A convo about rap and poetry.

You may find this conversation interesting. The difference, as far as I can see it, between rap and poetry.

MeHere: Okay, then. Some rappers, I’d say a great many of them, are poets. I fail to see a difference between a rap and a poem other than the way it is presented. Now I’ve seen or heard bad raps but poems can be bad too. It’s subjective, really. To one person, either work of art may be just scribble on a page. To another, that same scribble is felt and has flow and substance.

Steve: She speaks the truth.

Skrappybiskit (me): Actually, there are concrete things about a poem that makes it a *good* poem, at least as the poem relates to form. However, there’s always that mysterious something that you can’t put in a textbook that makes one poem better than another, or a slightly badly written poem seem better than a stiff well written one.

In that sense, there is and there isn’t subjectivism in art. From a technical standpoint, some are good, some are bad. From a personal standpoint, some touch, some don’t. The best art (and not a lot of modern art, imho) combines both of those things.

Which leads me to believe that most rap isn’t art. It’s skillful (sometimes) and relevant (at its best) and can be technically well-performed and well-written in relation to its genre but in the end falls short of true technical merit. Like much of pop culture.

Steve: But I could rap the above poem to a good beat and then you have a good rap. Are you telling me that’s not poetry?

Me: Of course you could. But the presentation does change the art form, correct? If you film a painting, does that make the film art? Not necessarily. The poem, in its written form, is a poem. Spoken over a beat, it’s rap. That changes it, at least in my view.

Besides, the question of whether or not someone *could* rap this poem is academic: almost no hip hop performers rap actual poetry. They perform a mutated type of poetry that is well-suited to being spoken over a beat, something normal poetry rarely is.

Again, I’m not saying that good rap is easy. I know it takes skill (I’ve written and performed a bit myself). But skill isn’t the sole determiner of whether something is good or “high” art.