Hip Hop: A Lesson in Confusion

Recording artist Yung Joc performs for deploye...

Recording artist Yung Joc performs for deployed service members at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, April 18, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will admit it. I would love to live in denial, but I realize that I don’t understand everything.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand a lot of things. I would go as far as to say I understand at least as much as the average person. It’s not like I am living in a state of completely ignorance. At time, it may be partial ignorance, but usually a cup of coffee will snap me right out of that.

No, I’m talking about a different lack of understanding. No matter how hard I try, there will always be a few things that will be so perplexing and flummoxing that I can’t help but be confused and at the same time enthralled by them.

Hip hop is one of those things.

As a white male growing up in the suburbs, there were a few types of music that you could use to annoy adults and worry parents. There was your run of the mill hard rock full of muddy distorted guitars and men doing their best to channel Kurt Cobain’s angst and anger. The screaming anarchy of punk rock was always a good option, particularly if you were not too afraid to pierce your own body parts or worried about your personal appearance.

Nothing seemed to cause more worry, though, then these men telling stories of violence and drugs, using profanities in combinations that no one would have dreamed imaginable. Around 15, all of a sudden there were dozens of teenage boys walking around doing their best impression of an inner-city thug, completely ignoring the fact that their house had a three-car garage and an in-ground pool.

Maybe it’s because I never fell into the “terrible music makes my parents upset” trap that these lyrics seem to confuse me. These musicians spend a majority of their time talking about the type of clothing they have on or bragging about their ability to smoke pot. Then, randomly, they might brag about how they can shoot someone, actually quite a feat if you are incredibly high and concerned about keeping your new Gucci jeans clean.

Whenever I hear a rap song, I often think about the way a real conversation would go if people spoke this way in real life.

“Hi, how are you?” I would say.

“Oh, things were bumpin’ until this breezy burned me real good.” I would be staring intensely, as if I were trying to decipher a new language.

He would continue. “This cold shorty straight up walked in stuntin’…”

“That makes no sense.” I would say, mostly to myself.

“…and I was feeling bent, so I jumped in my AC and…”

This would be the point of the conversation where I would just stand up and leave.

Of course, these are generalizations. Not every rapper is this way. There are certainly a great number of musicians who pride themselves in avoiding these hip hop stereotypes. These rappers make me almost understand. There is an art form to what they do, poetry that some may not enjoy, but should at least be recognized as talented.

Just as quickly as I reach a near understanding, though, an award-winning rapper like Yung Joc (not an award-winning speller) will say something nonsensical like this:

“Verse number 2 do the … thang keeps on my neck pocket’s full of Ben Franks.”

Clearly this means nothing. There is something about how this is the second verse of the song and how he has apparently evolved to the point of having pockets on his neck. He also likes either money or tiny Benjamin Franklin figurines.

I guess the ball is in the rapper’s court. It is up to them to try to convince me that they are legitimate musicians. I believe they can do it. All they will have to do for me to appreciate the art is stop rapping about drugs, cars, women, sex, how good they are rapping, how bad other people are at rapping, money, guns, shoes, clothing, or any combination of the above subjects.

Uh… good luck with that, I guess.

8 thoughts on “Hip Hop: A Lesson in Confusion

  1. Okay I am way older than you and I like some of it especially if the lyrics are hilarious.. Sandytongue.com did a video called Sexy Pad Thai which I thought was hilarious, but maybe because I am a girl… The lyrics got stuck in my head which wasn’t good when I was muttering the words at the grocery store…


  2. hahah!!!
    you couldn’t be more right on with this post!!!
    i talk about this all the time and thought i was the only one who got it. glad to know there are others out there!
    i’m older so i like some of the ‘old school’ hiphop/rap. but todays ‘rap’, not at all!


  3. I have actually been in rooms when people were speaking to each other in this language. I felt soooo white. And, like, unintentionally racist because I could NOT decipher what they were saying. I felt kind of bad about myself. While at the same time wondering where they learned to talk. Then I reminded myself of Appalachia, rural Georgia and the Florida panhandle.


  4. Ha-ha! Yo’ plainly put that shnizzle in it’s widget!

    Rap… all the arrogant preachiness of folk with the added threat of violent bodily harm. I think it was Pete Townsend on The Arsenio Hall Show who said it best. When asked by Arsenio if he liked rap, he said, “It’s the next natural progression in music. Rock is the musical style for musicians with little talent and rap is the musical style for musicians with no talent.”

    When I was young, listening to heavy metal didn’t worry my mom enough so what I did was pipe “show tunes” through the speakers while listening to Hendrix on the headphones.


This Would Be A Really Good Time To Reply...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s