By now you may know this about me, but over the past few months I’ve been obsessing over hip hop and rap music. I’ve been discovering more and more about this genre that I’ve really been missing out on for quite a while, and it’s amazing. I always thought hip hop was this whole “fuck bitches” world full of superficiality and profit-driven music making. Little did I know, there was this whole world of artistry and creativity existing in the shadows that I never knew about until a few of my friends started sending me links to this and that video on YouTube. I still don’t know enough about this genre, or the artists within it, but I thought I’d offer up my two cents to anyone who is currently in the “rap music sucks” world that I lived in for the majority of my life.
I’m sorry in advance if I say anything stupid in this post, but I’m just saying what I currently know about all of this, which I admit is only a small percentage of what I want to know.
I think my first few encounters with rap music came through the radio, which is a bad place to get started. Going into this, I knew Kanye West, Drake, Eminem, Lil Wayne, and maybe like three or four other rappers. Now I’m not hating on these guys by any means, but there is SO MUCH MORE rap music than the big media moguls you hear on the radio. I love me some good old Kanye, and I always have, but even still Kanye has somewhat of a superficial message in a lot of his new music. I listened to OutKast and Eminem growing up, but other than these three, my rap education was at pretty much a C- at this point.
One of the first rappers I heard outside of this world was Macklemore. I know he’s gotten a lot of hype lately because of that damn song about the thrift shop, but I want you to go right now and listen to “Otherside” and “Starting Over” if you haven’t already. These two songs changed my outlook on the rap world completely. I already did a whole post about Macklemore here, so if you’re interested you can just click on that and I’ll stop talking about him now. If you don’t like rap, listen to Macklemore first. His rap is very instrumentally based, and he’s got a very soothing voice that might not overstimulate you if you aren’t used to rap.
I can probably say that I like the more chill end of the rap spectrum the most. This often means pretty chill beats, and a dude with a voice that doesn’t annoy you after five seconds. Don’t get me wrong I love a little dirty party rap music, but on my own time, I tone it back a little. A few other rappers that I really like, that fall sort of in this category, are Dylan Owen, Milo, and Eyedea. Dylan Owen, the one pictured below, has this spoken word poetry feel to his rap. Most of his tracks have a little sung chorus to them, which makes them way less rappy. If you’re a poet or you like the idea of beautiful lyrics, try Dylan Owen. Milo is a nerd rapper. His rap is all about wordplay and nerdy references. If you like the idea of a super cool black dude being secretly extremely nerdy and poetic, you will like Milo. My friend Paley actually wrote a great article about him for Art Nouveau Magazine, here.
Alright moving right along here, one of the next rappers I was introduced to was Kendrick Lamar. I instantly fell in love with him is the thing. He’s got this flow (I feel like such a poser using these rap terms, but there’s no other way I can describe it) that is just like, mesmerizing. He radiates cool. I’m trying so hard not to forget anyone here. If you’re the kind of person that does enjoy the partying genre of rap music, Kendrick will be a good step into a slightly more chill aspect of that. After Kendrick, my friend told me to take it back a few years and get on Notorious B.I.G./Biggie Smalls/Whatever you want to call him. This is the kind of music that you want to blast while strolling down the street. If you like feeling like a badass when you’re walking around town, listen to some Biggie.
My mind is literally blown by this genre, guys.
Alright so I’m getting to my real point here. The whole reason I drafted this post up was because I wanted to talk about Odd Future. If you don’t really know what the whole OFWGKTA thing is about, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. I heard Odd Future beffore most of this stuff and I absolutely hated it. Despised. I thought it was gross, rude, stupid, and just about a million other things. I want to slap myself in the face for that. Odd Future is a group of creators. They impress the shit out of me. They’re like this entirely self-sufficient group of skater kids turned rappers/producers/artists and it blows. my. mind. They’re made up of Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Syd tha Kyd, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Frank Ocean, Jasper Dolphin, Taco Bennett and like five more people. There are a few little groups within the big group like MellowHype and The Internet also.
These guys are like the coolest friend group you could ever know. They’re just about making art and music and they make clothes and skateboards and like just all of this amazing stuff. Tyler, The Creator kind of leads the pack, and he’s worth a whole blog post on his own. He might be one of the most brilliant minds of our generation. If you’ve ever seen an interview with him, he is just totally uninterested. Everything he says is interesting, but he is not about the life of being asked the same dumb questions over and over. If you suck, he will tell you. He says and does what he wants, but he’s not this horrible person at all. He often raps as his alter-ego type persona Wolf Haley, who he says is the man he wants to be, but can’t be. The Wolf Haley character is reckless and does crazy things, fulfills sadistic fantasies, murders people, and does a lot of other things that has sent a lot of “music critics” raging around in circles.
Tyler is often criticized for his use of the word “faggot” and his lyrics that are misogynistic and pretty demeaning to like almost every type of person. He has said multiple times that he’s not homophobic or a rapist or a murderer, but that he uses the words because they are words, not because of what society says they mean. I want to be the first to say that I AM A GIRL AND I APPRECIATE TYLER THE CREATOR. I know I’m going to get shit for this, but I one hundred percent understand what he’s doing. He doesn’t mean anything he says in the way that you’re going to take it.
I hope I don’t sound ignorant in this post, but you have to appreciate the things Odd Future, not just Tyler, says with an open mind. They don’t mean the things they say literally, they’re just having fun and trying to push people. I love how they are pushing the envelope. A lot of my friends who liked them when I didn’t are over them now, so this post might be a little outdated, but these things needed to be said. Rapper Earl Sweatshirt, part of the OF collective, is a lyrical genius. He wrote his first album when he was like 16 or something ridiculous. He’s insanely talented, and I know it’s kind of a relatively new song of his, but listen to “Chum” if you get the chance. All of you dad-less folks out there will really appreciate Earl and Tyler for their brilliant descriptions of growing up without dads, which I can totally relate to as well.
Not everyone will like Odd Future. If you’re new to rap, I would wait a little before setting foot into their world because, like it did me, it might overwhelm you. But if you’re into some of the stuff I suggested above, venture into the world of Odd Future, because it is a great place.
Well I really hope I didn’t sound too dumb in this post since I still don’t really know what I’m talking about. I just wanted to defend rap and hip hop from the perspective of someone who used to hate it. I hope this inspires you to look into it a little more.