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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Realness: A rapper’s perspective
A full grasp of an understanding of the word ‘real’ has proved evasive to man in every
sphere of life across the centuries. This is not because the definition of the word is itself
ambiguous as the Longman dictionary clearly defines it as “Not imagined...actually
existing...not pretended...” Sincerely, definitions hardly get any simpler or clear-cut.
Economist have obviously also had run-ins among themselves over the realness of the thing
they love the No wonder they have clearly defined the real value of money as
what it can buy. While in secondary school, we jokingly described the real owners of our
properties as the people who stole them ended up using it. It should therefore come as no
surprise that players in the music industry (rap to be precise) have decided it is their turn to
thrash out who was real or not with yardsticks they hope are clear enough...or are they?
Rap maestros like Talib Kweli in U.S.A have criticized other rappers who only talk
about drugs, sex and violence in their lyrics all in a bid to sell out. Likewise in Nigeria, Mode
9 has heavily criticized his fellow colleagues who only go all out to make party tracks and rap
in Pidgin English (among other ‘sins’) in a bid to make money off their records. These
‘sinners’ according to Mode 9 and Talib are not ‘real to the game’. Their arguments raise up
questions like dust, two of which are outlined below;
1. Is music (rap in particular) an art which has stringent laws guiding its production?
2. Or is it simply a mode of
entertainment, from which its
makers make money, and
hence not requiring any
real talent?
The following paragraphs
give my opinion of what
an appropriate answer to the
questions posed above
should look like.
Music is indeed a
genre of art, and anybody
with an I.Q higher than
30(below which a person
is assumed to be mentally
retarded) should have
figured that out. After all,
musicians are often referred
to as artists. However, art is a highly subjective field with no clear cut rules. This is the
major distinguishing factor between science and art. When science says the
acceleration due to the gravity of the Earth is approximately 9.8m/s, there is no
dissent because that is a natural fact. But if I was to say that outside the boundaries
of time and space, Soyinka is a better writer than Shakespeare or Dickens, I’m sure
some people may beg to differ even though others might ask how anybody could ever
think otherwise. If this is this case, considering the realization that music is art, isn’t
it silly for one rapper to say another rapper is not ‘doing it right?’ as there are no
textbooks that define the characteristics of the idle rap song, does it not appear that
everyone is free to express himself in rap the way he deems fit? Nevertheless, before
anyone begins to casts ballot on whether I’m a Mode 9 or Ruggedman fan, maybe we
should go on to the end of this piece.
The 2
so you can pay your bills. Nelly (of St Lunatics) answered this question years ago on
an interview on MTV. He said that as far as he was concerned, he was simply making
music people could enjoy and was not a bit interested in the ‘real thing’. Must I
mention the millions of dollars he has made out of music in the course of this his
quest? After all, even those who claim to be ‘keeping it real’ might not admit it but
this slogan of theirs might as well be their own unique selling point. I say this
because I have friends who listen to only rappers like Lupe Fiasco because they
argue that he’s one of the few ‘doing it right’. Has this not become a marketing
strategy for him? Some people say that these so called underground rappers have
failed to accept the reality that rap has evolved (like everything else) from what it
used to be to the flossing and bling-bling rap that has made dudes like Jay-z one of
the richest men alive, and left guys like Nas (No offence intended) scuttling to Jigga
for a record deal.
This however does not give jobless people the right to redefine rap music as a
marriage of beats and nonsensical lyrics sung by ex-convicts because talents are
required to make a sensible or at least enjoyable rap song. Even as a medical
student, the first time I heard the word ‘halitosis’ was when OD (a rapper) said in one
of his lines that “ can’t talk to me, u’ve got halitosis” Halitosis, by the way is a
medical condition that makes its sufferers constantly have mouth odour. As a matter
of fact, one of the commonest feature of the first rappers were the wits they employed
in their use of puns (or punch lines) and construction of rhymes (I hope wack M.C’s
are beginning to consider ‘juju’ or ‘Fuji’ music)
Ruggedman once remarked in his lines that if you say by speaking in his
mother tongue or pidgin English he was not ‘being real’, then as a Nigerian, what
more could he do to be real? Ironically, when Wyclef came to Nigeria, he advised
Nigerian rappers to rap in their mother tongues if they wanted to stand out among
the millions of English rappers already abroad. Therefore, when next you go to Alaba
market to pick up an album, carefully ask yourself these questions: Do you want to
listen to intelligent lyrics or do you want to simply bop your head to the beat and
party because it appears that at the end of the day, the entire idea of what’s real or
not lies in between our our heads
nd question asks whether music is simply a means of entertaining people
19-02-08 1.20 pm


Anonymous said...

Hmm...Very detailed. i think you've said it all


Anonymous said...

Creativity.... Dats my key it 9, geddy, bliss, switch, or evn hova imslf, if u vomit stuf dat dont stimul8 mah brain cells, out d universe is whr al kik d butt of ur track. That said, am of d opinion dt d rap game don't 'av no rule buk,buh d fans ar d judges! Kapiche?
Your boi, Dexter,

Anonymous said...

Nuff said dexter. That is the word...creativity