What is "good" rap?

Not to be a junior mod: For your own protection, don’t use the T word. You’ll get spanked. I’ve gotten spanked on occasion. It’s not fun.

I like a lot of the grooves in rap music. Some of the production is truly inspired, and the way the djs can weave samples and beats together can be mighty compelling.

But I find some of the rapping itself to be a bit exhausting. The subject matter can get a tad oppressive with prolonged listening, and wish at times I could shut the rapper off and just listen to the grooves being spun by the producers. Any rap out there that’s at bit more uplifting and, fr’instance, free of blatant pimp-worship, yet manages not to be so lightweight as to be uninspired musically and lyrically?

You know they have country rap now, it’s called … crap. :smiley:

Haven’t we seen you do this before?

Not sure, are you peeking through my bathroom window?

i feel somewhat qualified to answer this being a bit of a “hip-hop head”

for the record, im a middle class white kid

i CAN NOT STAND to watch MTV or any of the crap they play. I dont care about it, it is made with the idea of making money.

for me its all about the underground. Underground rappers have no chance at making money off their music, thus they are in it purely for the art. This is when it begins to thrive. (Note: I am not talking about people who are underground because they can not break into the mainstream, I mean people who are underground and plan to stay there.)

“Good rap” does not HAVE to be politically or socially minded, although a majority of it is. A perfect example of this is underground stalwarts Jedi Mind Tricks (who just came out with a great new album called Legacy of Blood I urge all of you to pick up). They are BRUTALLY violent, every song is nothing but talking about the ways they plan to kill some unnamed person. All set for failure. They are set apart, not just by their (admittedly EXCELENT) lyrical ability, but by the way they combine brutal violence with extreme intelligence. Using historical references throughout their insults, they insult you in ways you have to look up to understand.


“JusAllah preys on the minds of the young, silencing the devil that speaks with forked tongue, taste my blades sharpness, ranked in no class like Marxists, the heartless, rise out of darkness”

“Open the gates of Midian, for the fangs like the flesh
three cyborgs who Bang like Ladesh”

“Evil raps’ll, reverse time and bring diseases
Christians will worship Allah and Muslims will worship Jesus”

“I’m the one who’s seated, on a throne within a forcefield
Y’all get tossed and feel lost like Holden Caulfield”

“The raw mangler, seven angles of Angular
Strangle the pagans who stayed in the pages of Diameter
Rhyme shatterer, with nine rhymes I’m hackin you
The author will scorch ya with the s of Joseph Mangler
Sended you to the squared circle to meet me
To beat me won’t be easy, you’ll face theses of Nietszche”

You get the idea. Anyway, there is plenty of underground rap that is political. Immortal Technique is a prime example of this. I urge all of you to try him out. He’s very intelligent. Rough around the edges for the faint of heart.

Sage Francis is a poet. Sweatshop Union are political geniuses. Paris and prez are black militants. Swollen Members don’t say anything important, but they are simply extremely talented.

The point is, there is no single quality that defines any of these as “good” and mainstream rap as “bad.” It’s simply a matter of preference. You know it when you see it.

Thats my two cents.

Well said Loopydude - thanks. My basic frustration is whenever anyone starts off by stating a point of view that any genre of music is “bad,” when clearly millions of other people think otherwise, is small-minded and immature.

There are MANY genres of music I don’t like, but I realize that that is my problem - I haven’t taken the time to understand them and identify good examples.

When a person discards a category of art out of hand, it says more about the person than the art.

Or maybe it’s just that you don’t like them. I agree that Middlecase shouldn’t have said what he said - but then in truth it was more annoying for how he phrased it as opposed to what his basic point was (if indeed, he even had one).

I don’t mind differences of opinion when it comes to music. Take me, for example. There are some types of punk-rock/ska that I’m just never gonna like - no matter what. You could convince me of it’s technical brilliance or mastery till the cows come home in private helicopters - it’s just not gonna take. Neither you nor I should get upset over this, however. Like anything, it’s just a taste thing. Some like, some won’t.

What’s probably irking you about his post (I’m just guessing here - and to be honest, you wouldn’t be in a minority) is that he hasn’t justified what he’s said (or meant); just attempted to look smart by posting a one-liner with a word consisting of more than 6 letters. Bravo. By the looks of it though, he hasn’t impressed anyone.

That’s an extremely interesting post.

Do people who follow “the underground” actually get all of the clever references they make to global politics? I probably would pick something more for it’s rhythm and rhyme myself - however to think the lyrics are saturated with sustained sociological messages is pretty hit.

The closest I got to understanding stuff from rap was Forgot about Dre., when he talks about how all the old jungle cats picked up and left when the going got tough - and how he’s bounced back (“Gimme one more platinum plaque…F**k the rap… you can have it back”).

Also, explain the following lines from your post…

Are these guys talking about a supposed peace between both religions? A New World order?

And what the hell does Bangladesh have to do with all of this (I don’t understand the significance of the 3 cyborgs. What are they supposed to be?)

Buck 65’s song “Secret Splendor” is incredible.

LOFL at trying to make sense of Jedi Mind Tricks lyrics. I’ve recommended JMT around here quite a bit in the past – I still like them a lot, but sense is not something you take from them. a quick recipie for Jedi Mind Tricks:

• one part world religons degree
• one part Illuminati conspiracy whacko
• one part acidtrip ramblings
• one part “I’m dorky, and I’ve read a whole lotta books and know a ton of random shit”
• one part thug
• one part of staring up at the sky waiting for the mothership to land

Mix in a blender and serve over really good beats and production. JMT’s first two albums ‘The Psycho Social LP’ and ‘Violent by Design’) were really good. Their third, ‘Visions of Gandhi’ was so bad I don’t even want to check out their newest one. If you’re into examining lyrics to walk away with a profound message, this is not the place to do it. It’s more like being entertained by the ramblings of a smart-went-crazy professor who now yells at people on the corner all day long.

right i should have been clearer.

Jedi Mind Tricks lyrics do not actually make points, they are simply interesting and creative references and metaphors. “Three cyborgs” is because three people are rapping on the song. “Bang like Ladesh” is simply a clever way of saying they are skileld.


Personally I like Digable Planets and A Tribe Called Quest. Neither are “gangsta” rap, and they aren’t all about bling bling and being millionaires that throw their money around. Digable Planets have a rap about a woman’s right to choose.

A friend of mine in high school liked KRS-One, but I never really listened to him.

[Moderator speaketh] I agree that it is unimaginative and pretty much cloddish to come into a thread about a specific genre and then make some disparaging remark about the whole genre. If you don’t like that genre, don’t bother with the thread.

However annoying such behaviour might be, do not insult the person who behaved that way. Report to a Moderator if you will, but don’t be the one who starts the insults, OK?

What vinniepaz said.

The problem is that a lot of people who say that all rap is crap are only hearing the stuff on the radio and on MTV. The really good stuff is in the underground.

If someone were to listen to some of the groups I listed above and still not like it, that’s okay. But if they just say, “I’ll bet all that stuff just sounds the same, so I won’t even bother,” then they are being willfully ignorant.


I have been into “hardcore” hip-hop for just over 9 years now - - previous to that I listened to MC Hammer - Vanilla Ice, Arrested Development ( I was a kid ) and in fact if I go back “Rap” has been a major part of most of the music I liked even as a smaller child… (Kraftwerk, Adam Ant)

It is very hard to say what is good or bad in hip-hop/rap - - in fact sometimes you even need to separate hip-hop from rap - - I don’t consider very much of what Nelly does as hip-hop, but I do accept his style as a form of rap - -

and it’s difficult because I agree with a lot of people about what constitutes a good rapper (rhythm skills, lyrical skills, thought provoking content) - - but there are somedays when slapping on one of Snoop’s early “I don’t give a f**k about ho’s, I use AK’s kill b*tchez, take drugs” etc… seems like teh best thing in the world… and that was mainly down to the music quality, and the fact that the lyrics were catchy…

What I resent (wow I didn’t mean to write an essay!) is when I was getting into “hip-hop” people around me dismissed it as “people talking over noise” - - these same people seem to be big fans of “the Streets” - - ( for anyone who hasn’t heard of - The Streets is a group consisting of a guy I would consider a poet - not a rapper, over more dance beats ) - to me he does just talk over music that I personally find has no real merit (mostly)

i’m being careful to stress that when it comes to music, no-one’s opinion is wrong - - unless you like dance :wink:

I also make hip-hop music - - and my outlook is to make stuff I like - if other people like it - thats a bonus - but if I wouldn’t listen to it - I wont make it…

you can judge my stuff for yourself here - be warned we do use the occasional cuss word! - we’re rappers man!

Of course any opinion on it would be greatly received but no need for it here - with have our own website and a forum that no-one seems to use… here

In conclusion - what is good rap?? any rap that you listen to and enjoy.
apart from anything by No Limit records…

Tales from the cryptic

I gotta mention two underrated groups, well one group and one solo artist. The group is 40 Watt Hype, and the artist is Kompressor. Kompressor isn’t really good rap, but he’s entertaining rap. 40WH is good, intelligent stuff.

IMHO, you have to approach this answer with two routes, as one would approach any discussion of “good” music. Think of it as looking towards the new and the old in the music.

Like most music, the best rap prides itself on being “new”, that is innovative and innovating. In the rap world, this is played out on a number of routes. The best music is often amongst the most innovative – new styles, something different yet interesting, people who sound unique. There are hundreds of different directions this goes (in a bit of a reverse chronology): Dizzy Rascal, The Streets, Eminem, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, the Wu-Tang Clan, the Roots, Tribe, NWA then Dr. Dre and Snoop, Run DMC, Public Enemy, all the way back to Afrikaa Bambataa and the Zulu Nation. All of them stood out because they were totally different than what came before and represented new outbranchings which were interesting and fun to listen.

And the second is how much they serve the “old.” That is, IMHO, how do they serve the original purposes of hip-hop and rap. The unique thing about rap is how much you can actually say; so how much do they say? Since hip hop DJs got their start extending breaks for B-Boys and other dancers, does the music make you want to move? So the best beats, and often the best DJs and producers, win out. Dre, Jay-Z and Kanye West, yes the Neptunes, J-5 (with Cut Chemist), the Beasties, The Roots using such musical talent as Rahzel and ?uestlove.

So basically, what Duke Ellington said.