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Thread: Rap Music Lyrics

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Rap Music Lyrics

    Rap has gotten a pretty bad 'rap' (pun intended) over the years and I know a number of folks on Cyburbia and elsewhere have said they simply don't care for it as a musical style.

    Rap as a form is no longer novel and is well into its second generation, standing on the doorstep to its' third. My impression is that most of the folks that profess to dislike rap either: 1) have not given it a fair chance, and having heard a relatively small handful of songs conclude 'it all sounds the same' or 2) are put out by the lack of that crucial musical component - melody. Rap's two obvious strengths are its strong rhythmic elements and clear emphasis on lyrical content.

    Yes, I'm sure there are also many folks who have listened objectively to a variety of rap artists and styles and after giving its fair due conclude it's simply not to their tastes. That's perfectly okay, not every musical style is for everyone, some folks dislike jazz, rock, opera and folk music. What I'd like to encourage here, though, is for people to provide what they think are good examples of rap lyrics which may help sway folks whose minds are perhaps not already made up on the matter or are willing to give it a second consideration.

    What do your think are examples of the very best rap lyrics out there?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I think rap is now referred to generally as "hip-hop", but the terms seem to be able to be used interchangeably. For the sake of this discussion we should probably stick with rap though.

    I'm not exactly a rap aficionando by any means, but I'll occasionally listen to it on the radio and I've downloaded some songs from artists that I like. Back in H.S. I listened to quite a bit of rap. For me, the beats are more important than the lyrics, although it is neccessary for the lyrics to properly flow and match the tempo of the beats. The art of rapping seems to be the ability to mix lyrics with beats in a musical style. The best artists can lay down tracks that are so infectiously good that you can't get them out of your head.

  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I think rap is now referred to generally as "hip-hop", but the terms seem to be able to be used interchangeably. For the sake of this discussion we should probably stick with rap though.
    Yes, rap is considered a subset of hip hop these days. The style has, of course, splintered and fused with other musical styles multiple times over the last three decades (as musical styles tend to do when talented artists get hold of them). The term 'rap' was chosen deliberately because it refers to the practice of rhythmic rhyming poetry in its most basic, raw form. Let's stick with the term for the purpose of this discussion.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  4. #4
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    I love both. My ipod is filled with it, it's what I chose to work out to. FWIW, I was reading in my fitness magazine that 120-140 beats per second are the best songs to work out to, so that must be where my propensity for rap/hip hop and hard metal fit in at the gym.

    Best lyrics...99 problems but a *&^%%$ ain't one...

    Ha! JK.

    I can't think of any complete lyrics off the top of my head, but here's one sentence I like :"Don't talk about it boy, Be about it boy". Words to live by, in my opinion. (ok, but in the rest of the song is highly intelligent stuff like this "we can hit your place, we can hit my place, she's on my top 8, I bagged her off of myspace")

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    i think the two single biggest detractors to hip-hop over the years have been gangster rap and the subsequent glorification of the lifestyle (drugs, violence, guns etc) and the development of 'hip-pop'. personally i think the gangster rap movement was a valid expression of life and the social ills and norms that people live with every day in some parts of the country just like grunge was an expression of disillusionment felt by a particular subset of white suburban youth. the 'hip-pop' that has been coming out in the last few years however is just a dumbed down version of a true art form created for wealthy suburban kids to pretend that they are 'from the streets' or 'real' or what have you. this snippet on yahoo gives a good description of 'rap' and 'hip hop' as seperate but related things.

    the good (true?) artists of the genre have strong precedence in jazz and blues and speak on things that mean something to them as artists. some rap about society (KRS-One), some make weird artistic statements (Quasimodo) and others blend genres together to make something really interesting (Wax Tailor and Madlib.) Blue Note (the jazz label) recently released a series called 'Droppin Science' which chronicles some of the more sampled jazz releases in their catalog and relates them to new artists that are using the samples.

    now that i have digressed - artists with good / interesting lyrics and musical compositions:

    wax tailor
    beastie boys
    madlib (and his hundreds of alter egos) - the 'shades of blue' series is incredible
    guru - jazzamatazz albums are all really good
    run dmc
    grandmaster flash
    x-ectutioners
    jurassic 5
    de la soul
    arrested development
    nwa
    kwest the mad lad - one of my favorite bits is from an mc competition where he absolutely destroys the guy challenging him

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I'm like Cello in that I ignored it after Grandmasterflash and the Furious Five, and RUN DMC. I do occasionally like Eminem though.

    I always thought the Beastie Boys were good but just too humorous to have a serious message. Incidently rap has come a long way from its first commecial success, "Rapture" by Blondie.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    The "C" is silent

    Maister, you left off the first letter in the genre's title.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    It's a southside revival. Put your hands high
    Let your arms be the pillars that be holding up the sky
    I heard a few heads say that hip hop was dead
    Not its not. It's just malnourished and underfed

  9. #9
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force
    Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
    Run DMC
    Curtis Blow
    Public Enemy
    Eric B and Rakim
    Tribe Called Quest
    De La Soul
    Arrested Development

    I also like some of the international hip hop like Orishas (a group of Cuban exiles living in France) and Cashless Society (South African). Africa in general has an interesting, burgeoning hip hop scene.

    I went to the Experience Music Project some years ago in Seattle and they had a nice exhibit on the history of hip Hop. In a video they had playing, Chuck D (Public Enemy fame) said something that sums up my feelings about hip hop. It was something like this:

    Hip Hop gave voice to a lot of local stories that were happening in the black community - stories that we were not hearing through other media. Suddenly you were getting pictures of what life was like in New York, LA, Houston, Chicago, etc. These were local stories and the art form was very democratic in this sense - it gave voice to a lot of powerless people. Of course, that doesn't mean everyone had something positive or worthwhile to say, but that's the nature of democracy - the people get a voice, regardless of the content. Over time, the sentiments that resonate with people and mean something float to the top.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  10. #10
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    While most of the rap that gets played on the television and the radio these days though is utter crap, there is plenty of good rap out there if you look for it.

    And I agree... I consider rap a subset of the larger hip-hop genre. To me, both have there own very distinct beat, cadence and rhythm structure (especially when compared to pop/rock music) but rap has a much more defined focus on the lyrics.

    Some of my favorites (along with an album recommendation):
    MC Frontalot - Nerdcore Rising
    Buck 65 - Situation
    De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
    The Streets - Original Pirate Material
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  11. #11
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Maister, you left off the first letter in the genre's title.
    Like I said not all musical styles are for everybody. As a young music major I tried in vain to acquire a genuine liking for opera but no matter how many examples I listened to I never managed to achieve that. There are a few individual compositions (e.g. the Marriage of Figaro, or the Magic Flute) I like, but as a whole I've concluded opera will forever remain an art form alien to my heart.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Rap has gotten a pretty bad 'rap' (pun intended) over the years and I know a number of folks on Cyburbia and elsewhere have said they simply don't care for it as a musical style.
    Count me in.
    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Maister, you left off the first letter in the genre's title.
    Agreed.
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Jakers's avatar
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    Common
    Alkoholics
    The Roots
    Tribe called quest
    Gang Star
    Bone

    There are a ton of good intelligent artists in the hip hop world. Most are east coast. West coast rap is lame uneducated uninspired testosterone. Some is ok like Mac Dre, keak da sneak, and some others but for the most part it sucks. I like hip hop. it makes me feel empowered.
    "Inside Joke"

  14. #14
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    Its in the name of the father we ride
    Right or wrong only God will decide
    This mis-diplomacy’s not right but we try
    They don’t play fair the sharecroppers profits are marginalized

    For law enforcement the farmer resorts to homicide
    We fought for our lives before this mess
    Check the story past its packed with distress
    Shredded dignity, a scrap of prospect left in me
    Lead a pistol empty. Shotgun got something for the enemy

  15. #15
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I am far from a hip-hop/rap expert, but have been a fan for a while because I like the beat and I like most of the lyrics (I don't like glorified gansta/playa lifestyle). I love the social statements that have been made through rap, including the darker gangsta rap from the beginning of that movement that talked about injustice, real life on the street (not in a glorifying tone), etc. Public Enemy and NWA were two that really got my interest.

    Rappers in heavy rotation on my iPod include Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Arrested Development and the Fugees.

    My current favorite right now is actually an alternative hip-hop band called Flobots, based out of Denver. They do some great stuff with their lyrics, with a strong element of social consciousness. Their instrumentation is really unique as well, using live guitars, basses, trumpets and strings rather than a recorded sample as much.

    It's hard to excerpt their song "Handlebars", which is probably their best known, but here's a piece. It's pretty much about our ability as people to destroy and create, and how great innovation and creativity is turned into ways to oppress. It's starts out with far more innocent and optimistic innovations, gradually getting darker toward the end of the song.

    Look at me
    Look at me
    Driving and I won't stop
    And it feels so good to be
    Alive and on top
    My reach is global
    My tower secure
    My cause is noble
    My power is pure
    I can hand out a million vaccinations
    Or let'em all die in exasperation
    Have'em all grilled leavin lacerations
    Have'em all killed by assassination
    I can make anybody go to prison
    Just because I don't like'em and
    I can do anything with no permission
    I have it all under my command
    I can guide a missile by satellite
    By satellite
    By satellite
    and I can hit a target through a telescope
    Through a telescope
    Through a telescope
    and I can end the planet in a holocaust

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  16. #16
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Some of my faves:
    "Kick in the door, wave in the 4-4
    All you heard was Poppa don't hit me no more"
    -"Kick in the Door" by Notorious B.I.G.

    "Rollin' down the street, smokin' indo, sippin' on gin & juice
    Laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind"
    -"Gin & Juice" by Snoop Doggy Dogg

    And I just love how Eminem made fun of nearly everyone in the late 1990s/early 2000s. A prime example:
    "You think I give a damn about a Grammy?
    Half of you critics can't even stomach me, let alone stand me
    "But Slim what if you win wouldn't it be weird?"
    Why? So you guys can just lie to get me here?
    So you can sit me here next to Britney Spears
    Sh!t, Christina Aguilera better switch me chairs
    So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst
    And hear 'em argue over who she gave head to first"
    -"The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem

    But yeah, my favorite rappers would have to be, along with my favorite albums by them:
    Dr. Dre (Chronic, 2001)
    Notorious B.I.G. (Life After Death)
    Outkast (Stankonia)
    Eminem (The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show)
    Snoop Dogg (Doggystyle)
    Nelly (Country Grammar, Nellyville)

    There are also plenty of other songs I like from other artists, but the rappers listed above are the ones that I enjoy several songs from. I like a few newer songs here and there, such as a couple from T.I. and Kanye West. But I'm really picky when it comes to rap. There's so much crap out there and the albums are typically very uneven. Classic hard rock is really where it's at for me.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  17. #17
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I've always been a fan of:

    Mos Def
    Talib Kweli
    The Roots
    Method Man

    These four always rapped about a lot more than the typical street stuff, much of it pretty politically charged (though just like the politically charged lyrics of Rage Against the Machine, I often didn't agree with the politics but liked the music). I remember seeing Mos Def on some TV show explaining that he and Talib Kweli were what he liked to refer to as "coffeehouse rappers".

    And back in high school and the first year or so of college I liked:

    Jay-Z
    Wu Tang Clan (featuring Method Man of course)

    And there are plenty of Dre, Tupac, and Biggie songs that I know and still love in a nostalgic kind of way. Most rap of the past five years I can't stomach - too much hook, not enough story.

    Favorite lyric:

    They took my rings
    They took my Rolex
    I looked at the brother
    Said damn, what's next?

    -Warren G
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Ok, now I have all kinds of rap lyrics in my head. This one popped up as particularly memorable/salient. Public Enemy from Night of the Living Baseheads (Album=It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back). Its about crack, if you didn't guess:

    Here it is
    BAMMM
    And you say, Goddamn
    This is the dope jam
    But lets define the term called dope
    And you think it mean funky now, no
    Here is a true tale
    Of the ones that deal
    Are the ones that fail
    Yeah
    You can move if you wanna move
    What it prove
    It's here like the groove
    The problem is this - we gotta' fix it
    Check out the justice - and how they run it
    Sellin', smellin'
    Sniffin', riffin'
    And brothers try to get swift an'
    Sell to their own, rob a home
    While some shrivel to bone
    Like comatose walkin' around
    Please don't confuse this with the sound
    I'm talking about...BASS
    ...

    Yo, listen
    I see it on their faces
    (First come first serve basis)
    Standin' in line
    Checkin' the time
    Homeboys playin' the curb
    The same ones that used to do herb
    Now they're gone
    Passin' it on
    Poison attack - the Black word bond
    Daddy-O
    Once said to me
    He knew a brother who stayed all day in his jeep
    And at night he went to sleep
    And in the mornin' all he had was
    The sneakers on his feet
    The culprit used to jam and rock the mike, yo
    He stripped the jeep to fill his pipe
    And wander around to find a place
    Where they rocked to a different kind of...BASS

    Public Enemy Night Of The Living Baseheads
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  19. #19
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I'm listening to some rap on Pandora right now.

    Mix of Wu-Tang, Biggie, Mobb Deep, Nas, Tribe Called Quest, Dre.......very good stuff. Takes me back to my mid/late high school-early college years.

    Nice Jay-Z line SWMich!
    Last edited by btrage; 31 Mar 2009 at 3:16 PM.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  20. #20
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Best lyrics of all time:

    You can't i-n-c me, the
    Ace n%%#, so be ghost like amity-
    -ville horror, till tomorrow, you're done
    So jet like delta, I'm fly like the nun
    My mental state's, more great than the lakes
    I'm Superior, it's Erie how I breaks
    N%%#s down, with the sound as I shine
    One time, and the chrome is the mind

    Masta Ace, "Sittin' on Crome"

    My faves include:

    The Roots
    Common
    Wu Tang Clan
    Jeru the Damaja
    The Streets
    Guru
    ED OG
    Mos Def
    Talib Kweli
    Ceelo
    Outkast
    Dilated Peoples
    Public Enemy
    Brand Nubian
    Fat Joe
    Big Pun
    (Mad)Skillz
    Nas
    Leaders of the New School (when Busta was good)
    etc.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Old School!

    I wanna rock right now. I'm Rob Base and I came to get down.
    I'm not internationally known but I'm known to rock the microphone!

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Not Really A Fan, Mo Fo

    This Bear is not a big fan of rap or hip-hop. I do enjoy some Eminem and Kid Rock. Although many would argue that Kid only morphs-in some rap-style to basic lyrics/music/country/rock.

    The lyrics do not bother me. What bugs me is that most of it sounds the same. Probably because I am old and am supposed to feel (hear) that way.

    BTW, my initials are (for real) MFR.



    Back to the hood!

    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    I have been a fan of hip/hop/rap whatever since the late 80's and for me it hit its peak for my music of choice around 2003/2004, right about where i started to work. I still listen here and there, but i stay away from the radio garbage hip hop that is out there (does the song cyclone or kiss you through the phone ring a bell? Utter garbage). Like NAS said, "Hip Hop is dead."

    As an musical art form, i think people just have a problem with the massage. In 8th grade catholic school, our teacher let is dissect rap songs to reveal the message or poetry that the lyrics have (i know shocking). But when you peel apart the beats, and the rapping part you have just some real moving stuff, that if found in a poem or even a "rock song" one would just be blown away by the power (i.e):

    No love from my daddy cause the coward wasn't there
    He passed away and I didn't cry, cause my anger
    wouldn't let me feel for a stranger
    They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless, but all along
    I was lookin for a father he was gone
    I hung around with the Thugs, and even though they sold drugs
    They showed a young brother love
    I moved out and started really hangin
    I needed money of my own so I started slangin
    I ain't guilty cause, even though I sell rocks
    It feels good puttin money in your mailbox
    I love payin rent when the rent's due
    I hope ya got the diamond necklace that I sent to you
    Cause when I was low you was there for me
    And never left me alone because you cared for me
    And I could see you comin home after work late
    You're in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate
    Ya just workin with the scraps you was given
    And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin
    But now the road got rough, you're alone
    You're tryin to raise two bad kids on your own
    And there's no way I can pay you back
    But my plan is to show you that I understand
    You are appreciated

    I really love 2pac (everything prior to All eyez on me), Jay-Z (with his greatest album being Reasonable Doubt, "classic, should have went triple" and everything after the Blueprint being heh), Common (loved "Like Water for Chocolate), Mos Def, Twalib, Ghostface Killah, the WU, Eminem (well, only his "the Marshall Mathers LP" and the "Slim Shady LP"), Notorious BIG, Tribe Called Quest and some other early stuff here and there from NWA, Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One, Ice Cube that makes me remember the 90's.

    I guess i am really attracted to the stories told in the song, than the beat. I mean common, listen to the 10 crack commandments from BIG and tell me that doesn't make any sense?

    The problem with rap started in the late 90's and it has transformed to what it is today: commercialized and everything seems to revolve around the same thing (lyric content wise). Talk about woman, some party, drinking/smoking weed, money, and talk about my ride and bam! i got me a rap song. Slap on a good beat to it and the next thing you know i am Joaquin Phoenix rapping at a club. The stories aren't real any more, the message is lost. It's like listening to a damn infomercial for suburban kids/inner city kids on how to get "hood rich". Just sickening. I will stick to electronica/acoustic rock from here on out.

    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    i think the two single biggest detractors to hip-hop over the years have been gangster rap and the subsequent glorification of the lifestyle (drugs, violence, guns etc)
    I always chuckle when i hear the "gangsta rap" reference. Glorification? Hardly. It was the early/mid 90's and race relations weren't the greatest, especially from points where the music originated (i.e. LA, to which during this time, the riots took place, the OJ thing you name, and plus gang violence was at its peek at this time period for LA) so the music really was just a reflection of what was happening on the ground. And plus the beauty of the lyrics make for drop dead funny rock songs like dynamtie hack's version of "Boyz in the Hood" from NWA. Download and just think to yourself, a white guy sang this?

    Quote Originally posted by cellophane View post
    and the development of 'hip-pop'. personally i think the gangster rap movement was a valid expression of life and the social ills and norms that people live with every day in some parts of the country just like grunge was an expression of disillusionment felt by a particular subset of white suburban youth. the 'hip-pop' that has been coming out in the last few years however is just a dumbed down version of a true art form created for wealthy suburban kids to pretend that they are 'from the streets' or 'real' or what have you.
    So on dude.

    Quote Originally posted by Jakers View post
    There are a ton of good intelligent artists in the hip hop world. Most are east coast. West coast rap is lame uneducated uninspired testosterone. Some is ok like Mac Dre, keak da sneak, and some others but for the most part it sucks. I like hip hop. it makes me feel empowered.
    I tend to disagree with this, just because NWA, Dr. Dre and others who represent the west coast pioneer days have some great skills. In general, newer hip hop just makes me feel uneducated listening to it.


    BTW, the song lyric was "Dear Mama" by 2pac.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I like the satirical numbers

    Keep it down, F-bombs are audible. I especially like the steel guitarist "scratching."


  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Rap as a form is no longer novel and is well into its second generation, standing on the doorstep to its' third. My impression is that most of the folks that profess to dislike rap either: 1) have not given it a fair chance, and having heard a relatively small handful of songs conclude 'it all sounds the same' or 2) are put out by the lack of that crucial musical component - melody. Rap's two obvious strengths are its strong rhythmic elements and clear emphasis on lyrical content.
    Oh please. If anything in life will induce a migraine, it's rap. There are no good lyrics; it sucks. It gives anyone with a brain a headache. I Have to give it a fair chance, it's everywhere here; I'll walk out of a store playing it, only after telling the manager, you've lost me as a customer. (I sound like my MOm when we played Grand Funk Railroad...). Maister, you are playing too liberal (aren't you too old for this?)
    Last edited by Maister; 01 Apr 2009 at 8:05 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags

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