Words by Tony Grands
We talk a lot about how we want rappers to keep it real but, whoa. Not so fast, rapper. I don’t think we really want that.
What does that term even mean anymore? Exhibit A: people were mad at Rick Ross for not keeping it real, but I wasn’t and here’s why. If Rick Ross had kept it real, he would have been spitting bars about being behind bars for the betterment of his family. No thanks. He would have been making anti-love song about his baby mama, and possibly even discussing self esteem issues stemming from his
pre-gastric bypass previous weight problem. Pardon my french, but ain’t nobody got time for that.
The term “keep it real” can be traced back as far as the mid-1980s, when political rappers vehemetly urged anybody that would listen to find a worthy cause and stick to it. Keeping it real back then meant, “Stay Black!” for the most part, but it also applied to other areas of life as well. If somebody told you to keep it real, that also meant don’t sell out. It meant stay true to yourself. And whatever that meant, was up to you. Nowadays, there is no true definition of the phrase.
Here’s the thing: a lot of people listen to rap music as a means to escape the real world that they live in. The last thing they want to listen to is somebody making songs about the exact same shit they are dealing with right now as they listen to this song. That type of telegraphed emotional terrorism may work for Mary J. Blige and her baglady fan base, but rap music is a different animal. That’s what you call “keeping it way too real.” Again, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Rap music shouldn’t serve any more purpose than a book or movie or comic strip. The action & adventure provided is purely fantasy, and shouldn’t be taken as any type of direction for your lifestyle. If you want to die quickly, though, put on your favorite rapper’s album and follow the instructions step by step. It’s likely a recipe for destruction with extra fixin’s. You’ll soon find yourself at the bottom of a bottomless rabbit hole quicker than you can shake a snatched gold chain. Sad thing, though, is that rap music does serve as a guardian or father figure to many young people. The influence is cosmic, and you can see it happening with the drugs. It’s no different than the fashion. Once everybody starts talking about it because someone else is doing it, everybody starts doing it. The psychotic cycle of reckless young life; the trend continues.
The average dude is not trappin’, the average dude is not hangin’ out in the bando, and contrary to how attainable this type of royal existence is illustrated on wax, the average dude ain’t driving around in a $75,000 car without a job. A decent one, at that. In reality, the average dude listens to rap music while he’s on the way to work or in his car on his lunch break. He wants to hear some bass slaps, he wants to hear some shit-talking, he wants to hear some flossing. What he DOESN’T want to hear are songs about marital problems and such, and he damn sure doesn’t want to hear a rapper complaining about all the bills that they have. At that point it stops being a song, and becomes a couple of buddies hanging out with each other shaking their fists at the sky together, because misery loves company. Especially over a funky beat.
Rap music is fantasy. The most outrageous cosplay convention ever, so to speak. Like Halloween on fleek, yearound. It creates an illusion, an escape route from the real world roads we’re forced to travel on. In this reality, we’re not really in control of those roads. We might make decisions but those decisions have consequences and those consequences are real. However, in the augmented dimension of rap music, I can sell dope, I can shoot people, I can drive cars that cost more than I’ll make in my life without having an income, and it’s all good. But that’s not the case. Songs end. Life goes on. And I believe that’s where things get fuzzy…
TV & the Internet & fast food education have fooled us into thinking that life has theme music and special effects, when in actuality, no dice, bruh. Life is boring, like a text book, whereas we keep on waiting for the movie to start. But there is no movie. There was no stuntman that can magically take your place when shit gets real. (See what I did there?) There is no bonus material, chapter rewind, or pause function. There is just life, and it’s whatever you make it to be, be it more or less, and in most cases, it’s less, not more. That is the reason we love rap music. Even when it’s ignorant and self-destructive and downright ridiculous, we cling to it, because it takes us away from the menial lives that we’ve constructed under social duress, even if only for scant pockets of stolen time.
So dear rapper, while we may scream and holler that we want you to keep it real, we really don’t. I don’t care what problems you and your wife have, just like I’m sure you don’t care about how much these diapers just ran ya boy’s pockets. All I ask is that you keep feeding me fantastic bullshit and in return, I’ll continue to totally ignore the fact that you’re lying to me. This is how all great relationships survive the tests of time.
Words by Tony Grands
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