Categories
2023

Weeks 11–13: Rap

Rap has become inescapable in pop music culture, as evidenced by (among other things) Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. winning the Pulitzer Prize. Music theorists have developed several specialized tools for discussing this genre, which diverges from other pop music in many ways. Readings: Kajikawa (2015), Tatar (2019), Wallmark (2022), Manabe (2019), Ohriner 2019.

Rap has become inescapable in pop music culture, as evidenced by (among other things) Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. winning the Pulitzer Prize. Music theorists have developed several specialized tools for discussing this genre, which diverges from other pop music in many ways.

April 6

Readings due Thursday before class

  • (MeHaley discussion leading)

Special guest! Dr. Loren Kajikawa will join us to discuss his book chapter.

Here is the recording that Kajikawa analyzes in the chapter:

https://youtu.be/nTHCZCNm9v8

Writing due Sunday at noon

Following Manabe’s examples, make a metric/lyric chart of some part of Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe,” which will be the focus of one of the readings next week. I have uploaded an .mp3 as well as Excel sheet to use as a template in Teams.

  • Download the template and create a new file (don’t fill out the file directly within Teams).
  • Listen closely, select a section of the song that you’d like to transcribe, and fill out the chart like Manabe does.
  • Once you’re done, export as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.
  • Feel free to also add some sentences that explain any difficulty you had if you like.

Manabe explains her chart as follows:

My modification of Krims’s (2000) method places each 4-beat measure in a row, with each box representing a quarter note containing four sixteenth-note pulses. An “x” marks a spoken pulse, and a “-” marks a silent or held pulse. Verbal accents are capitalized, while rhymes are italicized. The yellow shading represents an A♭ chord, while tan represents the onset of a Gm9 chord (with light tan a repeated onset) and green, the final Cm7/D-bass chord.


April 13

Readings due Thursday before class

  • , chapter 3 (Scott discussion leading)

Special guest! Dr. Olivia Lucas will join us to discuss her book chapter.

Writing due Sunday at noon

Make another metric/lyric chart like last week’s, but this time using “Real People” by Common, which will be an example in Tatar’s presentation next week. I have uploaded an .mp3 as well as Excel sheet to use as a template in Teams.

Again, you can choose what portion of the song you analyze and transcribe. I think the first verse is hardest, the second is easiest (except a bit in the middle), and the third (short) verse is somewhere in between. The whole song is more difficult than last week’s song, because this rapper’s flow isn’t as strictly in the beat—you will have to normalize/quantize things in your head a bit to write it down.

  • I have copied the template file to your homework submit folder for you to edit. The file is called 12 Real People.xlsx.
  • Listen closely, select a section of the song that you’d like to transcribe, and fill out the chart like Manabe does.
  • Once you’re done, export as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.
  • Feel free to also add some sentences that explain any difficulty you had if you like.

April 20

Part of this class will also be dedicated to going over the final project.

Reading due Thursday before class

These readings were chosen by our special guest instructor, Jeremy Tatar, a Ph.D. candidate at McGill University specializing in rap.

He also requested that you listen to the following tracks.

  • “Kick in the Door” by the Notorious B.I.G. (Produced by DJ Premier)
  • “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  • “Real People” by Common (Produced by Kanye West)
  • “Sweet Children” by Caesar Frazier
  • “Lil’ Freak” by Usher
  • “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder

I’ve compiled these into a playlist:

Writing due Sunday at noon

  1. Complete the project worksheet for your final project. (This due date was moved up one week.) I have added a copy of the worksheet to your homework submit folder. The filename is 13 final project worksheet.docx. Fill out this docx and then export as a PDF in your homework submit folder.
  2. Schedule a time to do an individual meeting to discuss your project with me.

Bibliography

Readings are either in the Readings folder or are available online through the library (or both!).

Kajikawa, Loren. 2015. “‘Rapper’s Delight’: From Genre-Less to New Genre.” In Sounding Race in Rap Songs, 19–48. Oakland, California: University of California Press. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/heb.33187.
Lucas, Olivia R. 2022. “Form, Genre, and Vocal Performance in Nicki Minaj’s ‘Stupid Hoe’ (2011).” In Analyzing Recorded Music, edited by William Moylan, Lori Burns, and Mike Alleyne, 370–85. London: Focal Press.
Manabe, Noriko. 2019. “We Gon’ Be Alright? The Ambiguities of Kendrick Lamar’s Protest Anthem.” Music Theory Online 25 (1). http://mtosmt.org/issues/mto.19.25.1/mto.19.25.1.manabe.html.
Ohriner, Mitchell. 2019. “From Rhythm to Accent, from Sound to Rhyme.” In Flow: The Rhythmic Voice in Rap Music, 47–70. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Schloss, Joseph G. 2004. “Elements of Style: Aesthetics of Hip Hop Composition.” In Making Beats: The Art of Sample-Based Hip-Hop, 101–23. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan.
Sewell, Amanda. 2014. “Paul’s Boutique and Fear of a Black Planet: Digital Sampling and Musical Style in Hip Hop.” Journal of the Society for American Music 8 (01): 28–48. https://doi.org/10.1017/S175219631300059X.