Monday, February 20, 2017

To Pimp a Butterfly

The musical style of rap is distinct in its reflection of image, fashion, personal style and location.Rap embodies the socioeconomic and political experience of those utilizing its distinct musical style and to other who adhere to its influence. It has become a form of music that evolves over time with artists involving the melodic sounds of blues and jazz, using delivery patterns to define a distinct style and even unpopular sounds and structure to change the state of hip hop. It has been a pleasure to watch artists evolve from the early 90s to today's set of diverse rap artists including the rise of social acknowledgment of Kendrick Lamar. I remember hearing Section 80 mixtape throughout my dorm, hearing the throwback sound to lyrics reflecting the African diaspora along with traditional tones of "gangster rap" discussing the tragedies of living as a black man in social spaces.

The Compton rapper has long been portrayed as the exact reflection of being a member of the population and creating a story of imagery that is often feared by outsiders but a daily reminder to the men, women and children in the community. Lamar's artistry grew from this mixtape and works that would come soon after, including the critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly. The evolution of Compton, gangster rap was available to rap fans who had yet to correlate the historical resemblance to black music including hip hop, rap and jazz.

I pressed “pause” upon the second song of the album. The tone was vastly different than his debut album and I sensed that he had grown to appreciate the history behind the genre in a new way by implementing more of the Southern’s cry and blues, memories of a past life for children of slaves and the questioning of the current state of hip-hop. He incorporates multiple genres while taking pride in the rap and hip-hop culture, and in his own through lyrical ascription. This genius piece of work takes on a genre listened by many as a comedy or tragedy depending on one’s social or personal state. It is still difficult for me to define what this project signified to rap yet it widely opened my eyes to the possibilities of hip hop in recent years and how artists can still pull out meaning from a culture when it is not always asked or desired from those choosing to turn a blind eye.

  1. How do you perceive the music defined within the gangster rap genre?
  2. Do you prefer to listen to music with immediate relatability?
  3. Why do you believe music chooses to implement both tragic and comedic styles in storytelling?

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