Thank Tyler for Making Rap Scary Again

Written by J.Monkey. Posted in Hip-Hop 101, Spotlight, TV

Tagged: ,

Published on August 29, 2011 with 12 Comments">12 Comments

Hip-hop culture, and especially it’s musical exponent rap, is far from the fledgling movement it once was. With the genre well over 30 years old now, a whole generation of rap listeners has come for who the struggle towards mainstream recognition isn’t even a distant memory, it’s not a memory at all. To them, rap has always been a part of pop culture, and rap being perceived as a ‘dangerous’ counter-culture is something they probably and understandably have trouble with imagining.

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Though rap came up in the 80s as party music at first, coming from poorer backgrounds and developing completely outside of the sights of the music industry, it had the air of a counter-culture wholly its own from the start. Add to that a penchant for social commentary, often taking a strong stand against the status quo and reigning elite, and many people enjoying that status quo saw it as a potential threat to their way of life. And even if they didn’t all see it that way themselves, most of the gatekeepers of radio and TV still had no frame of reference whatsoever for the emergent culture and ultimately treated it as a fad, something disposable, and certainly not an artform.

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It seems hard to believe now that the cleancut boys from Liverpool calling themselves ‘The Beatles,’ the all-American icon Elvis ‘The King’ Presley and one of the most-valued poets of the 20th century, Bob Dylan, were once seen as a corrupting influence on the youth, same as rap during its earlier stages. The kids listening to that devilish rock & roll rackit grew up though, became parents, and their music was no longer perceived as dangerous by the generation in charge, because they were increasingly becoming that generation themselves. It wasn’t until disaffected youths, who saw no future for themselves, crawled up from the bottom to create punk music, that rock music started to get dangerous again. It was during that same era that from the remnants of disco a more aggressive and hardcore music emerged from black neighbourhoods as well, a strange phenomenon called rap music, that would go on to grow into a multimillion dollar business and reach the far corners of the world. Like rock before it though, it would turn into pop music along the way, and its sense of danger eroded rapidly during the last decade. Enter OFWGKTA.

Odd Future makes a lot of people uncomfortable, with the language they use, the violent themes they depict, and their aggressively non-conformity in the face of even well-reasoned criticism. People being uneasy with their work is understandable, but also very welcome. It keeps the culture as a whole fresh and on its toes. You may not like their music or object to their lyrics, but once in a while, every genre needs a dose of angry kids with an appropriate lack of respect. The Wolf Gang will probably inspire more young emcees to stop trying to conform to standards raised before them, but to step over boundaries and set their own standards. Until they eventually become mainstream, and another generation has to step in to stop things from becoming stale. The greatest way to neutralize a counter-culture is to envelope it into mainstream culture, so it’s comforting to see that despite winning an MTV award, Wolf Gang frontman Tyler, The Creator still maintains his attitude of simply not giving a f*ck.

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It doesn’t mean all young rappers should be like him, nor should everyone adopt such an attitude. If all rock records ascribed to a punk aesthetic it would become equally stale, but if Odd Future can inject a level of venom into hip-hop’s blood stream in the same way The Ramones and Sex Pistols did to rock, it may serve as a welcome shot of adrenaline revitalizing the culture.

Besides, Bruno Mars really does suck harder than a black hole, somebody needed to say it.

J.Monkey

1982 was when Jaap van der Doelen aka J.Monkey shot his way out his mom dukes. A mere two years later he was already battling Big Brother and The Illuminati. Whenever he has time to spare from those efforts he writes (about music, mostly), hosts a radio show and designs graphics for a living. He lives in The Netherlands where he continues to be winning.

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  • NotTyler

    now more people r paying attention! HAHAHAHAHA

  • Beerisbetter14

    so the way the sex pistols and the romanes were the mainstream of punk rock… tyler the creator is the mainstream version of “hardcore/scary rap.”   it’s funny how most people thought sex pistols and the ramones were untalented musicians. the same way people think tyler the creator is an untalented rapper. i just know that no one ever wins with expressing their opinion about tyler, becuase at the end of the day, he just doesnt give a fuck. even though im sure he’d care if he lost his fame, groupies giving up the skins, and money. he may say he doesnt, but im sure anyonel would if we were mainstream famous like he was.  and maybe tyler is just a PR scheme to make money. i mean come on, justin beiber having the voice of an angel? ridiculous stuff.

  • Beerisbetter14

    so the way the sex pistols and the romanes were the mainstream of punk rock… tyler the creator is the mainstream version of “hardcore/scary rap.”   it’s funny how most people thought sex pistols and the ramones were untalented musicians. the same way people think tyler the creator is an untalented rapper. i just know that no one ever wins with expressing their opinion about tyler, becuase at the end of the day, he just doesnt give a fuck. even though im sure he’d care if he lost his fame, groupies giving up the skins, and money. he may say he doesnt, but im sure anyonel would if we were mainstream famous like he was.  and maybe tyler is just a PR scheme to make money. i mean come on, justin beiber having the voice of an angel? ridiculous stuff.

  • Raz

    Meh, Tyler, the Creator is irrelevant already. 

  • Mynameisyonnas

    Tyler made rap scary again? No. They made rap interesting and exciting for a little while before they were over-exposed and shoved in the face of anyone within a six-foot radius of a computer, but they never made rap dangerous. They are cartoonish and zany with a tiny splash of satanism thrown in for effect, but they scare no one, not even suburban soccer moms. They make gay rights activists angry, but they don’t scare them. They scare no one. They seem dangerous to no one. Let’s just be clear about that. I got love for them too, I still think Yonkers is the illest video of the year and quite possibly song of the year. I think they brought hard, dark beats and raps back into vogue, which I appreciate, but to say they’re dangerous or scary is crazy.

    Unless of course they scare you to J to the AAP. Do they scare you? Do they seem “dangerous” to you?

    Yonnas
    http://www.blkhrts.tumblr.com
    http://www.blkhrts.bandcamp.com

    • Jaap

      You’re spot on. I crawl into a corner everytime I hear them, same as with a Ramones song. Wasn’t it obvious from what I wrote about them? Then again, you don’t even need to go past the title to this piece since simply taking it to its literal extreme tells you everything you need to know, right?

      • Mynameisyonnas

        Wait…………what? I read your article. Past the title, thank you very much. It did not seem sarcastic or tongue in cheek in the least. In fact your article seemed to somehow substantiate your claim by yes, likening OFWGKTA to The Ramones or The Sex Pistols. That they somehow challenged the bloated corporate rap sphere the way punk did to prog and arena rock. Am I wrong? Is that not what you were saying?
           Furthermore, this “challenge” to the status quo by OFWGKTA was somehow a vestige of the real “danger” punk represented to the establishment in the 70′s. I mean, this was the assertion of your paper, correct? If not, I stand corrected, and I apologize for misinterpreting your words and not seeing the subtext that somehow did not only lurk beyond the title, but beyond every word in the article as well. I apoligize for not seeing this whole paper was an exercise in mockery.
                However, if you somehow, inexplicably, meant any of what you said, the failure in your argument is that very comparison, and on two levels. A) The punk movement of the seventies that became massively popular and posed as the true “dangerous”contingent was the English strain. Not the Ramones. The Sex Pistols were a boy band amalgamation by Malcolm Mclaren after seeing the American bands like The Ramones and other CBGB bands. B) The reason they became so popular and viewed as so dangerous was because they personified the very real and scary anger of the impoverished disaffected youth of England who were angry because they were SO FUCKING POOR, not because they were sad about their missing father, or the girl who wouldn’t pay attention to them, or any of the suburban angst bullshit that seemingly fuels OF’s anger. That lack of substance in their vitriol is what makes them less “dangerous” and more just I don’t know, hormonal.
                 One thing I will say though, about what makes OF perhaps somewhat scary: the wonton glee in their rape rap sometimes makes me wonder if they’re inspiring a new generation of sexual offenders to consider rape less then deathly fucking serious. But really, they didn’t invent rapping about rape, but the way they do it is different. It seems celebratory. Like they kind of champion rape. And I guess, that’s kinda fucking scary, because the power of their influence is only growing.
               I’m trying to have a legitimate discussion about your article, so my question at the end of my previous reply was not snarky, I was seriously asking. However your response was really kind of dick-headed and vague. So much so in fact, that I had no fucking idea what you were talking about. So just give to me straight bro. What is your response?

        Yonnas
        http://www.blkhrts.bandcamp.com
        http://www.blkhrts.tumblr.

        • Jaap

          Well, I read it as snarky, very snarky, which I why replied in what seemed similair tone to me. It’s a danger of commenting online, when we miss the parts of human communication not conveyed by words, I guess. You have my apologies if I misread your intentions. I thought it was obvious that I am not actually scared of them but merely pointed out they make many people understandably uncomfortable. Of course not for exactly the same reasons punk did (although those reasons are much alike to the objections to early rap), they’re not a punk group, but the similarity lies in that they prove you can still be a success in rap without sticking to the pop template that is so prevalent in rap today. I’m not condoning all their words, I’m saying its invigorating to the genre as a whole to once in a while have some kids piss all over the established rules, which is similar (though not exactly the same, as you eloquently pointed out) to what happened to rock in the 70s.

  • Jaap

    “That they somehow challenged the bloated corporate rap sphere the way punk did to prog and arena rock. Am I wrong? Is that not what you were saying?”

    That’s exactly what I was saying, by the way. Nicely summarized.

    • Aaron Mckrell

      don’t sweat trolls, J. It’s kind of telling whenever they’re adding their tumblrs and doing self-promo during online arguments. That’s some g-unit marketing b.s.

      • Jaap

        Haha! ‘Prolly true.

  • Rosco

    Ha good article, loved the ending. I love how all of OFWGKTA can flow, but the rape gets old. I like the idea of it invigorating the hip hop game though.