Rap Under the Hood

by Liam Lynch ’13

A lot has changed since the days of rapping to a beat drummed out by a friend on a trashcan. Nowadays you can get a beat very easily, off the Internet or through other digital sources.  Although accessibility to inspiration has much improved, the rap of today is mostly overused, nonsensical and repetitive. The only things rapped about nowadays are the clichés of girls, money, and material possessions.

Underground Rap | Courtesy Creative Commons
Underground Rap | Courtesy Creative Commons

Only a few rappers write lyrics that actually have some substance and connection to everyday life. After all, the industry has shown us it’s hard to maintain a good flow without reverting back to meaningless gibberish. Even among the few rappers that can do this today, only a select number of them can call themselves the best. One great example of this type of hybrid rapper is the up and coming J. Cole. His new album Cole World is a refreshing take on rap. His music has a lyrical edge that most other albums just can’t reach. Junior Robeil Andebrhan comments on Cole’s work, “ His songs breathe new life into the music business, which has lately become a little deflated and repetitive.”

Another great example of the lyrical greatness that sets a special few musicians apart is the eccentric Big Boi. Following a heavily delayed release, his album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty debuted in July, 2010. The album has been noted by music writers for its bounce and bass-heavy sound, layered production, assorted musical elements, clever wordplay, and versatile flow. His inventive sound and lyricism are a cut above the rest.

Of course there are many other artists that have achieved this height of lyrical greatness and there are only a few that stood out among that group. A list of other excellent artists include: Childish Gambino, Wale, and Tech N9ne. However, the mainstream music industry also produces first-rate artists, like Jay-Z or Eminem, who both display lyrical brilliance.

Today, among the multitudes, emerge a few simple but brilliant artists that are taking music to the next level. They’ve taken an edgy stance on music, that will set the standard for all rap to come.