In truth, we’ve been studying rap for a while – maybe longer – and it seems more difficult to figure out when to stop. Like any field that involves the public, it’s all about trial and error. We’re discovering and discovering more and more about what we hear and what people hear as we do our research. In other words, it’s a process. And one thing we have always said is that rap’s an art form which will last forever.
What were some of the most interesting discoveries you made while looking into what makes a good rap record?
The discovery that a beat can be as interesting and as influential as the lyrical composition. While I was researching the topic I found that there’s a lot of people who actually study beats and lyrics and they’re very open and transparent about it.
They’re not telling you “Look at the words, look at the melody, look at the arrangement – you can’t tell.” They’re not telling you what is or isn’t good or bad, just as long as you know about the music, you can learn to listen to the beats and the lyrics and they have an impact on a listener.
Then you have other people who really want to know, “Is the sample good, what does that sample do to me?” “Okay, how was that sample composed. What does that instrumentation do to this song?” And so it’s really up to the listener to decide their own personal taste in music and how far they listen to any given sample.
You’ve also been learning about hip hop technology. Is hip hop more technology friendly now than it was in the early days of recording?
Yes, absolutely. I don’t think our culture had an attitude and a perspective that was as open and open to the development of technology as it is now and technology has become more than just a means of recording. It’s the only part of the music that is made in a studio – in fact it’s the only part.
We use computers, we use synths, we use samplers, MIDI, we use digital audio files and all these modern technologies today to make music. It’s not just about the instrument or the melody or the way the music’s presented to the listener. It’s about everything else…the technology, the sound quality, the production, whatever it might be, but it’s the only part of the music that’s made in a studio right now. It’s the only thing that we record
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