Rappin’ with the Cos
I respect Bill Cosby and over the past few years I have even mostly agreed with him.
But this? He is a bit off the mark.
In response to the profane and degrading lyrics, Cosby has commissioned his friend Bill “Spaceman” Patterson to create a rap CD of newcomers who rap about the “…value of an education. The value of respecting one’s self and . . giving [listeners] a chance to raise their self-esteem and confidence.”
Which, of course, I can’t be mad at. But there are a lot of rappers who are out there spitting who do exactly that. Jean Grae, K-Os, Blackalicious, Aceyalone, Handsome Boy Modeling School, The Coup… heck just go browse the artist roster of Okayplayer. The thing is these groups don’t get airplay. Why? Because they are positive and a lot of the record companies aren’t throwing money and strong arming the radio stations to play them. So instead we get what we have on the radios now.
Years ago, in my halcyon rap-filled youth and before rap music went mainstream rap was more creative. Rap was creative and people were willing to try different sounds and different styles to help get their point across. We had the educated rappers and the comedian rappers. The storyteller rappers and the bohemian rappers. When the West Coast began hitting with gangsta rap that is when rap really began to take off and get more airplay. Although Run DMC hit the top of the charts in the late 80s it took Dr. Dre, Eazy E and Ice Cube to bring it to a higher level. Alicia Keys misconstrued statement on the genre weren’t too far off the mark. By the mid 90’s gangsta rap became synonymous with rap music and all those who tried to diverge with more creative and thought provoking music became abnormal. The same people who sought out rap before because it was a creative musical form still did so but those who made the music weren’t getting the accolades or attention as some of their “hardcore” peers were.
But then, the record companies aren’t fully to blame for it. They only sale what moves units and the people wanted dross. And because the people asked for it record companies put more of it out. When you have mass marketed music then you will get easy, simplistic rhymes and beats, today’s rap is Wal-mart in musical form.
So people are asking if rap is dead and I will tell you know, no it isn’t. Good rap is where it’s always has been, underground waiting for someone to find it.
If Cosby wants to help newcomers come out and throw out some hot lines with weight I can’t knock it. I do wish that more people would throw money behind those who are out there trudging along saying what they have to say and no one is hardly listening . Or buying. But they rap it anyway. I might even pick it up when it comes out, too.
But not before I pick up The Roots latest cd. We have to support good black music. If we don’t, then who will?