Ben Shapiro is wrong about rap | 1791

For many within the conservative movement,
rap is a uniformly negative reflection of the worst ills and excesses of society. It romanticizing everything wrong with the
way society is headed, and the more hardlined who hold this view believe it isn’t even
music in the first place. This line of reasoning is frequently and most
notably echoed by the leading figure of the conservative movement, Ben Shapiro. Shapiro has commented on rap on a number of
occasions, but he published an article that neatly summarizes his position on this cultural
force. Titled ‘Rap is Crap,’ it’s a phrase
every conservative who reflexively mocks rap has at one point thoughtlessly sputtered. It’s thoughtless not because there aren’t
respectable reasons to simply not like rap; people dislike whole genres undeniably often,
after all. Think of the common statement “I love all
music except country”. But disliking a form of music is much different
than claiming that opinion is an absolute. And similarly, not liking a genre doesn’t
make you racist, as many of Shapiro’s leftist critics idiotically claim. In his piece, Shapiro holds up T.I. as a representative
model of rap as a whole, but he’s also prone to purposely misinterpreting rap. His analysis of Cardi B’s music video for
Bodak Yellow comes to mind. Throughout, he’s confused. He mocks the ungrammatical nature of her lyrics,
and he thinks that her being in a desert is some sort of political statement on gender
equality in Saudi Arabia rather than a randomly exotic backdrop for her music. This throw into doubt the sincerity of Shapiro’s
“takedown.” Is he genuinely convinced that people are
reading into this music video that Cardi B is holding up Saudi Arabia as a beacon of
gender equality? And though some interpret her song as a statement
on feminism, it’s doubtful that the artist herself had thought that much into it. In one breath, Shapiro scoffs at the seeming
thoughtlessness of this kind of rap, and in another he assigns political motivations where
convenient. His confusion doesn’t end with Cardi B’s
sand dunes. He pushes on, in reaction to another popular
track, so very confused by Future’s “where ya ass was at?”, well in-keeping with his
rigid attention to grammar. You begin to wonder whether he’s actually
unable to translate Future’s question into plain English. Shapiro likely knows what he means, but he’s
criticizing it for being ungrammatical. That hardline way of thinking ignores that
much of art eschews strict adherence to rules, grammar, and reality under creative license. The meaning, in spite of the lyrics’ lack
of grammar, remains intact. Future is conveying something that, at its
core, isn’t essentially unconservative. He’s asking the question of where those
near to him now were when he was working his way up the ladder, harkening to the fact that
his success had to be earned by he alone. There are many ways to convey this sentiment,
but isn’t it more important that such messages get across in the first place? Language is a tool, not an end unto itself. After all, it’s doubtful that a single,
basically intelligent person is going to start ending their questions with prepositions and
tossing in “your asses” just because a rapper did. At the same time, one can encourage young
people to master the English language, while enjoying rap as a simple form of exaggerated
entertainment. And it would be equally silly to mock or act
confused while listening to jamaican dancehall artists when they say “tings” instead
of things. His tendency to overthink rap and inject political
motives that usually aren’t there blinds him to properly addressing both rap’s flaws
and its merits. Say what you will about rap or any other genre
for that matter, but if you approach it with the mentality that it’s bad in every way
imaginable, it’s no surprise when you’re unwilling to be receptive to it in every way. Applying a political lens to everything is
harmful, whether that comes from the feminist, or racially-tinged corners of the radical
left or the right. It’s perfectly fair to dislike most of a
genre, but it is essential to understand its appeal from a politically neutral standpoint. Shapiro’s “Rap is Crap” article followed
rapper T.I.’s arrest for illegally owning a variety of guns and suppressors. But the gravest sin on the part of T.I. isn’t
his criminal extracurricular activities, but instead the substance of his music. That is the crux of the conservative mindset
on rap. The typical conservative thinking goes, not
only are its performers frequently delinquent, but they champion that style of living in
their music. And while it is accurate to say that the most
popular contemporary artists today fall into that camp, it fails to account for what drives
general interest in this form of music. It isn’t motivated by a sincere desire to
plunge into absurd volumes of strange women, hit some liqs, or wear gold chains that stretch
down as far as their sagging jeans. This is especially not the motivation for
the vast majority of the public who listen to this music casually. Given that it dependably tops the charts,
if that were the case we would be seeing pandemic bloodshed on the streets and uncontrollable
domestic abuse (not to mention STDs galore). Clearly, there is an unignorable entertainment
factor that accounts for its eminent popularity, and it’s the same one that undergirds the
scenes and plots from violent video games and ridiculous movies. It can almost be seen as absurd self-satire;
for instance, when you see rappers talking about having as many bitches on their dicks
as they claim they do. It’s hard to believe conservatives are genuinely
convinced this reflects any semblance of reality. In fact, artists themselves acknowledge what
they say in their records is often grossly exaggerated or ridiculous. Raps many and reoccurring feuds, for example,
mirror performances like the WWE, which doesn’t exactly market itself as fake, but is scripted
for the audience’s entertainment. Like WWE superstars, rappers love to ignite
them and flex for the sake of driving public interest, streams, and sales. And most of their fans know it and the 10
year olds that don’t inevitably find out that it’s all for show. The act of overthinking the ridiculous lyrics
found in the newest trap banger would be as silly as condemning Dumb & Dumber for romanticizing
stupidity or the WWE for romanticizing unrepentant violence. The WWE itself, for that matter, often found
itself the target of such criticism. It similarly faced backlash for negatively
influencing youth, as if the WWE painted this violence as something worthy of imitation. Unfortunately for such critics, we’ll see
these elements of human nature play out in virtually every medium of entertainment, because
it’s just that: a piece of human nature. For these reasons, conservatives miss quite
a bit when they point to the foolish actions of someone like T.I. and suggest that this
is the impression any sane listener will come away with. But not all conservatives think that the music
of T.I. and others is going to have some sweeping impact on the culture, but rather that it
will impact vulnerable minority communities. Liam Julian of National Review, for example,
writes “Hip-hop does not, for instance, play a big role in the lives of most affluent
kids, who may just listen to rap while traveling to and from school, or at weekend parties,
or while playing sports. This group of young Americans does not see
truth in hip-hop’s messages nor strive to emulate its “lifestyle” … Sadly, the
same cannot be said of lots of poor, black kids. For these young Americans, hip-hop’s lyrics
are too often real reflections of life; too often they come to embody goals, and aspirations. The public, to its immense discredit, is less
honest than it should be about rap’s pernicious influence.” But even accepting that this is true, does
the problem lie with the medium or the culture itself? After all, when someone falls prey to video
game addiction, is the fault with the video game developers or the addict himself? On those grounds, you would make the same
and largely discredited case that the Nicholas Cruzs of the world will be inspired by the
violent imagery in video games to carry out their deadly, vengeance fueled acts. You can hardly blame the industry as a whole
when people attempt to act out whatever form of entertainment they’re consuming in extreme
ways even while the overwhelming majority of others are able to do so and go about their
lives happily and healthily. More pressingly, if you do, what is the solution? The only apparent one is to demonize a type
of entertainment that is otherwise enjoyed by the bulk of people for not only innocent,
but lighthearted reasons. Critics of rap like Liam Julian of National
Review are also mistaken to claim that the genre one dimensionally glorifies a lifestyle
of degeneracy and violence. Even the artist he cites, T.I., in one of
his most successful tracks ever, Dead and Gone, speaks of this “lifestyle” in dark
and decidedly unromantic terms: Never mind that now, you lucky to be alive,
Just think it all started you, fussin’ with three guys
Now ya pride in the way, but ya pride is the way you
Could fuck around, get shot die any day Niggas die, every day all over
Bull shit No more stress, now I’m straight,
Now I get it now I take time to think, Before I make mistakes, just for my family’s
sake That part of me left yesterday, the heart
of me is strong today No regrets I’m blessed to say, the old me
dead and gone away. In the same way, the idea that rap simply
glorifies misogyny also reveals a lack of familiarity with even the genre’s most popular
tracks. Take for instance the chart topping “Violent
Crimes” off of Kanye West’s newest album: ye. Niggas is savage, niggas is monsters
Niggas is pimps, niggas is players ‘Til niggas have daughters, now they precautious
Father forgive me, I’m scared of the karma ‘Cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture
Not somethin’ to conquer I pray your body’s draped more like mine and
not like your mommy’s Just bein’ salty, but niggas is nuts
And I am a nigga, I know what they want Moving beyond the fact that rap is not nearly
as thoughtless or decadent as its critics believe, by focusing solely on the excesses
of rap, they miss a key part of rap’s role in the culture. Where virtually every other industry of mainstream
entertainment and media has cloaked itself in contempt for our capitalist system, the
overwhelming majority of rappers celebrate their hard-won successes. In doing so, they offer a message of inspiration
to those who otherwise would only hear that their lack of success is because they’re
being denied something by an oppressive other. This is the only cultural force that serves
as a rare voice of optimism in an increasingly pessimistic world. It, unlike any other, champions the virtue
of self-earned success. A$AP Rocky – Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2
I ain’t never lookin’ for no handouts Broke ass niggas never helpin’ but they hands out
Devestated At times I thought we’d never make it
But now we on our way to greatness And all that ever took was patience
I-I-I-I used to feel so devastated At times I thought we’d never make it, yeah
But now we on our way to greatness And all that ever took was patience
Okay, just getting better each day Stacking that cheddar, cheese cake
Looking up to the Lord, we pray Trying to be my best each day
Until I’m laid to rest we lay, yeah ‘Til the time being we lit
Hoping I don’t let it get all in my head I don’t need money just to say that I’m rich
3. Drake – Scholarship
I wake up, pray every morning These demons, they callin’ my soul I said fuck all of you
hoes I’m ballin’ outta control I’m ballin’ outta control If I can give everything back
to you All this passion I got, all I ever needed For me to move on and succeed For me
to move on and succeed Jealousy, envy and greed Too much of that shit I don’t need it Naturally, conservatives look at the largely
leftist politics of rap artists and think that that must be entirely what the philosophy
beneath their lyrics is saying. When in fact, even the most vocal and angry
leftists, such as the now-infamous Eminem, have passionately expressed important conservative
values–weird as it may sound. A solid example would be this line from his
track Beautiful: Nobody asked for life to deal us
With these bullshit hands we’re dealt We gotta take these cards ourselves
And flip ’em, don’t expect no help Now, I could’ve either just sat on my ass
And pissed and moaned Or take this situation in which I’m placed
in And get up and get my own In another track, legendary Southern rapper
Gucci Mane represents the seemingly ignored strain of rap that reflects a deep ability
to identify faults and fix them. A message that is much needed within the communities
Liam Julian is worried about. Sometimes I think about my past, it make me
start tripping I was gifted with a talent that was god-given
But I was so hard-headed I would not listen Sometimes I sit and I reflect about that cold
prison And doin’ pull-ups with a nigga got a life
sentence They gave my nigga Grant life, he only gained
on me Five years later, how we in the same room? You go to jail, that’s when you see who really
love you I don’t think nobody love me like my auntie
Jean do But I forgive, I been forgiven, I hold grudges
too I’m just a work in progress, I’m not even
through But I forgive, I been forgiven, I hold grudges
too I’m just a work in progress, I’m not even
through This is to say that not only can rap be defended
against its negative criticisms, but it can be defended on positive grounds as well. Crudeness doesn’t negate meaning or value,
and oftentimes it doesn’t end there. Misleadingly, it can seem as though rap is
one dimensionally celebrating sexual hedonism and violence that conservatives are right
to detest. But all isn’t as it appears. If you looked at Kanye West’s “Power”
unthinkingly, for example, you could be excused for coming away with the impression that it’s
merely an anthem for reckless indulgence. What this piece really explores is a much
more sober, and self-conflicted take on the perils of power. This is why the Sword of Damocles lingers
over Kanye’s head in its music video, even though he’s surrounded by models and precious
metals. West compacts a wide array of artistic and
even philosophical meaning in what amounts to a supremely thoughtful piece of music. Mr. West’s video and lyrics are inspired
by Roman Philosopher Cicero’s meditation on Damocles to illustrate how captivating
grand wealth and power might seem on the surface, but how often forgotten is the responsibility
that comes with it. This is a theme Kanye’s song draws upon
in a way that directly butts heads with the kind of lavish and superficial rap conservatives
point to in their wholesale rejection of the genre. Where what is frequently depicted as without
consequence and sheerly ecstatic, Kanye offers us a much starker, serious glimpse into that
world. One that ends in utter despair, peppered with
contemplations of suicide, which he ultimately surrenders to. The chorus goes: “The clock’s ticking,
I just count the hours Stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power”, which morphs in
the latter act of the song into “I’m tripping off the powder.” Powder is, of course, cocaine. The parallel he’s drawing is a fitting one:
power produces an illusory and short-lived ecstasy, and an ultimately self-destructive
one at that. In a way more mature than conservatives would
expect, the artist isn’t celebrating vapid money-making or influence or drugs, but recognizing
its inherently toxic and fleeting nature. In a later verse, Kanye raps: At the end of the day, god damn it I’m killing
this shit I know damn well y’all feeling this shit
I don’t need your pussy, bitch, I’m on my own dick
I ain’t gotta power trip, who you going home with? How ‘Ye doing? I’m surviving
I was drinking earlier, now I’m driving Where the bad bitches, huh? Where you hiding? I got the power to make your life so exciting
So excit-, (suicide-, so excit-, (suicide)-” (suicide) The first couple lines might seem characteristic
of the bravado of stereotypical rap, but it transitions into something much more self-aware. The highs of fame and yes, power, are rife
with pitfalls, and Kanye manages to express its folly through the medium of rap. Kanye goes from being “on his own dick”
to merely “surviving.” He then engages in one of the most reckless
acts imaginable, drunk driving, culminating in a crash–where the word “exciting”
morphs into “suicide.” Is this not possibly at the heart of what
drives so much of the exaggerated peacocking in rap? This, of course, is just one example of how
and where rap is not just music, but incredibly meaningful music if you take the time to appreciate
and understand what its artists are saying. Which isn’t to say that they’re perfect,
and they frequently make utterly foolish blunders. The reality is that it’s incredibly meaningful
for more than purely indulgent reasons, which must also be seen. A central criticism of Shapiro’s is that,
as a classically trained musician, rap isn’t music. He makes this case on what can be generously
described as faulty grounds. In the track just cited, after all, Kanye
draws upon a wide array of musical traditions and genres. From rock to, yes, C Minor, this song serves
as a case study that rap is a legitimate form of music. The reservation of C Minor to depict a turbulent,
heroic struggle, for instance, is a classical tradition originating with Beethoven’s Symphony
#5. This tradition has been adhered to by many
classical composers ranging from Dmitri Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8. to Gustav Mahler’s
Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection.” Beyond that, his stirring mixture of rap,
rock, and 70s classics in such a harmonious fusion can hardly be described as anything
but music. The fact that the artist reworked one of his
largest hits, Stronger, 75 times with 8 different engineers and eleven different mix engineers
from around the world reflects the kind of devotion and consideration that often goes
into this kind of, yes, music. Sneering elitism of this sort only serves
to cripple conservatives’ ability to penetrate the broader culture. Defiantly blinding yourself to the virtues
and complexity of something like rap does that mission a disservice, and hopefully skeptics
may be able to take a more thoughtful look at all forms of legitimate art beyond slogans
such as “Rap is Crap.”

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. Why is this piece of crap talking about “grammatical errors” in songs? Lois Jordan literally had a fucking song called “is you is or is you ain’t my baby”. That’s how people where he was from talked. I suppose he thinks Elvis Presley’s music was bad with “ain’t nothin but a hound dog”.

  2. You’d think a “classical musician,” (the label he hides under) would be able to see the parallels between trailblazers like Kanye West and Beethoven. Poetic artists like Kendrick Lamar and Frederic Chopin. Talented provocateurs like Igor Stravinsky and MC Ride. Not equal by any means, but there are parallels. Bad take Ben.

  3. Conservative pundits: "we are the new punk rock"
    Rappers: expressing raw emotion and personal concepts through art
    Conservative pundits: "ew"

  4. I agree with Ben Shapiro on this argument that rap is pure garbage. I remembered even Charles Barkley despised this type of music as a terrible influence to black youths.

  5. Many leftists have been saying this the whole time but many of ya'll go off on the same straw-man tangent, saying leftists just shout "You're racist" when there's a disagreement. The dismissal an entire culture of thought while propping another through dispelling the "stereotypes" speaks a whole volume of irony.

  6. The guy is basing the whole genre of rap over the negative opinions he has on two or 3 things. Logically this doesn’t make any sense because rap has been around for about 40 years. Knock some sense into this douche

  7. This Shapiro dude is so ignorant. And people like that LOVE to not just not like rap—but tryto convince everyone it’s unanimously a garbage genre of not-even-music and calling everyone that even likes it a Neanderthal. That’s so…foul.

  8. Ben sharipo doesn’t understand rap he just hates it how can you hate something and not know it just like how racist didn’t know much about blacks people but then said they where not human

  9. You people are morons business intelligence of a bitch and rap isn't music all right there are very few rap artist that actually have a band playing their music most that shit this plane is all keyboard shit and secondly they're not singing none of them know how to fucking sing so quit with your emotions in your feelings in your yo yo yo Nigga

  10. There’s no culture that can understood from a distance … it’s true for observing every any earth mammal… Ben went to school and wasted a lot of money.

  11. I mean, alot of rap music is bad Just for the crazy amount of autotune some rappers use. Rpaper like 50 cent is fucking amazing, snoop doog etc. From an alt right dude

  12. There are elements of hip hop that rightfully should be criticized. But there elements of the genre that are thoughtful. But the fact that Shapiro profiled TI, who I'm not a fan of btw lets me know Shapiro is out of his element on the subject of hip hop. Would he blame school shooters for the genre of music they listen to? Shapiro ignores artists like Souls of Mischief and many others considered "conscious rappers". These think pieces that assert that hip hop is misogynistic ironically ignore the voices of female rappers like Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah. Most conservative critics of hip hop cherry pick and are all disingenuous. I wish they would just say they don't like rap. That's fair enough.

  13. Puritans believe controversial media create monsters, and free speech absolutists believe controversial media should never be attributed to the origin story of monsters. I think the truth is in between. A lot of fans mimic everything of their favorite artists, right down to the fashion; so obviously the lyrics are going shape their behavior as well. I also think any lyrics put to a meter or rhyme scheme is a form of hypnosis with a lot of mind-altering potential.

  14. i don't think rap as an instrument is music per se either but it sure has it's merits and is a form of music.
    to me it's a form of poetry veiled in music, at it's core it's word play spoken within melodic backdrop to emphasize the nuance of the words being spoken.
    it has closer connection to drums and rythm than melody, but it has also a message not so unlike singing which bases more in melody in structure.

    wether or not the usual contents of the text make sense grammatically or phonetically or has depth or has good values being told through it, it is a subjective matter in which the listener has to decide for themselves if it holds any meaning or emotional impact to them.

    if it were up to ben shapiro, jazz or scat wouldn't be considered music either.

  15. To any younger watchers, please be informed that this is a very old argument used to de-legitimize rap music. It's roots go back so far that the original argument was "rap music isn't music because black people can't make music." No, I'm neither kidding nor being facetious. Even up to the 60's and 70's something as simple as a drum beat was regarded as "black" by the racists in public discourse, and churches were even advised to avoid music with drums to minimize "the dangerous negro influence." That is literally a thing written in a manual for church pastors. If you see this argument in the wild, feel free to ignore it and the person who makes it; they're trying to dogwhistle their racism and you don't need that bullshit in your life.

  16. Not liking rap doesn't make SOMEONE racist, but with someone like HIM it's just another piece of the puzzle. Someone who rails against anyone calling out inequality and racism…and even in his "novel" he had another young black kid get shot by police, only to make the cop seem like the good guy who didn't do anything wrong. Even in his fake stories, he has racist takes.

  17. Ohh .. people finally getting off Ben Shapiro dick? …this guy is an idiot. His intelligence is dimmed by his inability to think outside the box or see things in others perspective. This guy is the personification of cognitive dissonance.

  18. The way you call it confusion is just so hilarious and uncomfortably accurate lol. I feel so fucking retarded and embarrassed to be alive a little bit with just how right you are with using the word confusion when I recall myself acting just as lost logically.

  19. His excuse for not liking rap is by just saying a bunch of bullshit and making him sound smart while in reality he just doesn't agree with the politics in it but he cant admit that.

  20. Im willin to bet he camt name any rappers beside as he would probably say. That snoopy fella and that guy who smokes 2 packs a day and dr drew and that m and m fella. Ffs shapiro is a moron and has absolutely no clue what hes talking about. He just hates rap and is talking out of his ass comparing it to opera music as if opera and classical music are the only real forms of music and rap is just criminals braggin about raping killing and stealing truth is he hasnt listened to anything other them what garbage mainstream media will allow to perpetuate ignorant stereotypes about minorities

  21. Rap simply expresses the violence of today's culture. We've had generations of Americans growing up in the guns and drugs culture. It is finally being expressed in the music of the day. Rap embraces drugs and violence, and hatred of women, all in two chords……..So I ask you, is this what you want your children listening too?

    The American male today is all hat and no cattle. All flash and no cash. The down and out male has to have something to show that he has status, he has to have something that defines him………so he plays the gangster. He's got to have a gun in his hand, and a hoe on his lap, and money in his pocket. Rap has no beauty. It is darkness played in dark rooms.

    But roll another fat one, hit the pipe, be the big dawg. Just another card board cut-out of a waste land of a failed people who loved drugs more than they loved their people.

  22. AAVE is a DIALECT of English. AAVE is just as structured as 'normal' english, just in a different way.

    What's the point of dismissing a genre based off of its grammar anyways? Who gives a shit?

  23. Rap is an issue but nobody blinks an eye when it comes to DEATH METAL… a genre that literally has DEATH in its title. Wow. But im sure if Rap was invented by Ben Shipiro's people there would be no discussion to be had.

  24. "Why is the time signature 1122738383827264728291917364536372828/4?
    Ben Shapiro listening to Dream Theatre for the first time

  25. The same defenders of Rap music who say the use of the "N" word by black rappers is "artistic" would in the same breath condemn a non-black person as a racist for inexcusably using the "N" word in any capacity. A white liberal attempting to pose an intellectual argument that a rap "song" can be legitimately compared to a classical masterpiece like Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is confusing to any logical person never mind a serious student of classical music. Rap music with it's use of the "N" word, profanity, and obscenity is mostly about street cred in the hood. In it's origin, rap music is the music of "hood rats" or what the politically correct liberals would call persons of the "lower socioeconomic" culture. It is doubtful that any uneducated low IQ black rap "artist" would cite the work of a classical composer or classical piece as an inspiration for composing rap. What's next? Trying to compare the murder of a rap artist by another rap artist to the rivalry between Mozart and Antonio Salieri? To millions of thinking people of all ethnicities and backgrounds rap is indeed "crap" – and liberalism is a mental disorder.

  26. The thing about Shapiro, Crowder, Peterson, whoever… is that you don't have to agree with everything they say to still appreciate their contributions to the culture war.

  27. My views on rap are the same as drugs. Not a fan of them myself, but if you are, go ahead. Responsibility is all I ask for from those who like it.

  28. I do realize that for people who see aave as a gigantic mistake, rap music looks to be incredibly unintelligent. But to a person that understands the grammar and tense structure of the dialect, nothing these rappers say is confusing within the phrases themselves.

  29. 0:53 i mean there's other genres he could of dislike, like dubstep. But the one he chose was made by african americans so

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