Cafe 227

Monday, August 21, 2006

What the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum Taught Me About the Demise of Rap

The thing that really jumped out at me amid the incredible achievements in aerospace engineering on display at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum (i.e., the Concorde, the SR-71 Blackbird, the space shuttle Enterprise) was this:

I found this to be so poignant in its symbolism, it actually brought me to the brink of tears. I mean, I grew up listening to rap. I consider myself a minor expert when it comes to rap. And I can unequivocally say that, much like the nuclear-capable missile pictured above could have killed thousands upon thousands of unsuspecting pinko commies, Lil John and rappers of his ilk ARE KILLING RAP. Unfortunately, the major record labels haven't taken a cue from the international community by signing talentless-rapper non-proliferation agreements.

It's easy to forget now, but rappers used to be skillful lyricists. I was painfully reminded of this as I was driving up to Pittsburgh last weekend and decided to listen to some old-school Pharcyde and De La Soul. The lyrical dexterity that these rappers exhibited stands in stark contrast to the incomprehensible, witless babble that emanates from the mouths of popular rappers today.

Personally, I blame Master P and, to a lesser extent, Juvenile. With his 1997 release "Make 'em Say Ugh!", Master P was the first rapper to substitute grunts, groans, and other ghastly sounds for actual words of the English language. Juvenile built upon this innovative style with his 1998 release "HA," in which he randomly adds the syllable "ha" to the end of each line to make words such as "house" and "checks" rhyme with each other.

Through their early efforts, Master P and Juvenile paved the way for a new generation of semi-literate and quite possibly retarded rappers who make liberal use of noises and "words" with no written equivalent or precise meaning. These rappers include the aforementioned Lil John, who is only capable of screaming two or three select phrases; the Ying Yang Twins, who alternatively shout and whisper X-rated gibberish; and Mike Jones, whose knowledge of English vocabulary is apparently limited to (1) his name and (2) trite misogynistic platitudes (i.e., about how "hoes" are "all up on him" now), which he repeats ad nauseum in every single one of his songs.

In other rap-related news, Busta Rhymes was arrested this past weekend on assault charges. Between this, the incident with his bodyguard, and the allegations that he administered a beat-down to a fan who asked him for an autograph, Busta is currently doing to his reputation what he's been doing to the English language since he released "Woo-Hah!!" in 1996.


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