Sunday, April 23, 2006

Recently I witnessed what I believe to be a sure sign of the end of the world. No, I did not watch several men sketch up elaborate plans to set fire to the IHOP headquarters, which would cause International Havoc On Piranhas. No, I did not see a group of masked fiends hold-up a day care center, in search of a baby possessing some sort of a golden ticket. And no, I did not stand by as a sniper rifle-wielding assassin attempted to take down Mayor McCheese, the current Commander-in-Chief of McDonaldland.

What I did see was something far more subtle, something on a much smaller scale. A girl, older than ten, yet younger than thirty-five, was sitting in a school desk. Like many others her age, and many douche bags riding public transportation older, she had two white threads running into her ears—the horribly crappy headphones that are packaged with the iPod, which give off the sound quality of a fart passed through a paper cup-and-string telephone. She was listening to music, as one would assume, and smiling eagerly while nodding her head to whatever was being pumped into her brain. As I usually do, I assumed what she was listening to was garbage and minded my own business. Soon, she turned around to the fellow who was seated behind her and offered something along the lines of, “I know every word to this song.”

To me, knowing the words to a song isn’t much to celebrate. I have heard music since my ears were developed, I assume, and have never considered it a special talent to use those ears. Apparently in this day and age, being able to understand the lyrics to a song deserves not only a trophy, but a song, dance, piƱata, parade of marching elephants, monkeys, and zebras, a band consisting of at least six trumpet players, and a magician to entertain the younger children. But back to the story, the gentleman seated behind the listening lass responded to her proud statement with one of pride: “As do I,” he said.

Now I was slightly more interested. Just what were these young-uns listening to that was so popular that not one, but two, people know the lyrics? I was careful to be sneaky, and used my eyes to find out. I peered in their direction and set my sights on the dim screen of the magical music box from which this song was coming from. I couldn’t make out the name of the song, but all I needed was the name of the artist to be shocked into disbelief, and for visions of atomic bombs and ape-people taking over to dance into my head.

“T.I.” it read. Now, I’m not one to judge, but these two folks were of upper-class Caucasian descent. As far as I know, T.I. is not. After doing some exhaustive research, consisting of reading half the lyrics to one of his songs, I have come to the conclusion that T.I. primarily raps about a rough life in the ghetto, guns, gangs, drugs, and about seventy various slang words that I couldn’t decode, not even with the help of context clues. Judging by where they attend school, the two teens who were listening to this T.I. reside somewhere near myself, which would be in an upper-class suburb of Atlanta. Mr. T.I. sounds like he has had some hard times. I think the last challenge I had to face in my upper-class community was wiping the dirt off of my golf clubs.

But then I began to think more about what they were listening to, beyond the lyrics. Just what do these rap songs contain that make them so irresistible to my fellow schoolmates? I have heard my fair share of rap in my time, mainly as something to laugh at and say, “How ridiculous,” then after twenty or so more seconds, “now turn that garbage off. It's disturbing my horse-back ride.” Usually it is nothing more than a few noises thrown together with some sort of a chant running through it. In fact, I think there is some sort of a magic mixture of liquids that are needed to craft a popular rap song.

My research tells me that these things are:

Lyrics:

1. Rapped in a deep, scratchy voice.
2. 4th grade caliber rhymes.
3. Chanted in a way that makes everybody, or “errybody”, want to jump around like animals.
4. Derogatory terms for women.
5. Horribly filthy words that wouldn’t be appropriate in the bathroom of a Kentucky Fried Chicken.
6. Featuring a mundane random object, such as an article of clothing, and upwards of two minutes of song about it.

Music:

1. The beat must consist of three, and only three, sounds which could be made by a toddler tripping and hitting his head against a piano. These three sounds are to be repeated throughout the song.
2. A drum noise that sounds like someone made it with their mouth, to be repeated throughout the song in symphony with the beat.
3. As many random cheers and hollers as possible are to be thrown into the song wherever possible.
4. Noises such as car alarms, grunts, animal calls, and gunshots are to be tossed into the cacophony as the group wishes, to create that “At home” feeling.

But wait a second. If a rap song is so simple, why don’t I create one, you ask? But I can’t, I’m a ripe young white boy, fresh out of the oven. Oh, you want me to make one, do you? Well, I suppose…


(If the video above doesn't work, click here.)


Wow. I’m sorry. I honestly, truly apologize. I have wasted an hour of my time writing and producing that, and two minutes of your time while you listening to it. I’m ashamed of myself. Perhaps a little embarrassed. I suppose that shows you how a rap song can be made. And it certainly showed me how I’m willing to spend a Saturday night.



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