Friday, November 18, 2005

Tupac and Frank

Think you can tell the 2Pac lyric from the Frank Sinatra one?

1. 2Pac v. Sinatra
I make mistakes, but I learn from everyone
And when it's said and done, I bet this world will be a better one
If I upset you, don't stress
Never forget, that God hasn't finished with me yet.

2. 2Pac v. Sinatra
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way.

3. 2Pac v. Sinatra
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

4. 2Pac v. Sinatra
If you can make it through the night,
there's a brighter day
Everything will be alright if you hold on
it's a struggle everyday, but you've got to roll on.

5. 2Pac v. Sinatra
In this game, the lesson's in your eyes to see
though things change, the future's still inside of me.
We must remember that tomorrow comes after the dark,
so you will always be in my heart.

Answer Key: 1) 2Pac, Ghetto Gospel. 2) Sinatra, My Way 3) Sinatra, That's Life. 4) 2Pac, Dear Mama 5) 2Pac, Unconditional Love.

How did you score? Even if you ran the table, the point that I'm trying to make is a really simple one. It's ridiculous to cast rap aside as an inferior art form. If you had trouble discerning between Sinatra and Pac, maybe the generational divide is all the only meaningful one. There's a lot of disgustingly terrible hip-hop artists out there (e.g., Nelly, DMX, Ja Rule) and the market is flooded with a lot of awful tracks. But, the argument that the game is only about violence, drugs, and sex, is a crude generalization. In fact, people who make that claim reveal just how little exposure to the material that they've had. Good rap is more poetic and thought provoking than the type of fluff that the Beach Boys cashed in on. (Really, where is Kokomo anyway?) I'd even argue that the word play, lyrical mastery, and oral flow that Rap prizes preserves the original notion of poetic art that Plato would be recognize. 2Pac's body of work exemplifies this. Nick Cannon in Blender writes: "Tupac's the greatest MC ever. He could talk about his love for his mom and at the same time, he'd talk about the strip club and how much he hates the police. He was more than a rapper - he was a cultural icon, a poet, an activist in the community, a modern-day philosopher."

I just think it's disingenous to arbitrarily call into question an art form because it conflicts with a so-called conservative value. Especially, since it looks to me that a 50s crooner and a 90s rapper both seem to have a lot to agree on.


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