Why Rap Isn't Music

Charlie K    |

Rappers use drums, beats, turntables, guitars, bass, keyboards, and any other type of instrument to add energy to their beats and melodies. We have come to accept these sounds as elements of music because of how they are used.

I'll let you decide for yourself, but based on the above description, one can begin to recognize the elements of music and understand how they fit into a musical composition.

Similar to any form of music, rappers use repetitive sound patterns to develop their themes. All good rappers recognize the important aspects of rhythm.

Many of the most well-known rappers also utilize certain types of chords and scales to help them achieve their musical objectives.

The use of sampled sounds is widespread in rap. Most rappers are talented, and many go beyond their skill level to make great music.

I understand that there are very talented hip-hop artists, but talented artists' presence doesn't mean that their music is good. That being said, the use of samples is not a clear sign of musical superiority.

The following music samples demonstrate the use of samples in rap.

Who Is "J. Cole"?woman in white shirt standing on beach during daytime

As you can see, "J. Cole" is an incredibly talented artist. I know his music, and I have listened to his latest album, "4 Your Eyez Only."

I love his music. It's diverse and powerful, but I find a couple of his songs too weak as a critic.

I've also discovered some of his old songs, which feature a lot of well-known samples.

"J. Cole" released his most recent album, "4 Your Eyez Only," in November 2016.

It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart.

His sophomore album, "Born Sinner," also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. His first studio album, "Born Sinner," was certified Platinum by the RIAA in 2015, and it was also certified Gold by the RIAA in 2016. "Power Trip" is the fifth best-selling rap album in the U.S.

In 2016, "J. Cole" became the first hip-hop artist to have two number-one albums on the Billboard 200 at the same time.

"J. Cole" has gained recognition for his consistent production. A review of the Hip Hop Underground website stated that "J. Cole" has a "sophisticated sound that is a unique mix of bright, hopeful beats and hard, cold raps."

The following sample was sampled from J. Cole's song "SpottieOttieDopaliscious." The sample starts at the 0:16 mark.

The sample is from the video game "Tomb Raider." In the video game, a character named Lara Croft rides a motorcycle. The sample occurs at the 1:19 mark.

As you can see from the second sample, "J. Cole" also mixes in samples. I suggest that one take note of his varied use of sampling, particularly the sample used at the 2:08 mark of the following sample.

The sample is from the 1991 film "Boomerang." The sample occurs at the 3:40 mark.

A few years after "J. Cole" released his debut album, a fan-created a remix of "I'm On One" featuring another rapper named "Travis Scott." The remix was made on the fan's YouTube channel.

However, many fans felt that it was "J. Cole" that was being sampled in the remix. Some fans thought that it was "Travis Scott" who was "J. Cole."

As it turns out, the two rappers are the same person. "J. Cole" and Travis Scott have both released their debut studio albums. The following video showcases the use of samples in hip-hop.

How can we check the popularity of a rap album?man in white and black hat

I must be honest. I've never actually listened to a hip-hop album. How am I supposed to determine if the "J. Cole" album is amazing or just another mediocre album?

To answer this question, I decided to use a few commonly used tools in social psychology research.

I conducted a quick internet search to see if I could find evidence that people actually pay attention to rap albums. Here's what I found.


This website provides visual representations of how much attention different people pay to different stimuli. Sampleplacement.com's primary function is to compare the visual attention of people to two different stimuli.

For example, if someone is shown an image for one second, they will perceive the image for three seconds. The main goal of the website is to measure what the attention level is.

People tend to pay less attention to images than sounds.

Sampleplacement.com offers a free trial to test the attention levels of a person and a sound. To use the free trial, you need to be a member of the site. I chose to test the attention level of "J. Cole" by listening to an album sample.

I downloaded and listened to the album on my laptop for 15 minutes. The website suggested a sample rate of 90. I listened to the track 5 times.

After listening to the track 5 times, I compared the computer's responses to the responses from my friends. The computer responded with an 85% attention level.

I could hear the track was about to be played. At one point, I listened to the sample and then played the song.

I did this 3 more times. My friends didn't respond to the track until the end.

This shows that the sample isn't as important as my friend's initial perception.

Stereotypes of "rap"Late Night Mixing

When most people hear "rap," they think of emcees rapping about their feelings and desires through rhyme and beat. However, rappers often find themselves at odds with many stereotypes and images of the genre.

A common one is that rappers are unintelligent, having minimal brainpower or intellect, and "acting tough." Some rappers also believe they are "born with it" and shouldn't have to "work their ass off."

These stereotypical traits have in common that they attribute those traits to the genre as a whole. Just because someone is bad at something doesn't mean they are bad at everything.

The singer/songwriter or musician, like a basketball player or an athlete, may not be the best at everything. They may not be the most creative or the most skilled in their chosen craft. However, they all make a living and can provide for themselves.

Likewise, the artist/rapper may not pursue their dreams, but they can also still create.

Real rap (music)

Rap is often equated to the mundane, materialistic, and unambitious ways in which American society functions. Many rappers will paint a picture of these things, and they do portray it well.

However, those are not the only kinds of music that exist.

Some rap artists are extremely talented in producing their craft and are often known to make their own beats. This allows them to deliver the best music possible.

Some rap artists have real instruments and can play them in the studio while also rapping at the same time. The most talented of these artists can often create great sounds and have a talent for engineering music and creating beats.

An argument can also be made that rap is the "new jazz." When popular jazz musicians like Miles Davis and John Coltrane were being praised in the 1940s and 1950s, many critics called their music "artificial" because they were calling attention to the notes being played. The rhythm was nonexistent.

However, when Jazz musicians listened to their music, they would likely tell the difference between a real beat and a beat recorded.

John Coltrane was known for one of his most famous solos called "A Love Supreme," which has been described as "art," and to be about "love" and "a higher force that binds us all together in a love that transcends all."

Now, if "art" is being praised, then why do critics continue to degrade and discredit the genre of rap? It can't be because they don't understand what the music is about, can it?

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