New generation of dance music ignores artistic history of rap

Column by Bryan Kennedy

A few weeks ago, I was riding around in my car listening to satellite radio. I turned to one of the rap stations to hear DJ UNK’s and Wine-O’s newest song, “Hokey Pokey,” playing.

As I turned up the volume I realized the music was the old elementary school song with a weak attempt to add basic rap lyrics.

That’s where I draw the line.

After DJ UNK’s success last year with songs such as “Walk It Out” and “2 Step” I never knew that he would reach down to this level, but I was way wrong.

The continuing craze of “dance move rap” has yet to diminish since last year. With the growing popularity of “Chicken Noodle Soup” last year, by far the worst of them all, the new craze of this genre has continued to control our airwaves.

The recent release of Soulja’s Boy’s hit single, “Crank Dat,” continues this new sensation of “dance move rap.” Once again, an emcee lacking in creativity makes a decent beat and then adds a new dance move to it. This simple recipe is what Soulja Boy and others have used to sling shot themselves onto the rap scene.

It’s sad to see that rappers such as Kanye West and T.I., whose songs have traditionally included more significant meaning, are being pushed down in record sales and top-10 countdowns because of this new type of rap music.

West’s most recent CD features two such songs of meaning. His first song, “Stronger,” leads off with the lyrics of, “That which doesn’t kill me can only make me stronger.” The message behind the whole song is, of course, that what doesn’t take you out can make you a better person. This kind of lyrical message is predominantly vacant in all of these new “dance move rap” songs.

In West’s second single, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” he speaks about the arrogance that came with his early success, and his belief that money was the key to everything.

This message is also vital to any young adult. Even when you do get money, it won’t solve all your problems.

Another lyric states, “To whom much is given, much is tested.” This is another line in West’s song that speaks volumes, and doesn’t need explanation.

West even has a line in a song that asks its listeners, “Does anyone make any real stuff anymore?” This just goes to show that the real rappers know that this new genre of rap music isn’t “real.”

On the other hand, there is a place for this type of music. In clubs around the country the majority of “dance move rap” songs I have listed are top hits and are played numerous times throughout the night.

Clubs like these are the natural home this particular genre, but there is a problem when this music tries to take the place of “real” rap.

Even the world of hip-hop has previously held itself to certain artistic standards that are threatened, if not blatantly discarded, by this new genre.

It is scary to think that the days of old rap music over; the days of poetry put to music are over. I don’t want to think this, but with rappers such as DJ UNK and Soulja Boy taking over the airwaves with their music, there is a possibility that this rap music could overtake rap with true lyrical content.

For now, we true rap fans have to take a back seat until this new craze is over and outdated.

Bryan Kennedy is a journalism sophomore. E-mail                [email protected]