I am a minority when it comes to music. The music that speaks to me is not looked upon with awe and respect by the average person. Country music is seen as nothing but a lament about loosing the girlfriend/wife, trucks, my dog and beer. I will admit, there are a few songs that fit that criteria and then some, but I never understood why people dislike it with such vehemence. When I look to myself and my own visceral distaste for Hip-Hop and rap music... I suppose I could understand a little.
The lecture given by Dr. Adam Bradley was very insightful. He mentioned a Hip-Hop culture being learned and adopted in five different ways:
- Breaking (break dancing)
- Graf (graffiti)
Bradley's approach to the culture of Hip-Hop was through the fifth avenue, that of intellect. I appreciated this approach very much because I have seen or experienced the other four and clearly it has made no connection to me what-so-ever. The last approach however, piqued my interest because it brought to the table something more than just the bling, sex appeal and fame. It brought a quality that I could connect with.
A strange connection that Bradley made was that of American writer Emily Dickinson to the Wutang Clan. Now I have no idea who the Wutang Clan is but I know Emily Dickinson is and lets be clear, she ain't Hip-Hop! What was so awesome about this connection for Bradley though, was that it was his connection. He was able to make a connection between words written by Dickinson and a song by the Clan that brought one very important component to the forefront; lexicon.
In one of my classes, Personality Theory, we discussed the lexical hypothesis. It is basically the idea that language is how we express personality. At least it's how we quantify personality. Thus, if an alien race were to visit earth and learn our lexicon, they could decipher our individual personalities (kinda sorta, you get the idea). So it is through language that we are connected. There is disconnect because of the various languages on this globe, but each lexicon has it's own nuances and specificities. We get lucky in that both Dickinson and the Clan speak through the same lexicon of the English language. Through that, Bradley was able to make the connection and thus allow me to make my own connection between Hip-Hop, beauty, the human condition and myself.
The last thing that Bradley discussed in his lecture, was a three tiered approach to the poetry of Hip-Hop. There was rhythm. He stated that the human voice has a unique rhythm that transcends the use of instruments. It is this instrument of the voice, our own unique voice, that allows us to worship God in our own individual ways. The second tier was rhyme, the play on words that we experience as young children through the writings of Dr. Suess. Bradley argued that we could all come from a different place, use a different form, see through a different context yet demonstrate a singular format when it comes to rhyming. The third and last tier was that of figurative language. An example that Bradley focused on here was that of the pun. Considered by some to be the lowest form of comedy, yet used and appreciated by all. It's through the play on multiple meanings that adds depth to our lexicon.
Through this lecture on the intellectual attributes of Hip-Hop, I have taken large stride and a small dip into a world that I have for so long shunned and shied away from. They are different than me, they have different values than I have. Yet, Hip-Hop uses the same lexicon as I do. It uses the same forms as I do. It feels and emotes the same way I do. Hip-Hop is an expression of the human soul. Who am I to judge the expression of the human soul in this context?