Thursday, March 02, 2006

On the Outrageousness of Hip-Hop as Significant Art

Stanley Crouch writes with about as much insight on as wide a range of topics (from Louis Armstrong to George W. Bush) as anyone alive. Today he assesses the move to exalt popular rap recordings as art that actually describes the situation of African-American people. As Crouch puts it, rap doesn't express the suffering of Black people; it causes it.

But it gets better:

This arrives through a media that has been bamboozled into thinking the expression of "black culture" can be reduced to gold teeth, pistol-waving, hedonism, whorishness, pathological narcissism, misogyny, drop-down pants and illiteracy.

And there's historical perspective:

When Elvis Presley and the early rock 'n' roll bunch appeared, they knew what they were and so did their fans: entertainers followed by teenagers. With the '60s came all of the pretensions and college students, assuming that whatever they liked should get the same credibility as what adults appreciated. We then saw the arrival of rock magazines.

It did not take long for the hustlers in rap to get the drift.

Put Crouch's column in the SWNID Must-Read Hall of Fame.

1 comment:

Calus The Great said...

This silliness has extended even farther than you might think. Last Friday night, the WCF sponsored a talk entitled "Jesus and the Hip-Hop Prophets: Spiritul Insights From Lauren Hill and Tupac." On the one hand, this is a laudable act of cultural engagement. On the other, what spiritual insights are there to be gleaned from the lyrics of a man who glorified violence and misogyny, and was convicted of sexual assault.

I personally think that there is a direct correlation between the end of the Vietnam War and the decline of popular music. Indeed, I blame Ronald Reagan for the general crappiness of American music in the 80s. Had we lost the Cold War and had a struggling economy, there may have actually been something to write songs about...