Gangsta Rap

I like gangster rap. Listening to it makes me feel good. Although, it's not necessarily a positive kind of good, and that's the problem.

Gangster rap can be artistic. It's filled with clever wordplay and track samples from old school funk, rock, and RnB songs. It conveys a sense of noir-ish realism and determined self-reliance, and since the mid-1980's has served as a voice for social and political commentary from a group that had few such outlets.

But... gangster rap is also often overwhelmingly negative. Among other things, it is usually extremely misogynist, while also glorifying violence and materialism.

So, I'm saying goodbye to gangster rap. I'm not becoming anti-rap, I'm just making a personal decision to purge my music collection of songs that, although I may like, I recognize that they encourage more negative states of mind and thought patterns.

Of course, this can be seen as being pretty obvious stuff. Gangster rap is not very Buddhist... duh. But I think we all have habits that we don't think are very "Buddhist."


Raymo.E-J said...

I think this will turn out some great realizations and [interesting] states of mind for you.

My relationship to music:
I never really got into rap. I always had an aversion to it. Just the music videos and radio play razed my consciousness.
I think that's partly why I listen to death metal, I can appreciate the music whole without understanding a word of the lyrics until I am ready.
And I must say listen to a lot of Death Metal... it's somewhat like rap but it focuses on pure rage (and death of all sorts). I've cut out a lot of the "unnecessary" metal bands in my collection and have kept those with positive vibes. ...Albums and songs I know forwards and back.... There's only one safe band left coincidentally named "All That Remains." Their lyricism celebrates the human spirit and our ability to use our consciousness to transcend ... everything.

I still think I need to cut them out. Even though the message is positive, it's still encase in the Death package. I grew up on the stuff, now I think I ought to grow out of it if I am to be serious about my practice, and stay true to my love of tranquility and compassionate peace of mind.

"What is," without the noise.

Vaulker said...

Gene, Raymo.

I listen to both kinds of music you describe. I am particularly fond of the notorious b.i.g. I like gene was always fascinated by the word play. Public Enemy, the Wu Tang Clan, Dr. Dre all that good stuff. Since I begun practicing I treat their songs like tales. I try to find the truth in their words. They do a good job are talking about their suffering and their attempts to curb it the best they can. Sadly it usually involves "the pistol pointed cocked, ready to lick shots non stop until i see your monkey ass drop." Any decent buddhist knows that this will not end their suffering. Hip-hop originally was a very positive music. it was all based off of dances and block parties. perhaps you could check out some groups like Epmd, the Beastie boys, and some of the older stuff.
As far as death metal and metal in general...i actually play bass in a metal band called warhawk. For me with death metal i like the older stuff like death, cannibal corpse,Atheist obituary, possessed and the like. To me music is art. Sometimes the artist chooses to write lyrics that bode well with the music as they see fit. Its the same as watching a scary movie. I don't take it seriously and sometimes i feel that bands make their lyrics gorier just to further prove the ridiculousness of it all. Raymo I would reccomend checking out death's later stuff like Human, Individual Thought Patterns and the sound of perserverence. Also the Band Atheist is the shit...they have a real jazz element to their music and their lyrics are also very progressive instead of just blood and gore as well.

max said...

I listen to rap, death metal, grind, punk...lots of stuff that doesnt necessarily have buddhist messages.

part of buddhism is seeing reality for what it really is...thats what becoming enlightened is all about.

so it doesnt seem very buddhist to me to stop listening to a type of music because the lyrics are negative. many rap songs speak directly to the harsh reality of poverty. if you stop listening to the violence...that doesnt mean it goes away.

all forms of art are expressions of points of attempt to capture the reality of your point of view and preserve it for others to see.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seth La'am said...

I support your choice gene!

I (personally) think it is very important to control what comes in my ears (just as I control what comes in my mouth, and my eyes). There is so much good positive music out there it is really not necessary to listen to hateful crap. (note "positive" does not necessarily mean "happy")

There is a lot of good positive hip-hop out there but it takes searching out. I like MOS DEF and Lauren Hill for example. I'm sure there is a lot I don't know about.

I have been really feeling reggae lately. There is so much that is up lifting even as it talks about the suffering of the world. Another random thing to check out is Afro-beat such as Fela Kuti and his son Femi Kuti. Very positive and great to dance to.

Peace and Love!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree nigga!

First thing I did when I started Buddhism was to sell my entire music collection, which are full of hiphop, metal, indie, "core" type music. Those are all samsaraic distractions preventing me from purifying my mind.

Although I still have the strong urge to type in ghetto style on da internet know wat im sayin?