roots and branchs pt. 2

The ‘intellectual’ argument against rap music goes something like this: black music has been the source of much vitality in American culture, but it always involved transmuting lead into gold, turning everyday things into poetry. Jazz and the blues have been the major beneficiaries of that argument, with r & b and soul increasingly (as the musics recede into history) in the same camp.

Rap, critics say, can be clever and inventive, but doesn’t do what all the other forms did. Whores and bitches stay whores and bitches, to whom any number of unmentionable things can be done. In other words, rap is by itself, cut off from larger traditions.

So what are we to make of this? It’s either a great coincidence, or proof that all this stuff is connected far more deeply than we suspect.

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