(I don't consider myself an expert, so bear with me).
You know, the type of songs you would describe as being recited as poems with a beat that has cursing every ten seconds, often sexualizes women while glamorizing the thug life? Of course, that isn't completely true--for all songs anyways. Unfortunately, there are such songs.
However, some rap can be compared with the genre novel. Mixtapes are sold or given away in an "underground" community, with their own sets of devoted fans who gobble up their favorite rapper's rhymes.
It's easy to be turned off by the attitude that surrounds rap music. The swag, the ghetto, and the crassness might seem...unintelligent. And with gangster rap and horrorcore creeping around, even dangerous.
On the other hand, there's "hip-pop", like what Nicki Minaj moved more toward for her album "Pink Friday". Or Pitbull. And some pop singers mix rap into their normal singing, like Ke$ha or the band Karmin. Considering that's mainstream, it has opposition for also being unintelligent, but in a different way. In a way, these two extremes, underground and mainstream, can boggle the mind.
But like every other music genre, rap can be genius.
What's special about rap that it is very lyrical, more than most--if not all--genres. One day, I'm thinking of trying out songwriting, but I bet it's harder to write a rap song than a pop song. You can get away with repeating the same lyrics again and again in a pop song, but it's more difficult to try such a stunt in rap.
Despite lacking true melody, as in singing notes from A to G, I find that rap also has rhythm. It can be shaken up. While much of it is slow and steady, the words can be drawn out or spat in succession, while the tempo can be picked up or broken down. And from an article I had read on Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass", there's also the tones. Words can be said in many different ways.
Oh, and the beat. Despite it most of the time being a loop, loops can be fun to listen to. And every once in a while, it strikes a chord. (Get it? Chord?)
Just look at this verse from the song "Monster" by Kanye West (the clean version...mostly):
By critics and fans, it's seen as one of her best verses. Throughout the verse, Nicki alternates from her "angry persona" (Roman) and her "nice persona" (Barbie), a couple of times mid-line. Considering the personality she's putting into the lines, that takes lots of effort that many pop singers can't replicate.
Even within her two persona, she switches tones multiple times. And you can't deny the lyrical content. And the beat.
And the album this is from (My Dark Twisted Fantasy) is sometimes regarded as a masterpiece by various critics. It could be an overstatement, but for rap...
Rap music consists of several parts: the beat, the lyrics, the rhythm, the "hook" (which is rap's term for chorus), samples, the featuring artists, and so on. With those few factors, rap can go far in many different directions.
After all, rap is a different form of poetry.
Well, there's still the whole cursing factor and objectifying woman part, but it isn't like pop isn't doing it to a degree.
I don't know why I like using Nicki Minaj as an example.
YOUR TURN: What's your opinion of rap music?