The Pocket Guide To Surviving Rap Music

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Rappers are the entertainment industry’s answer to the used car salesman. If they believe you are slightly interested in whatever they are selling, they’ll gladly talk your ear off about it.

But be warned; like the used car salesman, a healthy part of the rapper job requirement is being full of shit. Such a talent in the wrong hands can be dangerous, or even fatal, like a driving instructor with a coke habit. Even the most trustworthy rapper – like Common or Drake – has to inevitably twist the truth to ensure the purchase, otherwise they don’t get paid. If you’ve ever bought a used car and/or a rap album then you understand.

Rap music also unintentionally serves as a manual for all types of things, making the rapper an instructor of sorts. When I started rolling blunts, I practiced according to Redman’s “How To Roll A Blunt.” In the KRS-One, X-Clan, Public Enemy days, this was a positive thing. Today’s rapper, though, is more concerned with getting higher than higher learning. To an impressionable listener, this can be a recipe for disaster, because most rap songs sing praises of reckless behavior. For instance, of all the songs where Lil Wayne achieves maximum ‘tang intake, I’ve never heard him talk about wearing a condom. Wayne, much like most rappers, doesn’t get paid to spin advisory yarns of responsibility, though, similar to how the used car salesmen isn’t really there to help you find reliable transportation. They’re simply doing their job, providing a service, etc. It’s up to the customer whether or not they’ll be taken for a proverbial ride.

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When dealing with rap music, some points to note are:

They may be rich, but you aren’t. Rappers have been bragging about themselves since the beginning of Hip Hop. In fact, I’m pretty sure that “I” is the most used word in rap lyrics, especially during the 90s, because rap music had an exorbitant amount of shit to say back then. Not being honest about one’s possessions or lifestyle is standard rap game protocol. No matter how fly they seem, do not be fooled into thinking your life equates to your favorite rapper’s, whether it’s genuine or fabricated.  Entertainers get paid to lie for a living.

Remember that women are real people.
A lot of rappers make it a point to let you know how much sex they get. In most cases, they are probably telling the truth, because they are employed and famous. This affords them the luxury of treating women any way they choose because they can afford to run out and purchase another one. You, on the other hand, are not a rapper. Calling random women “bitches” and smacking them around unnecessarily may work in the rap world, but in the real world there are consequences. You may get assaulted, divorced, arrested, etc. Aside from that, rogue vagina may carry disease and unwanted babies alter lives. Why take the risk of having to deal with either if you’re not getting Youtube and Soundcloud plays for it like your favorite rapper is?

Keep in mind that drugs and alcohol are bad for you. While entire rap songs (and sometimes albums) rotate around abusing them, very rarely is cognition bent towards the end result of said abuse. Some years back, when all rappers rapped about was weed, it was permissible. Now, so many recreational drugs are just a phone call away. Listen closely enough to some of the music and you can learn how to cook crack AND develop a codeine addiction on the same song. Rappers used to rap about selling cocaine, now they rap about doing it. Don’t let the smooth taste fool you. The truth is that these things will kill you, and I speak from experience.

You’re not a criminal, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just like in the movies, crimes on record look and sound good, but in real life, are definitely all bad. I’ve seen people literally go from mellow to menacing just by listening to a specific song. Speaking of which, take Freddie Gibbs’ “Rob Me A Nigga.” While the song itself is quite entertaining, the wrong message is easier to pick up than a $100 bill on the sidewalk. Freddie makes it known that this is a last resort, but no one hears that part. (Remember, people, God is in the details.) For me to make a correlation between rap songs and crime rates would be futile, but the writing is on the screen wall.

When used as directed, rap music provides a soundtrack to life that no other genre could possibly capture. It takes a combination of cognition, wherewithal, and common sense to truly appreciate it for its artistic core values. But at the same time, for all those who scream “It’s only entertainment!” there are 2 more who yell “Keep it real!” Once a distinction is made and accepted as a rule of thumb, rap music will begin to become a safer place…

— Tony Grands

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