Sunday, December 04, 2016

Why Adults Don't Learn to Like Rap

Not that I have ever tried, but I have developed zero appreciation for rap as a musical genre. Not even the odd song here or there. I have roughly the same appreciation for it that my father, born 1932, had for rock: none whatsoever.

So when I reported back to my kids that I over-the-moon LOVED the Hamilton soundtrack, they were like "Even the rap?" Yes, even the rap. Things is--I wouldn't have recognized it as rap, without prompting. I would have just said it was spoken-word material, seamlessly incorporated into an ultra-sophisticated piece of peerless musical theater. 

I think I know why I choke on any rap I encounter in the wild, while Hamilton went down like a fine aged whiskey. It's not that different than rock. Rock was the soundtrack of my adolescence, so I automatically developed an appreciation for it. But by college, I was getting tired of most rock, with its juvenile, repetitive themes of partying, young love, rebellion and--worst of all--being in a band and "rocking out". I listened to less rock, and didn't discover any new rock, beyond the college years.

So same phenomenon with rap. If not born in the rap generation, the themes and the cultural baggage are likely to prevent an older listener from developing a taste. This review gets at it:
Tesfaye’s relish for playing the bad guy in his musical theater is plumb in line with what rappers have done for decades...But as Tesfaye reaches his late 20s and the dubious ethics combine with lazy repetition and too many plays for sympathy, the immaturity starts to bore.

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