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BeBop

Is rap tomorrow's jazz?

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Sure, I'm serious with the offer. Anyone interested, PM me an address. I'll put something together this weekend. I made the same offer over on AAJ and no one responded except my friend Sandi, and she was just being nice.

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Rap is akin to collage, and faces very similar criticisms as collage did from traditional painting critics.  Also, like collage, rap will never attain the level of creativity which music created with traditional skills will (imo).  Michael Fitzgerald is looking for traditional music qualities in a music that can't possibly provide such qualities since it never intended to. 

If anyone is interested, I'll gladly put together a cdr Blindfold Test of rap/DJ work which has been created with the highest possible quality for the genre.  There definitely won't be any deft instrumentation by jazz standards, but I've been listening to rap since I was a kid so I know a lot about it.

I'd give it a good listen, for sure. I'm not a fan, but I'd love to have a bit more to go on when I'm talking to some of the younger djs around here.

--eric

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Rap is akin to collage, and faces very similar criticisms as collage did from traditional painting critics.  Also, like collage, rap will never attain the level of creativity which music created with traditional skills will (imo).  Michael Fitzgerald is looking for traditional music qualities in a music that can't possibly provide such qualities since it never intended to. 

If anyone is interested, I'll gladly put together a cdr Blindfold Test of rap/DJ work which has been created with the highest possible quality for the genre.  There definitely won't be any deft instrumentation by jazz standards, but I've been listening to rap since I was a kid so I know a lot about it.

Well put!

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Morton Feldman is repetitive and so is Terry Riley.  I might even argue that Steve Reich is, too.  :g

All much more interesting than rap.

But no less repetitive.

I would rather listen to seven minutes of DJ Shadow's Changeling than Feldman's entire 6 hour String Quartet #2. :g

I'd still rather listen to Morty, but I think I've only heard #2 all the way through once. :rfr

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Morton Feldman is repetitive and so is Terry Riley.  I might even argue that Steve Reich is, too.  :g

All much more interesting than rap.

But no less repetitive.

I would rather listen to seven minutes of DJ Shadow's Changeling than Feldman's entire 6 hour String Quartet #2. :g

I'd still rather listen to Morty, but I think I've only heard #2 all the way through once. :rfr

Someone simply must jump on this.

--eric

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What I often ask myself is this: is dinner tomorrow's lunch?

I'm interested in the hiphop BF CD-R--will send you my address.

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I was napping on my couch the other day, when I heard a car go by with the boomin' system. That's not unusual, but what was unusual was the music coming from that car. It was HIP! But now I'm at pains to describe it. What can I say? There was a fat beat, a bit more uptempo than you usually hear in hip-hop, with no vocals, and an interesting synth line. Can't tell you much more than that, but the overall sound of it was wacky and cool. Would like to hear it again, but I have no idea where to even begin to look.

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What I often ask myself is this:  is dinner tomorrow's lunch?

If you eat like me, it ought to be.

--eric

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Perhaps we should ask, is jazz yesterdays rap? Well, yes and no. Mainly no.

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My point about musical elements seems to have been missed. OF COURSE hip-hop has "some of those elements" - it has ALL of those elements. Those are things that describe music - they aren't classical-specific, or jazz-specific.

When we talk about physical objects - weight, height, length, width, density, etc. - no matter what physical object, we can analyze it using those things. What I'm asking is not "are these musical elements present" in whatever music, but rather "what is being DONE with these elements". Since music is sound organized in time, everything has tempo or speed - my question is how is that being addressed in whatever music. Of course, some musics place greater or lesser emphasis on certain elements.

If you want to say that hip-hop is so new and revolutionary that it can't be described with those elements, well, how are you going to describe it? What elements are you going to use? You can come up with a revolutionary new element, say, "phatness" and say that whoever is 90% phat while someone else is 74% phat - but what does it mean? However, I *don't* see it as all that revolutionary - I hear recycled drum machine beats, I hear sampled loops, I hear sometimes entire musical pieces appropriated for use here. That is *traditional* music, with all those elements I mentioned. There IS harmony - it's just simplistic. There IS tempo - it's static (and fairly restricted).

I am not claiming that I have heard plenty of hip-hop. Since I haven't heard anything that appeals to me, it's only logical that I don't have any in my own collection. But I have been hearing it for some twenty years, going back to the 1980s. I worked in a record store in the 1990s. I don't live under a rock in Antarctica. I've asked a number of acquaintances to play me stuff that is more interesting than the most popular and have been presented with things like Arrested Development, Digable Planets, Guru, A Tribe Called Quest, Squarepusher, others I can't recall. Ain't none of them made me change my mind - like I said, I'm still waiting for something that meets *my* standards of musical interest. If the rest of the world wants to listen to it, that's fine for them. But as yet, what I've heard is repetitive and primitive with pretty much no sophistication.

In the rap area, I'm more favorably inclined to toasting, but I'm not a huge reggae or ska fan either, but a group like The Beat which incorporates toasting, reggae, jazz, new wave, and Motown kinds of things has much more appeal to me.

BTW, I'm not a big minimalism fan either.

Mike

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I’m another one who has grown up listening to (if not always liking) hip hop. I guess that’s the reason I find the whole question (‘the new jazz?’) itself flawed and somehow quaintly old-fashioned. Hip hop as a genre is now some quarter of a century old (and that’s just on records ). We are now as far from the birth of hip hop as jazz rock was from the birth of bebop and as far as bebop was from the recordings of the ODJB. New and revolutionary? Yeah, 25 years ago. Maybe it’s time we were thinking about what’s going to be the new hip hop.

African-American music has always responded and adapted to its environment. Ragtime, the blues, swing, bebop, the New Thing, rhythm & blues and funk all reflected the next wave of social and cultural circumstances, primarily (but not exclusively) chronicling the black experience. Hip hop is a part of the continuum of black American music, a lineage that can be traced from Cab Calloway and Slim Gaillard to Gil Scott Heron and the Last Poets to the Wu-Tang Clan and Snoop Dogg. Hip hop was the soundtrack to Reagan-era America, for good or bad. Chuck D once called rap ‘black America’s CNN’, an idea that was less fanciful than some commentators- white and black- would have it. Is hip hop the new jazz? No, no more than it’s the new blues or the new doo-wop.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about hip hop has been its lack of development. The major innovations in the music were made in its first dozen years; Grandmaster Flash, Marley Marl, Public Enemy, De la Soul, Mantronix are names that spring to mind. These were the people who were doing genuinely creative, groundbreaking things. They were the Louises, the Birds and the Tranes of hip hop. Everything since has been following the basic blueprint these people laid out. Once Hammer time rolled around record companies realized rap was a huge market the money took over and creativity was stifled. No surprises there. The mainstream subsumes the avant garde in all art forms and ultimately turns innovation into mere commodity. Most of what is happening now is little advance on those innovators and much of it produced to have instant lowest common denominator appeal with an eye on the cash register.

There is creativity and innovation still happening in hip hop, much of it outside of the mainstream. The Roots are a great band, regardless of genre (no surprise that ?uestlove has been working with the likes of Christian McBride and Joshua Redman) while the likes of Madlib, DJ Shadow, DJ Spooky and the Anticon stable have been pushing the envelope the last few years, not to mention the cross-genre experiments of the Thirsty Ear label. But yeah, ultimately a loop is just a loop. The innovation was a long time ago now. For the first time in its history, the popular end of black American music is starting to seem stagnant and stale.

I’m still waiting for someone to take it to the next phase. Maybe someone has and I just haven’t heard it. I’m less inclined to seek this stuff out nowadays. Always ready to be enlightened though.

A hip hop BFT is a great idea. If you want to make it happen, Noj, I’m in.

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Cool Rosco. Everyone who wants a copy, PM me your address. I'll get to compiling this weekend! :tup

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Ain't none of them made me change my mind - like I said, I'm still waiting for something that meets *my* standards of musical interest. If the rest of the world wants to listen to it, that's fine for them. 

In the end, that is what matters. Some things don't connect with me, so I don't listen.

Air Supply, Celine Dion, etc. :)

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Cool Rosco.  Everyone who wants a copy, PM me your address.  I'll get to compiling this weekend! :tup

Hey Noj,

Count me in as well for the BFT! PM is coming down! :tup

Cheers,

Shane

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rap is so lame it's unreal. and i HAVE heard a lot of it. mostly at oh, every red light i'm at, at midnight when i'm trying to sleep, while the "gangstas" feel the need to announce their presence to those of us with jobs, "rolling" through the fucking parking lot of my apartment complex, etc. it's not music, it's sound as image..............little gangsta outfits, posing, etc. LAME. processed tough guy histrionics, usually by little napoleonic complex assholes slouching around in baggy clothes and jewelry the drug money bought. by THEIR bragging admission. bullshit talentless voidoids. flame away.

Edited by pasta

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Two thoughts come to mind on this thread for me.

1) I never cared for the rap I heard on the radio. Then I heard older artists on the Living Color DVDs and realized that I now liked them. So I guess I have discovered that I am a middle aged caucasian. Imagine my shock!

2) Those who hold up the example of R&B and Rock in this "chain of progression" are, in my mind, defeating their own argument. As far as musical complexity goes, R&B can't hold a candle to jazz, and rap can't hold a candle to R&B. The music is devolving as the lowest common denominator becomes more important than regional variations. Rap is the new jazz only in the sense that it's the latest popular form to emerge from the African-American community, but any comparison to jazz musically seems rather weak to me.

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I don't listen to that much Hip Hop myself, although I like a lot of it as dance music. My son is a big Hip Hop fan, and he keeps me hearing the new sounds (most of which don't get to radio or MTV). I would just like to make the following observations:

a) Concerning the question of what elements to focus on when judging Hip Hop, I would say that much of (although not all) Hip Hop is concerned primarily with rhythm and (often) street poetry. The innovations in Hip Hop usually concern rhythm, and I disagree that innovation ended with Grandmaster Flash et al. People like Dr. Dre made huge strides in rhythmic development in the mid-1990s. I am a bit less sure of the most important innovations of the last 10 years. But Hip Hop does sound very different now to me than it did before, more so than other genres of American music. Hip Hop is uncrecognizable today relative to what it was 20 years ago. What other type of American music can we say that about?

b) There seems to be an inverse relationship between how much Hip Hop people listen to and how much people write about Hip Hop. Judging Hip Hop by what is played on pop (teenage) radio would be no different than judging Rock Music in the same way, or maybe jazz by what is being played on the Smooth station.

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2)  Those who hold up the example of R&B and Rock in this "chain of progression" are, in my mind, defeating their own argument.  As far as musical complexity goes, R&B can't hold a candle to jazz, and rap can't hold a candle to R&B.  The music is devolving as the lowest common denominator becomes more important than regional variations. 

No argument here about the musical content of hip hop relative to jazz or even R&B. But it is part of a continuum, demonstrably so (one that is as much social, cultural and political is it is musical). The fact that this chain of 'progression' is towards simplicity, vacuity, tastelessness and vulgarity is nothing more than a reflection of the larger culture. Evolution doesn't necessarily equal improvement.

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a)  Concerning the question of what elements to focus on when judging Hip Hop, I would say that much of (although not all) Hip Hop is concerned primarily with rhythm and (often) street poetry.  The innovations in Hip Hop usually concern rhythm, and I disagree that innovation ended with Grandmaster Flash et al.  People like Dr. Dre made huge strides in rhythmic development in the mid-1990s.  I am a bit less sure of the most important innovations of the last 10 years.  But Hip Hop does sound very different now to me than it did before, more so than other genres of American music.  Hip Hop is uncrecognizable today relative to what it was 20 years ago.  What other type of American music can we say that about?

I'd agree with the first part of this statement. I stand by the assertion that the blueprint for hip hop was laid out in its first dozen years. Sure, there has been development in sound and approach (Dre and Timbaland are two producers who spring to mind) but unrecognizable?

The basic approach is still the same: beat, loop, rap. I don't hear anyone making great advances on what Public Enemy were doing twenty years (I find that figure mind-boggling BTW) ago.

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Well it's tomorrow, and rap isnt jazz, so I guess the answer to the question is no.

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The aforementioned proposition was thrown at me years ago in grad school. Nothing new...yet, I am open-minded. Noj, I just popped off a PM. :)

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This is a very old and very tired argument.

IMO, culturally and in their approach to how to make music, hip hop is a clear continuation of what jazz musicians were doing up until about the 60's. In terms of the actual music, though, they are two very different animals. Hip hop is just as much influenced by things like early disco/house, punk rock, soul/funk and a whole host of other things as it is by jazz.

Somebody mentioned that they'd heard A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, De La Soul and a lot of other good groups, and still hadn't been impressed. That probably just means that the stuff that's fantastic about the music doesn't interest you - that's not what gets you going about music. Fair enough, and I don't think you're wrong. It's your taste, that's all. Same thing with my friends who love hip hop and don't care about Coltrane, Miles, Mingus or Monk... different strokes and all that. But the tired arguments about how there's no invention in rap music, because sometimes they use samples, etc... are just that - tired. It's a good 30 years old now, and there have been way too many different styles and advances in the music for people to keep trotting out the same old complaints.

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Three points -

1) An intellegent discussion of any Popular Music should consider the "Popular" as well as the "Music". Popular Music of any era is popular because it resonates with a large number of people, and those reasons are usually only periphially musical. If any of this shit was just about the music, it wouldn't be really popular, dig? The lesson for jazz? Easy - leave the street, lose the street. Lee Morgan was a street motherfucker (and let's not fall into the trap of equating "street" with "uneducated", "uncouth", or any other such Anglo-centric assumptional predispostions, cause it just ain't so). Jackie McLean too. They were street, they played street, and they held street appeal. What street is Eric Alexander from?

2) Personally, I thnk that some of the most truly self-degrading African-American Popular Music of the 20th century was done by Roy Brown. But nobody mentions him in this light. Go figure that.

3) If you dig the culture, or are otherwise predisposed to keep up with it, you go up with where it goes or else get left behind. It's not going to wait for your permission or approval before going where it's going to go. Getting left behind is more likely to happen along racial lines, but age is a factor too. And quite natural. It hurts to realize that we're not as "hip" at 45 as we were at 20, but hey - c'est la'vie. That hot chick in your 1974 yearbook that you used to fantasize about sneaking out with and fucking all night is now your daughter, dig? And she was somebody else's daughter back then.

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Three points -

3) If you dig the culture, or are otherwise predisposed to keep up with it, you go up with where it goes or else get left behind. It's not going to wait for your permission or approval before going where it's going to go. Getting left behind is more likely to happen along racial lines, but age is a factor too.  And quite natural. It hurts to realize that we're not as "hip" at 45 as we were at 20, but hey - c'est la'vie. That hot chick in your 1974 yearbook that you used to fantasize about sneaking out with and fucking all night is now your daughter, dig? And she was somebody else's daughter back then.

On the third point: The parallel between past youths and today's "hip-hop" culture diverges when we start having a hard look at the 1960s or 1970s fantasy vs. 21st century reality. The trouble today is we got the same adolescent fantasies, but they get realized with an ease undreamed of in prior generations.

The big difference being that adolescent fantasies used to exist in a world of adult rules and adult control. Now that's not true to nearly the same extent. So explicitly playing out the same semi-barbaric adolescent fantasies on TV and in hip-hop . . . well it's a different context.

--eric

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Then again, it was a helluva lot easier for a 17 year old to get laid in 1972 than it was in 1952, or even 1962, so what we're seeing might well be the continuation of a long-term trend, not a "problem" that was "created" by the hip-hop generation. In fact, I'd say that the qualities of "explicitly playing out the same semi-barbaric adolescent fantasies" began to be exhibited in Rock music long before it did in hip-hop. Gangsta started hitting big around the mid-1980s, long after any number of metal bands had had a great deal of popular success serving up explicit violent and/or sexual fantasies. Prior to Gangsta, hip-hop had been mostly feel-good party music and/or serious street social commentary. But the guardians of the culture want to focus on hip-hop as the instigator of moral decline, for reasons that are obvious, I think. I say that that this "decline" is a continuation of a trend that began long before hip-hop, and that there were other popular elements there long before hip-hop. A trend accellerates, doncha' know, and we didn't get to where we are overnight. Rob Halford was there long before Luke Skywalker, and there were others there long before him. Don't believe the hype, as the man said...

Far more interesting to me, from a sociological standpoint, is that hip-hop, by and large, is the first African-American popular music form that doesn't have some kind of roots in church music (this is not always the case, but it is far more often than not). The implications of that are more complicated, nuanced, telling and significant than any talk of explicit adolexcent fantasies now being acted out with relative ease.

But y'all don't hear me now...

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