Questions You Should be Asking the World Around You
2Pac had a really good way of making the lyrics pop. He would modulate the pitch and intensity of his voice to match the beats. He knew how to compress the lyrics just enough to fit them into three minute tracks, but also to have them be clear enough to tell a story.
Need – wheel = (1 syllable – 1 syllable) = Lazy rhyme
Epitome – actin’ like you don’t know me = (4 syllables – 6 separate words) = extremely lazy
Date – conflate – innervate = (1 syllable – 2 syllables – 3 syllables) = Tight rhyme
2Pac is in the third category. Tight rhymes, good instrumentals, and compelling lyrics. Notice how the lyrics “pop.”
A variation of this “lyric pop” style can be seen in this video by Method Man and Mary J. Blige. Like 2Pac, Method Man had a unique talent for constructing rhymes and making the lyrics “pop.” This is what I call hybrid rap. A mixture of story telling and vocals.
Mary J. Blige’s voice was something that had enthralled millions of rap fans. This was at a time when songs were still songs where you had to carry your voice across at least two octaves in order to be considered good. So needless to say, Mary J. Blige was very talented.
What makes a rap song good is when the rhythms for both the lyrics and the instruments match. This should be obvious to everyone but honestly a lot of bad rappers out there never even bothered to make the two things meet. Master P is a criminal offender in this regard. The drum beats and the lyrics in this song are completely out of whack. Just terrible. Terribad.
Here’s an example good instrumentals saving an otherwise ‘lazy’ rap song. Not many people will admit this but the main selling point of this video was the synthesizer. This song was very popular back when it was first released. They played it in all the clubs and at all the parties. I admit, I like this video, but I’m unable to listen to it repeatedly.
-Got me goin’ off the land like where the bomb at
-Give me two bucks you take a puff
-and pass my bomb back
You see, in the era before this video, everyone wanted to rap. The kids bought the merchandise, the parents were just starting to tolerate it, the CDs were selling like mad. Movies about gangster rap stretched across all genres, from sci-fi, to action, to comedies. Everything was dominated by rap.
But then came this video.
This was after both Biggie and 2Pac were killed, and a nation of fans+critics demanded an explanation and a superstar to fill the void. What they got was this dork right here and his buddy Mase. Just fuggin’ terrible. They milked Biggie’s death just like Dave Grohl did with Kurt Kobain. This is the point when rap was unceremoniously pulled up by its haunches, and revolutionized…in a bad way. It spawned a entire generation of lazy rap. The rhymes sucked, the instrumentals were hijacked tracks from the 80’s, and the lyrics were unbearably lazy.
Both Puff Daddy and Mase were retards. Literally.
When I say music I mean that this song deserves to be included in the historical archives of musicology if society just happens to end due to an unexpected nuclear war. You know the kind of music that should be taught for educational purposes.
The lyrics pop, the rhythm is predictable and consistent, and the content does not trip all over itself by being belabored. Quick, succinct and catchy. Pop, pop, pop.
With the exception of Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Method Man, none of the members of Wu Tang could rhyme. They sold a lot of albums though. A lot of people played their songs in the clubs. But just like Puff Daddy, they had very little talent. I remember my friends just raving about Wu Tang. And even on internet forums, people used to say the most unbelievable things about Wu Tang. It was very very puzzling. It was like the mystery of the ancient aliens for me. I could not figure it out. Maybe you can look them up on Youtube and see for your self. You’ll see what I mean. Ol’ Dirty Bastard eventually made a name for himself, and so did Method Man, but the others just sort of orbited around the franchise.
Do you have a favorite rap song? Tell us about it!
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