Even though mainstream media has always had its issues with hip-hop, it may be our best hope at musical expression. For some of us and most generations to follow, there will be no music taught in public schools as funding is being slashed for it everywhere. This means pure instrumentation is no longer a focal point in most production. This perhaps is and what has given rise to rap as an artistic expression. There is little to no need for knowing major and minor scales. The only thing needed to become a great rapper is a basic grasp of the English language. There’s no need for expensive equipment or instruments, now most iPhone is equipped standard with apps that would allow anyone to make music.
In most musical situation artist are expressing themselves in some form or another. Whether it’s a playful look at an addiction to a drug or a reflection on neighborhood growing pains, rap has given us an avenue to make the black experience more relatable to everyone. With the ease of making music, especially rap, more stories are being told. This may in time mean that Kendrick Lamar is studied the way that Maya Angelou is now. The way Lamar addresses his wins and losses growing up in Compton can be likened to any great novel, such as I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. There will be copies of his work streamed as homework over the summer for incoming freshman. Though it seems far fetched as a concept now, with the downturn in the art in schools it may be just a matter of time. Even now there are intellectual views on albums like Illmatic.
There is a certain genius in using other sounds to create new and sometimes completely individual pieces of work. Finding a sound, sampling it. Looping that sample. Then applying addition drums, strings, horns and whatever other sounds with no serious knowledge about the way music works is a small miracle in itself. To some, Metro Boomin may have done much more for music than any of the Beatles, even without actually being able to play any instruments.
There is much to be said about rap as a vehicle to convey African American identity. There a tons of parallels between the music and the culture itself. The sample, the idea of taking something and flipping it around and making it exponentially better is something that black culture thrives on. With music programs being cut across the country, due to lack of funding, it’s only a matter a time before rap’s Mount Rushmore are looked at through the same lens as Mozart or Beethoven. Over the years we, as a culture, have shaped the musical landscape, from adding our own lexicon to the dictionary to influencing fashion trends. It only makes sense that now contemporary artist is given the same respect as the classical ones.
Music is not the only art form being cut from schools. Visual art is also being attacked as well. Without creative outlets, perhaps art as we know it will change its face completely. The future seems to be completely digital including art. Either way without live instrumentation being taught in public schools, the landscape of music will soon change forever.