Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made; Our times are in his hand Who saith, "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: This familiar poem is one that often heralds the beginnings of new marriages and carries with it the connotations of undying passion, lasting love, and opportunity.
A cypher is a group performance where rappers take turns performing improvised verses.
Freestyling is to rap what jam sessions are to jazz: I chose the cypher as the subject of ethnographic study because it crystallizes so much of what I love about rap generally. Freestyle rap in particular is an underappreciated art.
I have heard a demoralizingly large number of musicians and educators opine that rap is not music at all. While I do not believe that rap needs academic validation, it is important to me that my fellow educators understand and appreciate the beauty of this music, so if they will not embrace it, they might at least do less to impede it.
Few rap haters will admit to being Afrocentric vs eurocentric worldviews by racial or class animus. Along with electronic dance music, rap in its instrumental aspect is the most repetitive popular form in American history, and schooled musicians are socialized to be contemptuous of repetition McClary Improvisation likewise has a low status in academic settings, because spontaneous musical expression supposedly has less significance than composed works Nettl3.
However, closer engagement with improvised rap quickly reveals its depth. Only by evaluating the music by its own value system can we recognize its beauty.
The former view resembles social science or Marxist theory, while the latter is more like literary description of individual experience. I will argue that rap is ordered and limited by strict musical conventions, but that these conventions are optimized to promote elaborative and liberating expression.
In the cypher discussed below, the emcees make their personalities and identities felt immediately and strongly.
In so doing, they deploy impressive musical and verbal skill with seeming effortlessness. A note about terminology: Strictly speaking, rap and hip-hop are not the same thing.
Rap is a style of music, while hip-hop is a culture or aesthetic, one component of which is rap music. There can be hip-hop music without rapping, for example, in turntablism or the instrumental albums of DJ Shadow.
Conversely, many genres of music predating hip-hop have used rap, including blues, jazz, soul, country, and rock. Nevertheless, when referring to contemporary mainstream music, rap and hip-hop are effectively coextensive.
My musical life has taken place within the Afrodiasporic traditions that gave rise to hip-hop: I have produced a little hip-hop, too, and done a very small amount of rapping. I grew up in New York City, and do not remember a time when I was not at least passively hearing rap around me.
However, I am very much an outsider in hip-hop settings, due to a combination of my race, class, age, and sensibilities. This is true in a literal sense—they happen in my workplace, sometimes in my shared office.
I am less at home in the metaphorical sense. I am knowledgeable enough about rap to be able to have a conversation about it, and enthusiastic enough as a fan to be able to cross social divides. The participants are friendly toward me, and the regulars greet me warmly with handshakes, fist bumps, and hugs.
But I am self-conscious about being a novice and a tourist, about being wack and corny. This is no false modesty on my part:Readings explore Black Studies disciplinary orientation (explore the contested terminology – African American Studies, African Studies, Africana Studies, Pan-African Studies, Afro-American Studies, Africology, Black Studies- but agree that discipline is a legitimate, institutionalized and worthwhile inquiry of scholarship and education.
Airhihenbuwa et al.
() found that the emphasis of non-Hispanic whites on individualism and the strong fear of death as a health motivation reflected fundamental cultural differences between Afrocentric and Eurocentric worldviews.
Culture plays a . Afrocentric intellectual work theorized a reductionist African identity to contest the hegemony of Eurocentric reductionism of African history as non-existent and inconsequential (Asante, Kemet, Afrocentricity, and Knowledge , ).
Asante did not seek to undermine the Eurocentrism of reductionist methodologies that sought to present. The Eurocentric worldview, in contrast, is much more individualistic and materialistic.
Haitian children, coming from the Afrocentric culture of Haiti where they fit in without any effort, must now navigate a bewildering new world on both a physical and a cultural level. While African Americans have been forced to repress or adapt these Afrocentric worldviews in the face of different institutional arrangements of White domination, the continuation of an Afrocentric worldview has been fundamental to African Americans' resistance to racial oppression (Wieder, ).
Afrocentric models, Native American Models, and Eastern European models (just to name a few) begin with knowledge of earth, tribe, and culture before immediately turning the mirror on one’s.