Phrases like fo’ shizzle, flossy and holla back can be heard from the lips of countless MSU students on any given day. Heads bobbing, bodies swaying, they shout out phrases like “Shorty shorty shorty what your name is” and “trying to catch me ridin’ dirty” over loud hypnotic beats. These days rap music can be found everywhere; from the headphones of strangers on CATA, as the anthem at frat parties; just walking down Grand River one can hear it blaring from the stereos of cars. Even ex-boybander Justin Timberlake has incorporated the hip-hop style into his tunes. [mic1]
“Justin (Timberlake) made a smart move by putting rap into his music,” elementary education junior Emily Guith said. “It made his music more popular. It’s not necessary the words that make it good, but the beat because it pumps you up. Rap music just makes you want dance.”
Love it or hate it, rap music has become the most popular party music for our generation. Walk into any type of party and you’ll see people busting a move to “Crank That” as if it was the hand jive. And it hasn’t stopped there. Hip-hop flavor has transcended just music, stepping into clothing styles, car selections and slang.
Flossy and Bossy
“Every single person out there has a little bit of hip-hop in them,” advertising senior Nick Emerson said. “In their own way everyone is trying to be flossy and bossy and all that with their clothing and the style and the way they act. Hip-hop has changed the music scene. In the old days rockers used to show up in limos; now artists show up in tricked out hummers with rims and hip-hop flair. Rap music has single-handedly infiltrated every aspect of society.”
And if anyone would know about the impact of rap it would be Emerson. As a 24-year-old he owns his own recording company, Mobaffiliated, and has been performing and writing his own rap music for the last five years. Calling himself “Nick Bean” and “Tha Franchise,” he has recorded 22 songs, both alone and collaborating with other rappers. He has performed all over East Lansing at local bars, parties, and open mic. His love for rap began early. “I started learning how to rap because my two friends in high school were really into it when I was about 15,” Emerson said. “They would always hang out and rap. It was their whole life, and so eventually it became mine.”
And indeed it has. According to Emerson, even when he is sitting in class he has rap on his mind. “When my mind wanders in class I think of ideas for raps. It can be anything – nights out with the guys, things you see everyday,” Emerson said.
[record]He writes all of his own raps and, along with Tyler Chapman and Mhyar Sadri from the Mobaffliated Label, he is releasing a 17-song mixed tape that he hopes will come out in October. Emerson said he is also working on his first solo album, “The Untold Story of a Story Already Told,” which is scheduled to be released November 5. “On the mixed tape we used beats from other artists that are already out there and added our own thing to it, but my solo CD is 100 percent original – everything from the beats to the lyrics.” Unlike the mixtape which they plan to distribute for free, Emerson hopes to sell his solo album around campus. “I am amazed at how quickly my music is getting known,” he said. “I will get to a party and people will know me and my music and want me to perform. It’s awesome.”
Taking advantage of the MySpace craze these days, Emerson dedicated a page to his music, allowing fans to listen and download his songs. According to Emerson so far he has gotten 17,000 plays on his site. He also works with a publication company that buys his songs and then uses the music for whatever purpose they desire. As for the future, Emerson doesn’t long to become the next Eminem. “I just want to sell more stuff and do more shows,” Emerson said. “I am not trying to be some big time rapper. I just want to sell bars of my stuff to other artists so they can add it into the hooks of their songs. Artists make like $50,000 for 16 seconds of music that way.”
Stereotypically, most rappers look for fame and money, but Emerson said he sticks with rap because of the challenge. “Lyrically it is the most difficult thing you can do,” Emerson said. “The way you can come up with like 30 different words for one meaning is genius. And to make it sound good on top of that is extremely difficult. It’s so complex – that is why I love it.”
Stop and Listen
For others it is not the complexity of rap that appeals to them, but disappointment in the current rap scene that got them involved. “What really got me into rap was the lack of quality music out there,” pre-law sophomore and rapper Jack Edukere said. “There was just so much trash on the radio. And people were like ‘Are you going to cry about it, or are you going to do something about it?’ And so I did something about it, I started rapping myself.”
Though Edukere said he has been drawn to rap music since he was a kid, he didn’t really start writing his own rap songs until he was about 15. Since then he has written numerous songs and performed through out campus, including performances in the Brody Complex and Mac’s Bar. He has also performed in his hometown of Flint, and although he has not yet had the opportunity to record an album, he hopes to do so soon.
Like Emerson he, too, writes all his own songs. “I get my ideas from a lot of different places,” Edukere said. “Nature, life, the sky, people’s everyday interactions; being inspired by many different things allows me to have many different types of songs.” Along with rap music, Edukere also has interest in other types of music. He has recently started writing in other styles besides rap where he uses a singing voice with a melody and hopes to be able to incorporate his new style. “I have found that my dream has reached beyond rap. I find that I have a talent to sing as well, so I want to do both and maybe create a whole new type of song.” Creating new types of music is Edukere’s main future goal as well. He wants to change the minds of those who don’t consider rap music “real music.” [mic2]
“People need to take the time to listen to many artists and not just the popular ones you hear on the radio,” he said. “My goal is to make each of my songs better than the one before so I can appeal to people who don’t even normally listen to rap. I want them to stop and listen when they hear me.”
Poetry and Rhythm
Business junior Mhyar Sadri also hopes to share his rapping talents with the world. “The number one dream is to actually make it,” said Sadri. “The more ears you have listening to your music the more an impact it will have.” Sadri is already making an impact around town. Just this September he had the opportunity to open for rap mogul Chamillionaire at the Rock N’ Nightclub in Lansing. “I was kind of nervous,” Sadri said. “But it was very exciting.”
Though he has listened to rap since he was a child, Sadri began writing his own raps roughly seven years ago because his best friend made beats and wanted someone to accompany them. Since then, he has recorded 15-20 songs with other rappers and will also be featured on Emmerson’s mixed tape “Tha Franchise Presents, Mobaffiliated.” So far, he hasn’t done a solo album but it is something he hopes to pursue in the future. Sadri said that when he writes rap songs it’s about much more than just trying to entertain. “There are many forms of expression. I just get into this zone when I write. It’s like poetry and rhythm put together. I always liked to write so it’s just something that came naturally. It’s an amazing way to express yourself.”
Though he has accomplished many things with his music, Sadri’s biggest accomplishment isn’t an album he has recorded or even performing before Chamillionaire. Instead, he looks at his accomplishments in music on a more personal level. “My biggest accomplishment has just been getting to a level where I am more comfortable with myself as a rapper,” Sadri said. “Before it was just rap to me, but now, now it has become part of my soul.”
From the bubble gum style of Will Smith to the controversial lyrics of Eminem, to the stylings of MSU’s up and coming musicians, rap music has become the soul of youth culture. Whether heard at a party or backyard barbeques, it’s hard to escape the clever lyrics and pulsating beats. “If you look at the evolution of rap it’s just become more and more popular over time. More and more people are starting to listen to it,” Sadri said. As for those who don’t see the musicality in rap, Sadri thinks people need to take a closer look. “If you just take time to really listen to what people are saying in rap songs you’ll understand.” [mic3]
Regardless of whether everyone will grow to understand and love rap someday, with new slang phrases like “so crispy” and “poppin’ my collar” coming from the mouths of rap artists, it will at least keep everyone’s vocabulary on the cutting edge.