Rap and Hip-Hop Panel Discussion - Alec Charais
The question I was most interested in having answered was based on Debra Rosethalâ€™s article â€śHoods and Woods: Rap Music as Environmental Literature.â€? Associating rap music with the inner-city gang culture has long existed, and I had always wondered what the distinction between rap and hip-hop was. This was one of the first discussions held by the panel of Alexs Pate and Melisa Riviere.
The explanation that hip-hop is a culture, whereas rap is the literature of that culture makes some sense. Alexs went on to explain that rap is a form of poetry used to literate opposition to the dominant mainstream. I find it interesting, however, that if rap is in resistance to mainstream, its commercialization has essentially watered down or eroded the principles in which it was founded.
Alexs placed this idea in excellent context. He feels that there is â€śgoodâ€? rap, non-mainstream poetry that could accurately be viewed as a descriptor of its society (this is the argument Rosenthal discusses) and â€śbadâ€? rap, which would included a more commercialized form of its music (including artists such as Nelly and Will Smith).
Melisa discussed this commercialization in much larger detail later in the discussion. She maintains that hip-hop, and therefore rap music, is still very political on a global level. In the United States, rap is no longer the tool for social change it once was. I think a big reason for this is goes beyond the mass marketing of rap as a consumer product. Rap in its â€śgoodâ€? form, and to some extent in its â€śbadâ€? form, does not reach the demographic that the polarizing music of artists such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and others in the past. Because rap music represents a domestic, territorial, and perhaps a socially biased audience, it fails to spring the masses into action in the same ways music used to.