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Consider historically and critically a chosen genre of popular music - Rap music.

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Introduction

Consider historically and critically a chosen genre of popular music. Genre is a particular style that is recognizable by its particular subject or form. It is also a term which defines something that is produced according to a particular model. For example, when discussing media texts, it is apparent that some qualities of one may be associated with another. Within a media context, genre can generally be defined as being a "category or type".1 These categories are not necessarily fixed, and are subject to change. Shuker (1994) states that genres operate ...within a commercial system of record companies, contracts, marketing, publicity, management, support staff and so on; within this context bands tour and perform, make records, and create an image. 2 This description is coherent with notions of music genres, which continue to function as "marketing categories and reference points for the musician and the fan."3 The definition of genre that Shuker (1994) gives can be applied to the genre in question, which is that of Rap music. The genre of rap music operates within the given conventions, indicating at its position within a wider strategic area, namely that of popular culture. In considering the rap music genre in a historical and critical sense, it is important to separate the concepts of rap music and hip-hop. It can be noted that although hip-hop is the subculture for this formation, it is actually rap music which is the genre under consideration in this essay. A music historian called Reebee Garafalo affirms this difference by stating that, Rap music must be understood as one cultural element within a larger within a larger social movement known as hip-hop. 4 Rap music as a musical form began among the youth of South Bronx, New York in the mid-1970s5. Individuals such as Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash were some of the early pioneers of this art form. Through their performances at clubs and promotion of the music, rap consistently gained in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970s. ...read more.

Middle

Music videos have become far more important since the emergence of specialist music channels such as MTV. MTV has, over the years, increased its coverage of rap music videos. Rap has developed its own unique style and generic conventions. These videos tend to depict the neighbourhood, and position the rapper in this ghetto location.18 Many performers set a positive example for their followers. Kurtis Blow rapped in a video for the March of Dimes' fundraising drive to battle birth defects and he has campaigned against teenage drinking as a spokesperson for the National Council of Alcoholism. Run DMC is one of the numerous rap combinations advising children to keep off drugs. Doug E. Fresh and Grandmaster Flash have each made records telling of the horrors of cocaine. In Grandmaster Flash's hit "White Lies," he gives a detailed account of how the drug can ruin a life by shouting, "Don't do it!" Many were still expecting the music to disappear before Run DMC appeared on the scene. Rap was, and to a large degree still is, a singles orientated medium, but these men from Queens proved that rappers could maintain interest and diversity over the course of entire full-length albums. Combining hard beats and innovative production with material that emphasised positive social activism without ignoring the cruel realities of urban life, they found that both the critics and the 'street' were appreciating them. Run DMC were the first rap group to gain a serious entry into the pop charts. They also managed to attract a large white, middle class audience when they teamed up with Aerosmith's Stephen Tyler and Joe Perry for the hit single "Walk This Way." The mid and late 80s saw rap continue to increase in popularity, with the emergence of superstars such as L. L Cool J and MC Hammer (the latter is often accused of providing a safe rap-pop alternative). ...read more.

Conclusion

It is now becoming common practice for certain rappers' albums to appear with a warning sign and many newspapers and magazines have printed articles warning of the bad influence of rap. There are different aspects, which are seen to be disturbing. Some rappers use strong language, whilst others are accused of writing racist lyrics, or lyrics that are insulting to women. In conclusion, rap like many other black forms of expression, speak to the public through acknowledging the "cries of pain, anger, sexual desire, and pleasure."25 The power of the language of rap has enabled this genre to expand on a global scale, enabling rap music to transcend its reputation as being a genre confined to the black communities of America. As a result, rap has become a genre, which should be recognised by its fusion of orality and post-modern use of technology. Overall, in order to retain a sense of black culture, rap has become a dominant genre within popular culture. At the same time, most rappers have resisted any type of commercialisation that others may have not recognised. It is this commercialisation which eminently leads to the existence of rap music as a popular genre. Endnotes 1 Shuker, 1994, p.145. 2 Shuker, 1994, p. 146. 3 Shuker, 1994, p. 146. 4 Rose, 1994, p. 25. 5 Rose, 1994, p. 2. 6 www,bus.miami.edu/ Idouglas/house/shill/ = This is a homepage dedicated to the pioneers of rap, Sugar Gang Hill, giving details of the band's history, albums and other related details. 7 Rose, 1994, p. 3. 8 Shaomari, 1995, p. 17. 9 Rose, 1994, p. 4. 10 Rose, 1994, p. 65. 11 Rose, 1994, p. 88. 12 Rose, 1994, p. 3. 13 Rose, 1994, p. 66. 14 Rose, 1994, p. 101. 15 Small, 1992, p. 12. 16 Nelson & Gonzales, 1991, p. 135. 17 Nelson &Gonzales, 1991, p. 137. 18 Rose, 1994, p. 11. 19 Baker, 1993, p. 33. 20 Rose, 1994, p. 4. 21 Rose, 1994, p. 106. 22 Rose, 1994, p. 15. 23 Rose, 1994, p. 160. 24 Baker, 1993, p. 62. 25 Rose, 1994, p. 19. ...read more.

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