Hip Hop and Blues

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Elijah Wald, Miscellaneous, Rap

Author: Elijah Wald

Source: http://www.elijahwald.com/hipblues.html
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Blues fans would seem to have a natural affinity with rap. After all, while fans of the Beatles or Beethoven can complain that it’s just some guy talking over a repetitive, monotonous rhythm, we consider John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun” a classic. As for the content, it is true that a lot of rap is violent and misogynist, but we have heard Robert Johnson singing, “I’m gonna beat my woman till I’m satisfied,” and have learned to appreciate his strengths despite this. A lot of modern gangsta lyrics might be dismissed as over-the-top boasts about how tough the rapper is, but how different are they from “Hoochie Coochie Man”? Indeed, as many historians have pointed out, there are examples of rap in the work of artists as varied as the Memphis Jug Band, the Golden Gate Quartet, and Bo Diddley — and that’s not to mention all the versions of “toasts” like “The Signifying Monkey.”

 

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