Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rap and the City

...and now for something completely different

For all intensive purposes rap is considered to be the most 'urban' music.  This is not to say anything else besides the fact that it is almost always related to the urban environment, and addresses urban issues, some more serious then others.  At the most 'superficial' level artist often use the city for the complete theme of tracks.  That overarching theme is the purpose of this post.  Not to analyse or critique the competence or validity of individual artists, or the genre as a whole.

On this most basic level a lot can be learned about perceptions of what it means to be urban by understanding the art that is produced there.  In the past some rock artist have used the city as a back drops for songs, think 'House of the Rising Sun', but no genre, rock included, address the city in the same way that rap does.  I am not going to speculate exactly why this is as I am not a rapper and not a part of the rap scene by any means besides the fact that I listen to it.
What I can say is that at the least, this aspect of Rap is one of its most interesting traits.  Below are a few videos that address this issue.  From talking about city pride, discussions of crime, discussions of possibilities, to simply using the city as imagery to designate a place of belonging.  Take a look at these extremely diverse videos.  I can only imaging how some of the architects of the structures seen in these videos would react to their works being portrayed in this way.  At the least I would hope that they would be interested to know they are the symbols of these great cities. (NSFW)

and of course

1 comment:

  1. This song, introduced to me by Jason V, plays in my head whenever I walk through my Bed Stuy neighborhood, as people say hi from their stoops.


    My landlord tells me that these people are truly tied to their 'hood; they stay within its radius. Even though Manhattan is 30 minutes away, there's no reason to leave their own urban backdrop. Brooklyn has major pride, and it has every reason to: the sense of place is unmistakable. Since Bed Stuy is the neighborhood or former neighborhood of Biggie, Santigold, JayZ, (the list goes on) I do feel like I get to experience the specific urban culture of their songs.