By Boot Bullwinkle:
Though I don’t look like the average rap junkie, my music library is dominated by hip-hop. It’s a genre that’s growing vastly, and it’s divided into several sub-genres. There’s the indie-rap style of Mac Miller, the old school flow of The Notorious B.I.G. and the lyrical styles of Lupe Fiasco. The different variations to hip-hop are endless, but the most underrated style of rap is hardcore hip-hop.
In the 1980s, the style was launched by artists such as Run D.M.C and Public Enemy. Even though I live in Palo Alto, the “street life” lyrics bring me back to my times growing up in East Menlo Park. Run D.M.C. is a household name that many recognize, and I have no shame in giving their album, “Raising Hell,” a full play through. It did, after all, go double platinum.
[pullquote]I loved the confidence that they all brought to the table, with their controversial lyrics and “gangsta rap” mentality. [/pullquote]
The genre blew up in the 1990s as N.W.A., and The Wu-Tang Clan I took over the hip-hop scene. I loved the confidence that they all brought to the table, with their controversial lyrics and “gangsta rap” mentality. N.W.A. was the first rap group that I was really into. I can recite 90 percent of their lyrics, but only when I am by myself, because I’m not sure that belting “F*** the Police” is appropriate in public.
When I’m not in a anti-establishment mood, I flip on the hypnotizing beat of “C.R.E.A.M.” by The Wu-Tang Clan. Their flow is so captivating and creative that I have to repeat the song a few times just to enjoy every aspect that it has to offer.
The hard hitting bass lines and catchy hooks draw me in, but it’s only when I get deeper into the song that I realize that these rappers have the ability to be lyrical geniuses. The most famous of these rappers is Eminem, who is explicit, creative, unorthodox and controversial. These words don’t even begin to describe what Eminem has done with his lyrics. In “Fast Lane” (feat. Royce Da 5’9”), Eminem spits,
“Catch me in my Mercedes/bumpin’ Ice Ice Baby/
Screamin’ Shady til I die/ like a half a pair of dice, life’s crazy”
To those counting, that is a quadruple entendre. He sets up the literal use of dice with rolling in his Mercedes and rolling a pair of dice. There’s the white rapper reference with the Vanilla Ice single, “Ice Ice Baby”, and then he gets a little more creative. For example, replace dice with dies and ‘half ’ the dies, and you have ‘Shady til I die’. Eminem closes off this quad with ‘half a pair of dice’ which sounds like ‘have a paradise’.
That wordplay is just a sample of the lyrical contents that hardcore rap has to offer. It takes a specific mood, but hardcore hip-hop is a piece of art that can be appreciated for the meaning and thoughtfulness behind the block shaking beats, and catchy hook and samples.