Sep 15, 2009


I'm wondering if rap will follow the same course as its ancestors, blues, jazz, rock, techno. Or, will it copy traits of its more obvious relative, funk?

What makes funk different from the other genres of black music is that white's couldn't duplicate its raw soul. White Funk is absolutely awful (like nu metal, I can't think of a single artist I enjoy). But, when artists take funk's influences rather than directly creating it the result is much more interesting (e.g., A Certain Ratio, Amon Düül II's "Only Human").

Rap seems to share a lot in common with funk beside the obvious influence. I thought rap might take the same path: highly influential, but completely adopted by white artists. This seemed the way it was going (even despite rants when Eminem and Bubba Sparxxx were at their most popular). You can see it in many American artists from Beck, WHY?,  Russian Futurists and Ratatat (sorry, those examples suck). But, I'm not so sure anymore. I think we'll continue to see the high influence of rap in white music, but I think we'll get a share of white artists making actual rap music. Remember when Blondie and Dee Dee Ramone (Dee Dee King when rapping) took on rap in the 1980's? I think we might see something similar again, but better (hopefully).

I've tried to predict rap's future since 2006, but this video of a  Joaquin Phoenix looking like a Soft Parade-era-Morrison in Jay-Z's suite prompted me to reconsider rap's future. Perhaps, rap will appeal to whites as blues did.

In 1997, my youth group leader said rap will follow the same path "70's Rock" did: From glamor and partying to burn-out-blues and self-reflection. I believed him then because I was naive, but maybe he was right. Maybe this is where white artists take rap through a new era.

We're long over due for a new, ahead-of-its-time genre from the black community. Maybe Jay-Z is right. Maybe the black community needs a nudge from indie music. Or maybe talented Joaquin's will follow and unearth new creativity. Or, maybe we're looking in the wrong place. Should we look to the Latinos?