Recently an opinion pieced popped up on The Examiner’s (a Tasmanian web and print newspaper I’d never heard of, but more on that later…) website written by Barry Prismall entitled “Rap the biggest con in history of music”. That’s a big call Baz, but I’m curious to hear how you back this up. Plus the full-screen photo of your face makes me want to scroll down immediately.
The article itself can be found here, for those who want to play along at home. Let me analyse a few choice quotes.
Prismall kicks off the piece by letting the reader know he’s uninformed and not qualified to talk about music. “Canned crap from rap flunkies who can’t sing as they mutter away to a thumping beat – chattering a useless, deviant monologue of prose…” Rap rhymes and has structure, therefore it is not prose.
“Rap chatter-boxes managed to side-step contests like The Voice and American/Australian Idol, to gatecrash the charts with the phenomenon of some fast talking.” Riding a fast-tracked, multi-million dollar cash cow straight to the top of the charts is the legitimate route while spending years perfecting your craft as an independent artist and attracting the attention of record labels without a text vote hotline is the easy option? Did I misinterpret that Barry? I think you’ll find the Beach Boys predate American Idol.
“Once they signed a recording contract they produced at will a deafening, staccato speech about vomit, violence, blood, sex and dark depression.” What music are you even listening to? Nothing in my music library contains any combination of those things. Are you making this up?
“Generations of cashed-up, lost teens are using their iPods to block out the truth while they throw away good money after bad.” Hip-hop originated from poor black neighborhoods and gave strength to an oppressed generation by spreading truth contrary to the mass media. Since then it has grown and spread to all nationalities and skin colours. I’m not sure what “truth” hip-hop is blocking. It has stayed relevant over almost half a century. “Rap started in the US in the 1970s as a type of street art (sic), according to apologists.” You’ve obviously done a bit of research, did you miss this bit of history?
“Thank God for the last vestige of Pink.” Yes, he means Pink as in P!nk, not the colour. Apparently she is “one of the few contemporary artists worth listening to”. I have nothing to add here.
Clearly Prismall’s musical opinions have been formed in the downtime between Alan Jones Breakfast Shows when he channel surfs between Fox FM and Nova 100. If the only “rap” you expose yourself to is Pitbull and Nicki Minaj, I can understand your animosity towards the genre. You’re absolutely allowed to have an opinion, but if yours gets published in a state-wide newspaper, I would expect you to either have some knowledge of the subject or at least have done some research. To vilify an entire genre, culture and community on the basis of a brief exposure is just shallow and should not be allowed to seep into print media.
Prismall does not name one hip-hop artist he dislikes, nor does he quote any lyrics to support his argument. It’s almost laziness; googling “offensive rap lyrics” would give him plenty of ammunition, though this is hardly a leg to stand on, as a similar search for rock ‘n’ roll quotes would reveal flaws in his sand castle argument. He happily name-drops a vanilla list of glory days musicians such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and The Beatles, but not one rapper.
Perhaps if Prismall had done a bit of reading, he would have discovered the likes of Mos Def, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique and a stack of other artists with intelligent, conscious lyrics. I could name hundreds of songs by Australian rappers with lyrical depth. In my opinion, hip-hop is the best vessel for meaningful messages. It’s difficult to fit much in a three minute pop song with a fairy floss chorus aimed at commercial radio. Saying “rap is an asylum for slightly agitated nobodies, getting restless with their limbs and getting intense and rich on a one-sided, egotistical conversation” is just ignorant.
Thanks for your insight Barry.
As a postscript, I decided to browse The Examiner to examine the integrity of it’s articles. The next piece I came across was this one, written by another similarly aged, similarly mustached white man with glasses, called “Advocates of gay marriage hit a hitch”. The premise of this opinion piece is that gay marriage will inevitably be legalised, and when that happens, pro-equality activists won’t be able to stop protesting and will steamroller straight into pro-polygamous marriage rallies (and presumably bestiality, that’s the way the slippery slope works right?) to quench their thirst for activism. He backs this up with a comparison to Greens protesters in Tasmania who, not content with saving 500,000 hectares of significant old growth forest, then carried on to protest logging and mining in Tarkine. Apparently those “greensters” should just be happy with their patch of trees and “peacefully consume tubs of tofu and drink litres of dandelion wine” while Tarkine is flattened to satisfy the country’s insatiable appetite for non-renewables. Thanks for that, fuckwit.