For the record, I am still white… I say this so that you know I am not trying to be anything other than what I am. I do not even really tan, I burn. So sometimes I am red, but usually I am pretty white.
I grew up a child of classic 80s rock… That was what I was exposed to for the most part. I liked opera at an early age, but heavy classical and jazz and blues came to me in college… And so did a superficial listening of hip hop and rap… That does not mean what I was listening to was not good or vital, it was just what was easy to get to… Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Grandmaster Flash and The Sugarhill Gang… As I got older, I started listening to more… Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tupac… and while perhaps I could not fully understand where the music was coming from or the experiences behind it… I found some identity with a lot of the rhymes I was hearing. Rap and Hip Hop was truly an art form and a vital part of music. It took me a while to get that, but it is absolutely true… Just look at the far reaching effect it has on most modern music.
We can all identify with Eminem on “Lose Yourself,” if not in his specifics, certainly in our own. That song is like an anthem for the struggling artist. So the more I listened, the more I appreciated and the more I liked. I still shy way from the stuff that wants me to “slap the ho.” I just cannot pull that off, and most of the time, I don’t want to…
I was watching another great music documentary last night, Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme and seeing Mos Def reminded me how much I really enjoy his music. He’s also one hell of an actor.
The film shows you just how much these rappers have to know, not only about language but about the world, or at the very least, their world. They speak poetic truths. An am improv guy, I know how hard it is to come up with anything off the cuff, especially rhythms and rhymes. Knowing that Supernatural reads the dictionary makes perfect sense, as his command of the language is amazing. I used to say I was going to do that, but like too many things, I just never did.
Mos Def – The Ecstatic
I was watching PBS a while back and saw Mos Def on Austin City Limits, I think… Great performer… Such range. This was the album he was performing most from.
Then seeing him in this documentary reinforced how much I like him. While I admit that I do not listen to rap or hip hop on a daily basis, I do enjoy a lot of it.
On this one, it is all about the beat and the message. Mos stretches the landscape and utilizes many different genres in both his sampling and his own style. He makes me want to explore more… and there is a lot I want to listen through. The last Kanye West definitely needs a more thorough listening.
The language of love may be universal, but it still takes a connection of two… the language of music can open the world and grab so many people all at the same time