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Differing Mentalities In Hip Hop And Rock

Some of my friends listen to certain genres of rock music, some listen to hip-hop. Despite our friendship we have differing views upon each genres of music. Having listened to both genres of music at one point in my life I have an understanding of why some rock listeners would be quick to reject hip-hop as meaningful, complex and valid art form.

The production of hip-hop music first consisted of two turntables and a microphone. The originators of the music who embraced the essence of spoken word in a rhythmic format, were working with the best of what they had living in a situation of poverty. As time and technology progressed, and became cheaper, the production of hip-hop became digital. Beat machines, computer programs that sequenced samples and DAT players that recorded vocals all combined in a computer to produce a finishing product known as hip-hop. Rock music consisted of a drummer, a guitar and a bassist. As time and technology progressed the instruments of this music also changed. The introduction of the electric guitar connected to amps and speakers. Guitar players were able to distort the sound giving it a louder angrier tone. Although technological progress has changed the method in which hip-hop is produced, rock music is still traditionally played with guitarists, drummer and bassists.

The actual music being played in hip-hop is simplistic. Traditional hip-hip will not exceed 8 bars of music and is looped over and over again. It is usually a repetition of one-note with quarter note intervals or mere arpeggios, or just the use of a sample with simple bass and constant drum line. There is a reason for this simplicity. If hip-hop were more melodic, it would clutter the MC. Therefore the beat in hip-hop plays a secondary role, accompanying the MC. The focus of hip-hop music is not in the actual music being produced but is the content of the message that the MC is attempting to portray. Of course some have more meaningful things to say than others. The simplicity of hip-hop is where most of the rock listeners find hip-hop music unappealing, because of the “lack of skill” in the production of music compared to that of rock. Majority of rock music is more complex than hip-hop concerning the actual music being played. There is more effort in the production of the notes being played as it grows from a theme and is harmonized, while the drums play a more active role, as the song progresses and reaches its climax. Rock music may have repetitive characteristics but will never consist of less than eight bars. As the written music is more complex, the lyrics, regardless of there message which maybe meaningful, are more simplistic because of the nature of its delivery. The artist conventionally sings their lyrics and will have bars where the song becomes instrumental and melodic. So within the two genres of music it is a toss up between the complexities of music for the complexity of lyrical delivery.

While both genres of music maybe different in terms of the methods of which they are produced, both types of music attempt to achieve a common goal. This goal is to evoke emotion, thought or to express opinions. Yes, despite their differences there are similarities. Both hip-hop and rock, in certain genres express the same types of emotion, anger or hate. Take for example gangster rap. This genre of hip-hop sprung up from the minds of individuals living in poverty with a desire to achieve material prosperity. This in turn had made them hateful individuals towards society because of the inherited disadvantage of living in a lower class environment. Many songs deal with the illegitimate means pursued to live a lavish lifestyle, because of the lack of legitimate means to pursue them. Conversely, more darker or morbid genres of rock music expressing hate or anger have different means of portraying such emotions. The artist can manipulate the mood of their music, by deeper bass lines, changes in tempo, creating a darker setting. They can change their delivery, from singing to screaming. While most rock artist do not live in poverty, not to say that some do not, this hate or anger is turned inwards. For example, Nirvana’s depressing track off of In Utero “Rape Me”.

While some of my friends are quick to judge hip-hop as a fad or the content meaningless because of its recent commercialization, they do not understand the origins of the music. Both types of music serve to achieve a common goal. To have the listener relate to them by expressing emotion, evoking thought, and expressing opinions. The difference between them is simply a matter of how they reach this common goal.




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