Sunday, July 06, 2008

Darius Kazemi on Rap

Darius Kazemi wrote me this question in an email:

Maybe you could answer this question on your blog. I'd like to know what it is about Geto Boys' "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" that makes it one of your favorite songs of all time. Is it the association with the movie Office Space? The surprisingly deep lyrics? Just the fact that it's got a killer groove? And what do you think of the last verse? Too silly or just right? (I actually liked, but didn't love, the song until I heard the last verse--that's what pushed it over the edge for me.)

I wrote this back to him, but wish I was more articulate about music:

I am not 100% sure why I like that song so much. I think it is the killer grove and the fact that, while a lot of rock music is people whining about not having girlfriends, Damn it Feels Good -- like a lot of rap -- is just a laid back song about confident people having awesome lives, and just generally being gangstas. That makes me really happy.

Any other thoughts on this?

Darius Kazemi is quite articulate about the rap music, as you can see in this excellent post: CLICK HERE.


scott91777 said...

"while a lot of rock music is people whining about not having girlfriends"

What you have described here is Emo... it does not represent all rock :) But, yeah, there probably are a disproportionate number of rock songs covering that topic when compared to rap.

You did touch on something though, this kind of laid back celebration in Rap goes back to its origins. It was party music and the MCs job was to keep everyone dancing, therefore, the music was more celebratory. (No one wanted an MC to lament the loss of his girlfriend when they came to dance... but, now that I think about it, how funny would that be to watch? Like the scene in the Wedding SInger after Sandler has been dumped and is singing "Holiday" ... somebody... get on this...)

As for the confidence, a big part of Rap has always been the boasting... MCs would (and still do) rap about how awesome they are... engage in rap battles with other MCs (many early rap acts were formed this way and it still exist in the form of 'the feud' although, lamentably, the latter tends to be more about bitterness than friendly competition as was the original intention).

I would say this was, more often than not, the norm until social concsiousness became more preavalent (what would you guys consider the earliest example of this in rap? "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five?)

As for me, I like the song because of its use in Office Space... because it is used as the soundtrack for guys who so totally aren't gangstas :) (at least not at that point in the film)

Darius Kazemi said...

Yes, "The Message" is considered by hip hop scholars to be the first socially conscious hip hop song.