If you agree with the title, you're being incredibly short-sighted.

I'm always shocked, really, when otherwise worldly and forward thinking people trot out the same lame list of grievances against rap music (for simplicity's sake, I'm not going to differentiate between rap and hip-hop), in a way that is frankly oblivious.

Not everybody is going to like rap. No genre of music is universally adored, and I think that's probably for the best. Rare is the form, however, that engenders the same knee-jerk dismissal as rap. I write in an attempt not to justify rap musically – I'm not one for arguing matters of taste – but to help clarify and enforce the music's position as culturally relevant.

To wit:

By and Large, Rap Artists Write Their Own Lyrics: In addition, a lot of rappers are also producers. Even those that don't produce, however, have this as an advantage over many of their pop brethren. It is a far more intellectually vigorous endeavor to pen 100 bars than it is to merely enter a studio and sing a prearranged, pre-written song, yet the “illiterate thug” label seems to be applied far more to rappers than pop singers.

Rappers Employ Effective Wordplay: It baffles me how scholarly types can heap praise on the bon mots of Samuel Johnson yet fail to recognize the linguistic dexterity to even compete in one round of a freestyle rap battle. Quite simply, in no other place have I ever consistently seen the type of wordplay and spontaneous wit than I do in rap battles. Period.

Rappers Are Closer to Poets than Poets Are: Ok, obviously that couldn't be entirely true. But they DO adhere more strictly to meter than (other types of?) poets do. While formal meter in poetry is not nearly as prevalent as it once was, it (or an approximation) is a necessity in rap.

And yet, my English teachers laugh when I suggest we do an entire unit on the use of literary device in Cassidy's I'm A Hustler.

Rappers Are Societally and Personally Reflective: I defy you to find more accessible personalized accounts of ghetto suffering and longing than songs by Joe Budden.

I'll wait.

Rappers Are NOT Too Violent: Seriously, do people that think that every rapper who cusses or incites violence in a song is going to do it?


Do these same people worry about the fact that California is being governed by an evil automaton from the future (they didn't see the sequels)? Do they believe that Christina Aguilera is some sort of Voodoo mistress with the power to shrink herself into a bottle? Or, for that matter, that she is “beautiful”?

I hope not. Because these are stories. Music can be fictionalized. It's not all real.

A similar subset of people, it seems, complain that rappers only want to talk about cars and money and women. For one, these songs are generally their singles. The vast majority of rappers have more introspective and daring tracks on their albums, but release singles that will be…wait for it…


People like reveling in nice things. They want to see fast cars. They enjoy looking at attractive people. And if somebody can interestingly talk about those things over a nice beat, it will sell. How is this an issue?

I never see people complaining that all pop singers want to sing about is love, or all blues singers sing about is their woman who done left them, so why the singular fascination with the singular subject of rap?

I don't know if anybody reading this believes any of these things. But it makes me feel better to have it down.