A couple of years ago, I would play the free slots at www.Jackpot.com and try to match up the reels that would win me a shiny new razor scooter. Although just a glorified version of the old fashioned wooden plank, it looked so streamlined and aerodynamic. One day I saw a kid zooming down Cherokee Road on one, jumping cracks and having a blast. Within the next few weeks they were everywhere, and that Christmas lots of kids I know got one. I couldn't believe it when they first showed up in small convenience stores, almost like an impulse buy item. The scooter eventually lost its appeal to me, as it became commonplace and ... well, I'd look stupid on one.
In my little world, the scooter craze began in the Highlands, where I first saw it take off. Plus, there are all those skateboard types around, and I guess the foot power smell was already in the area. I don't see as many razor scooters on the sidewalks today. I imagine the madness has worn off, transferring to something else, even as I type.
So is the evolving situation of rap music. Lots of kids love rap. Many adults hate rap. Parents worry about kids liking rap, and kids worry about dressing rap-style. Oddly, lots of folks fear rap. Maybe it's the subwoofer assault in stalled traffic, or the outgoing, opinionated lyrics representing the genre. There can be lots of cussing, violent references and disrespectful comments about women, or, "bitches," a word many rappers use in referring to ladies. In a world already deemed chaotic and dysfunctional, any intrusion can feel like the last straw. Some kids sneak rap through their CD player headphones and are labeled anti-social. Others blare it for all to notice and are considered the scary ones. Personally, I find the latter the giddiest. They're probably just trying to say, "Hey! Look at me! I'm controversial and interesting!" But then again, everybody "knows" that most rappers carry guns.
Rap isn't appealing solely to kids, mind you, it's just that most real grownups simply have other debatable issues, like rude cell phone display and the overexposure to abusive Jimmy Buffet songs ... (Is that MOM saying get drunk and screw?!)
HipHop, on the other hand is a bit less raw, with more of a dance oriented production. There might be rap in hiphop, but there can't be hiphop in rap, or it'd become hiphop. It's a little confusing. Maybe Hiphop is a form of crossover rap ... (let's just call it C-Rap, for short) ... something girls can like, too! In the '80s, I used to consider rap the CNN of the streets. Just like Seattle's grunge or New Orleans' jazz, there was a lot being said from the pissed-off mouths of South Central L.A. Then somebody got rich ... yeyah, bowee! Rap and HipHop have since traveled around the multiracial globe and back.
Everyone seems to accept some of the "original" rappers...The Sugarhill Gang, of course! And what about Lou Reed and Debbie Harry of Blondie. That stuff wasn't political, just fun and fresh.
Rappers like to share the mike, pass it back and forth. Sometimes it's competitive as to who sputters the rhymes the quickest. That use to be a big deal, very testosteronic. Nowadays that's passe, though, `coz the jig is up. Even the self-proclaimed white nerds of The Bare Naked Ladies roll it off the tongue like popping corn. Women in rap and C-Rap are usually pretty and sexy, but male rappers are often fat and usually short ... BUT, they always use hot wiggly women in their videos and that makes `em look better.
I liken rap to poetry, a vulnerable form of self-expression. People seem to need stuff to rhyme. Just as beatniks used to snap fingers in coffee houses, so rappers throw fists to crotches.
Occasionally, I'll get a freestyle rapper at a Muffioky gig. They just toss out the rhythmic rhymes, spontaneously including names of audience members. I've seen some pretty good stream-of-consciousness bits.
One guy likes to communicate on the mike through his poetry. As long as he keeps it under three minutes, I give him the go-ahead. (Other people hate poetry if it's not connected to a dance beat.) I like one of Troy's poems in particular. It's called ... "Muffy."
Check out Troy Head's poetry at poetry.com and remember: rap's just poetry on a souped-up scooter, so wear a helmet!!
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