it is the joke is on me. But it’s not, and that’s what I’m trying to get to.
I think as a writer and critic it’s also important for me to say that my aim with this letter isn’t to bash something I simply disagree with. If that were the case, I’d be writing letters like this nonstop to the many atrocious articles I read everyday. Furthermore, you must realize that this right here is all in the art of hip-hop; you had some things to say, and now I have something to say in return.
All that aside, this is why I feel the need to formulate a rebuttal.
Throughout this article you stake claims about these five artists and how their transformative minds and music have helped/been helped by the ever-changing flow of hip-hop as we know it today. For example, you state: rap artist “Future is a creature of modern rap” and that he “is a connective tissue”; Drake is “less interested in rap as a culture”; and something about Pusha-T and “collaborative arts that define modern hip-hop.” In these statements, along with many more spewed across this piece, I can’t help but notice how (to be completely honest) ignorant you are to what hip-hop and rap really is.
Let’s tackle the three statements I listed above just so you know what I’m talking about.
Regarding the rapper Future and your write-up on his upcoming Future Hendrix album you go off saying:
“Future is a creature of modern rap, a direct descendant of the genre’s new electronic bias. His latest single, “Karate Chop,” is a kind of sonic-melding blur of synths, bass thumps, and vocal jabs—a voice manipulation experiment. Future’s music can come off as almost comical, a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is.”
The first thing I want to ask you is “what is modern rap?” Is modern rap defined by the overcrowding of familiar bass drops? Is modern rap where beats simply mirror each other with Fruity Loop-like cheesy synths that sound intricate to the dumb-downed listener? Is modern rap to you what mainstream rap is to people like me? It must be. See, the reason why I’m calling you out on this is that modern rap is such a broad term, it’s a crime to limit it to mainstream rap like you do here. If modern rap were limited to the mainstream radio waves like you say, we’d have no Prodigy, Action Bronson, Flatbush Zombies, Angel Haze, Big K.R.I.T., MC Invincible, Binary Star, Blat! PACK, Danny Brown, Dice Raw, well, you get my point. See, when you say “modern rap” and then simply talk about mainstream artists, it not only makes you look bad, but it makes everyone else involved in hip-hop look bad as well.
Also, you talk about Future’s “Karate Chop,” the same “Karate Chop” that features Lil Wayne saying, “beat that pussy like Emmett Till.” Is that modern hip-hop?
Moving on, you have the nerve to put this down:
“Future’s music can come off as almost comical, a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is.”
What’s ironic about this statement is that you talk about Future’s music coming off as comical when really this sentence as a whole is comedic in its own right. When you talk about Future’s music as “a prank on the lyric and rhythmic ambition of a previous rap generation that refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is,” you point out that the past generations of hip-hop only saw MCs for what they were with the messages they shared and nothing more. Engraining this into the mind of your readers as if this is fact, you have totally missed the point and come off as someone trying to know what he’s talking about when really you don’t know anything about the subject matter whatsoever. When you think of names like Slim Shady, Nasty Nas and Dr. Octagon what do you think of? Those my friend, are alter egos in hip-hop, or in broader terms, characters made up by MCs to portray a different type of message; a message that not only is the complete opposite of what “he or she really is” but a message to distort an image and/or completely profile a new one. Furthermore, these are alter egos that all originated in what you call “the previous rap generation.”
To make your argument even more invalid, what about all of the MCs of this “previous rap generation” who claim to be “making devils cower to the Caucus Mountains?” Do you really think U-God made the devil cower? If anything, the analogies, metaphors, similes and philosophies of rappers in ALL generations are taken from what they REALLY AREN’T. U-God can’t make devils cower, Das EFX didn’t catch a Snuffleupagus and Tupac never personally “talked” to Lady Liberty. So I must ask, what do you really mean when you say “refuses to see a rapper for anything other than what he or she really is?”
The next statement I chose to feature is this:
“Drake is less interested in rap as a culture.”
How can you even bring this into this discussion? Have you talked to Drake personally about his ambitions in the scene? How is his shadowy minimalistic (which I dig) Take Care not a direct child of culture? Why do you make such a statement and not back it up with fact? Give me more dude, give me more.
Also, rap isn’t a culture. Rap is spoken word or chanted rhyme, but it is not a culture, hip-hop is. I wouldn’t grill you on this so much, but for someone who puts so many claims into this article I feel like I should mention it. To quote the legend KRS-One: “hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do.”
The third statement from your article I chose to personally portray is this:
“My Name is My Name will present the new, fully formed Push, the one who plays sidekick to Kanye on the G.O.O.D. Music label while dabbling in the collaborative arts that define modern hip-hop.”
And how exactly does “dabbling in the collaborative arts” define modern hip-hop? Are you trying to say that modern hip-hop is defined by artists working together? Are you claiming that more artists work together now than in the past? Again, what’s modern hip-hop?
I ask this because here’s the God honest truth: hip-hop has ALWAYS been collaborative. The very roots of hip-hop are made through collaboration. From the beginnings in New York City in the 70s, people and groups came together in, ahem, collaboration to share their common resistance against violence, poverty and the oppression thrown at their culture from outside forces. In fact, the tiers of hip-hop (rap, breaking, graffiti and turntablism) are all rooted together in collaboration to form the culture itself.
To further back this is the fact that rap from the very get go is collaborative. The MCs work with a producer or producers. The producers work with executive producers and mixers. Groups like Gang Starr and the Geto Boys are collaborative in their own right with multiple MCs and producers. Current groups like The Underachievers, Pro Era and Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Music label are no more collaborative than past artists. So what are you really trying to say with this statement?
I could go on and provide more examples about the ignorance of this article, like your taxing write-up on Drake and how 90s purists find it hard to “ admit how important versatility and emotional complexity are now” (News flash: versatility and emotional complexity have always been present in hip-hop. If you weren’t versatile you weren’t successful, and if you didn’t have emotional complexity you didn’t have a voice.), but I think I’ve stretched this letter pretty far.
Remember, the point of this letter isn’t to bash your opinion on the artists you chose. I could give a shit about what you like or don’t like. However, when you mold your written word with statements that are completely wrong, and even more so dense and shallow about hip-hop as a whole, I have to say something. Not only do you stake opinions as fact, you make bold claims about rap and hip-hop that aren’t even true. So I ask you this: next time you’re working on a piece on hip-hop and the artists that you love, are you going to throw in random thought from your head and present it as fact? Or will you do some research on something you clearly should know more about and get the facts straight? For the benefit of those reading your article—because brain washing is a terrible thing in its own right—I hope you choose to pick your words more carefully next time.
Also remember, what I’m doing is all in the art of hip-hop, and I don’t care how you react to this, or if you even see this, but I do hope that you understand WHY I did this. Feel free to write back to Bonus Cut with a rebuttal. We love rebuttals.