Friday, February 25, 2011

The World is Gunna Know Your Name, Man!

Sorry folks, but I'm going to direct our attention back to Benjamin Franklin for a few moments. As the architect of the American Dream, Franklin believed in self-help, personal responsibility, and perseverance. Recently I found a video that portrays Alexander Hamilton as a man who embodied the American Dream more than, if I may be so bold, than our dear Ben Franklin. I was surprised to learn the hardships Hamilton had to endure in order to make it in America. Also, I was impressed by the presentation of Hamilton's story through contemporary poetry (aka rap). While I'm on that subject, what do you think of rap as an art?


  1. I really enjoyed that video. Rapping/spoken poetry is a good way of discussing the American dream because it perpetuates rhetoric like "in new york you can be a new man" that gives people pride in their country. The speaker's bias/voice usually comes through as well to connect with the art, which helps the audience identify with what he or she is saying.

  2. I also really liked that video. How did you find out about it? To be honest, I don't know that much about Alexander Hamilton, so I can't say whether or not he embodied the American Dream more than Benjamin Franklin did. Regardless, I think most, if not all, of the Founding Fathers symbolized the American Dream because they all helped create its definition. They were responsible for establishing our independence, so in a way they defined what it means to be an American.

    While I personally do not listen to rap very frequently, I do think it is art. There are very few rappers that I listen to, but the ones that I do like I believe are very talented artists. Anything nowadays can be considered "art," which does detract from its meaning. Defining "art" is a very difficult task, especially in modern times when art has expanded to many different genres. I think the main purpose of art is that it stimulates the senses, emotions, and thoughts. Rap, like any other music, does this. So, rap is art to me. However, a lot of the definitions I found online say that art is an expression/production of "beauty." Would you consider rap beautiful?

  3. Believe it or not, Dear Students, cnce upon a time, Flavor Flav was not an actual clown. He was a trickster, and he played a hand in writing one of the best records ever recorded: Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet. (He also, it should be noted, helped Public Enemy write a slew of other really strong records as well.) Public Enemy's brilliance was only occasionally overshadowed by that of Boogie Down Productions.

    So yes, I think rap is an art. One of the problems that has plagued recent rap music has been the strict control that's been exercised over sampling. Public Enemy's production team, The Bomb Squad, laced together samples from countless records, and, given today's restrictions on that form of work, music like theirs just can't exist anymore--because no one really has the money to pay for permission to use samples of copyrighted material, which is why I just don't find contemporary rap music that interesting.

    In a sense, then, rap is Franklinesque in its roots. Early rap artists--and certainly many contemporary ones--create by taking the work of others and transforming it into their own aesthetic. It's definitely DiY, in short.

    Still, I was kind of WTFing throughout this Hamilton performance. Is it meant to be tongue-in-cheek? Is it serious? Is it ironic? What's with the lounge act piano in the background? I don't really know. It may be art, but I doubt it.

  4. Perhaps the celebration of Flava Flav's clown persona is what put rap in limbo between c(rap) and art...well and this. I definitely think the sampling process is a reason as to why contemporary rap is struggling with critics.

    It is easy to see the potential that rap could have when looking at bands like Girl Talk and Pretty Lights. Those two bands sample their music illegally (or at least did in the beginning) and give away their music online, making most if not all of their money on tour. These groups are becoming extremely popular and I think in it we can see a new genre forming in them.

  5. Ugg, Andrew. Ugg. And by Ugg, I don't mean boots.

  6. I normally don't listen to rap because I have never like the style. I will say that it is how you use your talents in order to show your own art style. I think Flava Flav is one of the exceptions with his ridiculous apparel. I don't see any talent besides him doing the ridiculous to stay in the publics eye with his huge clock and a love reality show.