The other day I scrolled through my Facebook updates as usual, and someone’s status caught my attention. Fellow Afropunk.com member, Oni, wrote: “It's always Metal vs. Rap. Even though I don't listen to rap, I have a feeling that people really need to grow up.” That is all to familiar. I find myself in similar quarrels more frequently than I should. As a music fanatic, however, it’s natural to jump to your favorite genre’s defense. In this particular showdown I stand behind both, because they have equally impacted my life. Rap and Rock have more in common than you think.
Rap vs Rock: A Ultimate Pointless Never Ending Debate
Words Amber Alexander for Afropunk.com
In it’s infant stages, Hip Hop was an innovative sound simply used for dancing purposes. Shortly thereafter it advanced, serving as a platform for urban youth to discuss things they faced on a daily bases from their crime ridden neighborhoods to struggling for a dime. But it did not end there. Bands like Public Enemy used militant style lyrics to uplift the black community and send political messages while artists like LL Cool J spit smooth love ballads and songs boasting about his talent. Later came gangster rhymes that glorified murder, mistreatment of women and other topics of the sort as well as mafia influenced tunes complete with samples from films like ‘Scarface’ and destructive lyrics. Meanwhile, a more conscious sound had already begun to make waves. Groups like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul put their own spin on Hip Hop with mellow flows over sophisticated jazzy beats. Of course there’s more but I would be going for days, back then there was variety. Rap was the pulse of the ghetto, music for inner city rebels. It went against social norms, broke barriers, and exposed the hood to the world. Today it’s watered down and mundane to say the least. Despite this drastic turn, I continue to listen because no matter what, that’s where my half my heart lies. Where is the other half? In Rock ‘n’ Roll, duh.
Growing up my dad played a wide variety of Rock including Psychedelic, Garage, Blues, and more though it wasn’t until my later in my life I got into hardcore music like Punk and Metal. Let me tell you, there is nothing like the sound of guitars and drums ripping through your ear canal beneath deafening vocals. What a rush! Although Rock sounded nothing like that initially, overtime it became rebellious, gritty, and aggressive. How exactly did we evolve from slick conks to liberty spikes? Simple, a new generation of youth chose to break free from previous boring old ideals and concoct an identity of their own through attire and music. ‘Misfits’ they were called with their offensive t-shirts and safety pinned jeans that jammed to ‘noise’ all day long. I call them pure f-ing geniuses. Memorable figures like Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and Bad Brains front man HR in his prime embodied the soul of true punks whose f the world attitude represented those who felt oppressed in a stiff society. I feel like that every day of my life.
Fast-forward to 2010 where overpriced studded jackets are sold at almost every snooty boutique and the average high school student regards Blink 182 as classic Punk. Umm, barf. Not to mention this pretentious Indie Rock craze taking over and what my boyfriend describes as ‘corporate metal’ for the mainstream crowd. Yawn. Give me the real stuff.
Both Rock ‘n’ Roll and Hip Hop have contributed a great deal to popular culture. Even though Rock came about decades before, their beginnings are very much alike in that they were once underground, street, and anti-establishment plus created by Black people. If you put things into perspective, Rap is Rock’s younger cousin. So whether you’re into Tupac or Dead Kennedys, arguing to prove which genre is superior is a waste of precious time. We’re all family.