Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Love It or Hate It: Rap's Here to Stay

Contrary to what your average middle-aged classical music listener may wish, rap music is here for good. It rose up in the 80s as a mode of expressing urban anger and passion, migrated to the suburban middle class in the 90s, and now dominates the pop charts. Signifying its broad-based appeal, rappers collaborate with everyone these days. You've got rap with rock; rap with country; rap with ska; rap with blues; rap with Vegas lounge (just kidding on that one). Rap is everywhere, and that has to scare.

It scares those who have to this point shut their eyes tightly in fear of the genre, much the way kids do when they think not seeing the monster will make it go away. Someone, please, tap them on the shoulder. "Uh, Mr. Smith--the rap's not leaving. It's actually devouring your puny little genre. Sorry." This problem is particularly confounding in the church, which just had what it thought to be the ultimate unwanted dinner guest--rock--crash the evening meal. Thankfully, after a couple of pained decades and many torturous exchanges ("No, sir, I'm sorry-I can't think of any Bible passages that outlaw guitars; I'll do a word study and get back to you"), we're at the point where Christians accept rock. I suspect that there's a surprising contingent of bearded grayhairs out there who slip Lifehouse or Toby Mac in the car after they drop Junior off at the Lock-in. Yeah, dads, I know you're out there. I see you. Rap-boy sees allllllll.

Yet when it comes to the latest unwanted friend of youth, rap, the evangelical machine, that hulking beast that guards the borders of Christian pop culture, smites the offending faction with unstudied disdain. Having just conceded to the redeemed rock crew, it sees no room for another youthful musical offshoot. With piercing logic--"Rap came from those gangster rappers with their marijuana and guns"-- and stunning thoughtfulness --"But there's something about the beat, isn't there? Isn't it a little, well, worldly by nature?," it dismisses rap. It does so to its own peril.


Anonymous Dionysius said...

You've forgotten Plato's argument against Rap: Republic 2,3 & 10.

8:40 PM  

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