By Brian Grant
The book, Beats Rhymes & Life, is mostly filled with topics and writers talk about their opinions on the topic and interviews with well known artist that have been in the rap game for a while. Most of these topics could explain why hip-hop is the way it is today. For example, in the book they have topics such as “The Ice” and “Ridin’ Dirty”. “The Ice” is about how rappers wear a lot of jewelry to show off their wealth and just to get attention from you. Mostly it’s the chains. Gold, silver, diamond, you name it; anything that can shine brightly around their wrist or around their neck, they got it. “Ridin’ Dirty” is about the cars that these rappers drive-once again to show off wealth and to be the alpha-male because they say what you drive is what you are. So these rappers tend to dress up their cars as if they were dolls and put large shiny rims to go along with the loud paint. And to put the cherry on top, a loud vibrating sound system in the car; preferably it’s in the trunk.
In the interviews with these famous rappers they all seem to say the same thing without saying it. They all agree that if you’re Black in the hip-hop industry and you’re doing your thing, making music, then that’s good; do you? But that’s all they’re seen as. Mos Def was at a play in a theater filled with mostly whites and he said, “Chris Rock walks in, right. The same m************ that was looking at me like ‘What the f*** is he doing here?’ was like, ‘Oh, its Chris Rock!’ And Chris Rock is just as Black as me.” The whites seem to show more favor towards Chris Rock because they make him laugh, he’s a comedian that’s his job. But just because a Black man is recognized more for his comedic talent, it puts us back where we started.
Kenji Jasper and Ytasha Womack were the editors and its was forwarded by Michael Eric Dyson. I think what they were trying to accomplish was to show how hip-hop evolved into what it is now and how we continue to feed it, makes it immortal. Even though, we love hip-hop, there are some things that we hate about it as well, just like the subtitle of the book says. Its not described as one thing because everyone is entitled to what they love and hate about it.
The theme of the book is obviously about hip-hop but to go deep its what made hip-hop because we all know that hip-hop culture has been in the mainstream for years. Just like the title says Beats Rhymes & Life is what still makes and made hip-hop. People listen to beats and they’re attracted to the sound of the beats, then they go crazy when the lyrics come on. To some rappers their lyrics are their real lives and real problems they’re going through on paper. Other rappers rap would use lyrics from desire and fantasies about the rich and famous life they want over their beats.
In my opinion, this book described the main points about hip-hop very detailed and clear. I wish the writers would have spoken more about the early times of poetry and how that reflected on hip-hop. I like how the editors included all the main factors in hip-hop, that still exist today in their notes, because we have to realize what we listen to and how its formed. I wished the writers would’ve talked more about the media because our minds are built to react on what we see, so if we are exposed to too much then we begin to absorb it and think that’s what we want. Most of us are introduced to it at an early age-watching too much television and reenacting it. It’s ran by the media and everyone has access to the media, and if you don’t, don’t worry because it will swing by your way. The question is will you fall into the minds of the media, too?