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Response to Ben Shapiro's 'Rap is Crap'


I just finished reading Ben Shapiro’s Rap Is Crap and I can’t let it go.

I am not a huge fan of rap music. It is not the top rack choice on my iPod, and yet, I can appreciate its contribution to music and pop culture. Very few of the top 40 songs today don’t have at least a small rap section in bridge of the song. It has now been over thirty years since rap made the leap from the inner city streets to the top of the pop charts, so it’s not going away anytime soon.

All of Ben’s complaints were once said about rock and roll: lack of melody and harmony, overemphasis on rhythm, vulgar, overly sexual lyrics… Rock and roll was also called a corrupter of youth and predictions of it’s quick demise abounded. There were record burnings and organized protests against this Satan music, and today, footage of these protests are viewed comedically. Do we really want this stigma attached to Republicans any longer? Are we tired of being the punchline yet?

And it doesn’t matter if the stars of rap are bad influences on children. Please. What pop star has EVER been a good influence on children? Most of them are drug addicts with dysfunctional relationships, regardless of what kinds of music they play. I know there have been a few decent people, but they are the rare exceptions. Pop stars are paid enormous amounts of cash to be over-grown children, but that should have no bearing on their art. The criminal antics of rap musicians speak no more about the destructive nature of the music than the conduct of Boy George or George Michael reflect on eighties pop.

Yes, rap is crude, vulgar, violent, makes reference to drug use, and is demeaning to women, but so is ‘South Park,’ and very few conservatives are willing to take a stand against ‘South Park.’ Why are we so willing to accept the bad stuff in a cartoon, but rail against it in rap music? (I think we are opening ourselves for accusations of racism if we don’t accept both.)

You might not like rap music. I don’t blame you. I had to force myself to listen to it before I was able to appreciate it. But it wasn’t meant for old men like me–it is written for younger generations.

Every generation in modern history has been able to find a type of music that makes the older people cringe. In part, that is why they like it so much. Someone once said the best way to keep your kids from listening to rap is to start listening to it yourself. Drive around your hood with the windows down and Fifty Cent thumping out of the mini van and your kids will soon avoid it like the plague.

Eventually that’s what happens to every form of pop music: it mainstreams, and the next generation is forced to find something new and toxic. The Beatles started as radicals but eventually were covered by Lawrence Welk. Just the other day I was on an elevator in Downtown Chicago and it started playing an instrumental version of “Smells like Teen Spirit” over the loudspeaker. I thought it was cool, but listening to it like that for the first time, I felt really old. And I could tell the thirty-five-year-old girl next to me with the faded tattoos underneath her business suit did too. I actually think she started to tear up a little.

Instead of becoming this generation’s up tight pantywaists, we should be looking for common ground between the rap culture and ourselves. Isn’t that kind of what Big Hollywood originally set out to do: find common ground between conservatives and pop culture? Because, I think there is a lot of common ground. After all, we both have a fascination with guns and a distrust of government.

And we both get a big kick out of making politically incorrect jokes. For the most part, rap lyrics are intended to be funny. And when you become incensed, you’re letting on that you didn’t get the joke.

Don’t do that. It makes us ALL look bad.

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