Public Enemy’s well-known Flavour Flav appeared on the Howard Stern Show this morning. I was driving back to the drudgery of my day job when I heard the replay of his interview. Hearing Flav speak reminded me to acknowledge that there was a role (albeit a minor one) rap music has played in my view of the world.
“Fear of a Black Planet” was Public Enemy’s great masterwork. It combined a tasteful use of samples with thought-provoking lyricism revealing a world that is once in a while very harsh to visible minorities.
There are very few, and I do mean few rap music records that I can stand to listen to. I find rap for the most part very self-indulgent and boring. This is much the same view I have for christian music. When I listen to music, I can occasionally stand a message if the message resonates well with my own thinking. In the case of Public Enemy, the pictures painted with their tracks are stories from the streets or fighting for the right to speak your mind. Given Flavour Flav’s delivery, there is some element of entertainment value to the music that some people may miss.
There is very little rap music I can tolerate. This may be because I like to hear more musical instruments other than the voice as the featured players in a piece of music. The people who make up metal/rap band Biohazard, and the soulful delivery of Arrested Development may be the only other people who fall under this category that I can tolerate. Biohazard are great because they combine amazing musicianship with the words they deliver. Arrested Development brought elements of great storytelling with the kind of solidarity that Sly and the Family Stone may only have dreamed of that their peak.
Sometimes the most obscure kind of music may light some inspiration even in the most cautious of skeptics.