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Yo, is Rap Just another Four Letter Word? by Rev Michael Bresciani, Oct 2005

As a boy I remember sneaking off with other boys to talk about girls and other unmentionables with my little buddies. We would curse a bit because it seemed like our right of passage. We were getting tougher and wiser like the bigger kids and it felt kind of good at the time. The language would disappear if our parents or any adult came within earshot of us. I look back on that as proof that the one thing that didn’t disappear was our conscience.

 

Flaunting any excessive or anti-social behavior is considered brazen. When it is no longer considered brazen it is proof that it has become embedded as part of our culture. Not to say this is a good thing, after all headhunting was considered a cultural norm in some societies. The question to ask here may be, was rap ever truly a part of our culture?

 

Will it eventually run out of steam and go the way of things like doing the twist, afro haircuts or break dancing? I for one would argue that it is not truly a part of the American cultural scene, but is a forced, twisted and contrived money machine that appeals to only the basest passions of the youth in our country.

Long before the “gangsta” element slid over to “hip hop” the reasoning for the whole genre and style was generally purported to be, to show what life in the “hood” was like. That worked for a while and it even drew more sympathy from the otherwise estranged.

 

But as lower passions would have it, the style and language of rap began more and more to take on a life and purpose of its own, namely…sex. If by some magic stroke sex were temporarily extricated from every rappers thoughts and vocabulary, the entire industry would collapse quicker than the stock market in 1929. Now that’s brazen!

 

Referring to rappers as artist and giving them full press doesn’t guarantee that it is really an art form, all it says is that its here. But was it here before? Does it really have anything to do with the African American background, culture or heritage? I propose that it does not. Very few whites have succeeded in rap but even that does not prove that it is necessarily a black cultural thing. Growing up as a boy there were only two black families in our town.

 

One of the boys from those families was my best friend. But to say that gave me even a basic knowledge of the African American culture would be an exaggeration. Later I arrived in the city of New Orleans just after the civil rights laws were passed.

 

My exposure to the black culture increased exponentially. Finally I attended two seminaries the last of which was part of the National Baptist Convention a purely African American denomination. What I discovered about the African American culture will always be one of the greatest excursions of my entire life.

 

Our entire class would sit before some of the most dignified black gentlemen, professors and wait for the streams of their thoughts, opinion and knowledge to flow down to us. Most exciting was when they shifted their emphasis away from the curriculum and began to divulge elements of their private lives and their past. Life in New Orleans as a black man or women was no easy thing. Stories of their upbringing and their struggles would leave anyone with their heart in their throat.

 

These old gentlemen for me were living examples of courage dignity and the best human qualities. What I learned about black culture in short is this. African Americans have a deep and ancient past; they are people with a lasting heritage.

 

I am sure that the blatant indulgence of sexual descriptive and four letter words that is rap’s most prevalent aspect, is not part of their ancient culture and history. It does not accurately depict their culture, their history or any other part of their experience.

 

I don’t think my protesting is such a big deal. But I’d guess that if my old seminary professors could see and hear today’s rap, you would hear the roar raising up from their graves and billowing down many an American avenue.

 

"For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matthew 12: 37)

 

http://www.americanprophet.org has since 2005 featured the articles of columnist Rev Michael Bresciani along with news and reviews that have earned this site the title of The Website for Insight Millions have read his timely reports and articles in online journals and print publications across the nation and the globe.

 

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