Realer Than Thou

Many people who have a distaste for what they call “rap” are unaware that there are examples which do not take for granted that the person the rapper is addressing with his/her lyrics is an opponent. To these peoples’ credit, I think it’s safe to say the complaint that “rap is so angry” often has merit.

“Why are there so many angry young rappers?”

There indeed exists within the world of battle-rapping (where rappers compete to demonstrate their appeal and ability over one another) a tradition of violent language directed at another rapper.

Rapper Mac Lethal battle raps at Scribble Jam

Perhaps more to the complainers’ point, though, the violence and aggression is often directed someplace more in keeping with the personality the rapper portrays (at a “bitch”, at a rival dealer, etc.). They hasten to point out that the examples of this we admire often reflect a very sick and upsetting reality.

Perhaps no rapper better embodies this celebration of the sewer better than 50 Cent. Readers familiar with his track, “You Ain’t No Gangsta” will remember the verse that proclaims,

…you spit it cause you seen it
I spit it cause I did it and I mean it

While this kind of attack on another’s authenticity is found in countless examples throughout rap’s history, you may find it amusing to know that 50 cent himself is one of the few rappers ever to draw attention with his lyrics to the fact that rap of the type he creates is ultimately a form of theater:

These cats always escape reality when they rhyme
That’s why they write about bricks and only dealt wit dimes


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