Sunday, May 22, 2005

Lyrical Complexity in Hip-Hop: Part One

It had been my intention to conclude my discussion of and the artist in this post. However, it came to my attention that I had yet to full address the issue of complexity in the genre so I am going to write two more posts that expound on this topic.

The true complexity of Hip-Hop resides in the lyrics. This fact has been the cause of some debilitating confusion among some because of the connection that is often drawn between and . In some cases, this is a helpful connection, but most often it is not. There is an important difference in reading a poem and listening to a Hip-Hop song. When one reads poetry rarely is it possible to fully grasp the poet's intentions the first time through. I find myself, for instance, rereading words, lines, stanzas, and even whole poems several times before I feel that the meaning becomes tangible for me. This process of rereading allows people to grapple with extremely difficult poems and still understand them. With Hip-Hop, people do listen to the same song over and over, however the speed of the rhyming, and the format of the media makes it challenging to decipher. Most people do not rewind a song simply because they misheard or didn't understand the meaning of one word. Thus they have to wait until they hear the song again to try and pick up on a concept. In true poetry misunderstanding the meaning of one word can result in a misreading of the entire poem. Therefore, for the rapper who wishes to be complex, he cannot simply put poetry to a beat; some allowances must be made for the difficultly inherent in hearing and understanding a rap song. The Hip-Hop genre demands a different approach to lyrics than in poetry.

Assuming that the artist truly desires for his audience to understand his work, it is imperative that there be some level of simplicity in Hip-Hop so that communication can actually take place. The challenge then becomes how to create a work that people can grasp

No comments: