decoded-jay-z and dream hampton

yea, i’m still thinking about this one. finally.

“Everything that hip-hop touches is transformed by the encounter, especially things like language and brands, which leave themselves open to constant redefinition. With languages, rappers have raided the dictionary and written new entries to every definition-words with one or two meanings now have twelve. The same thing happens with brands-Cristal meant one thing, but hip-hop gave its definition some new entries. The same goes for other brands: Timberland and Courvoisier, Versace and Maybach. We gave those brands a narrative, which is one of the reasons anyone buys anything: to own not just a product, but to become part of a story.” (84)

“Hip-hop has always been controversial, and for good reason. When you watch a children’s show and they’ve got a muppet rapping about the alphabet, it’s cool, but it’s not really hip-hop. The music is meant to be provocative-which doesn’t mean it’s necessarily obnoxious, but it is (mostly) confrontational, and more than that, it’s dense with multiple meanings. Great rap should have all kinds of unresolved layers that you don’t necessarily figure out the first time you listen to it. Instead it plants dissonance in your head. You can enjoy a song that knocks in the club or has witty punch lines the first time you hear it. But great rap retains mystery. It leaves shit rattling around your head that won’t make sense until the fifth or sixth time through. It challenges you.

Which is the other reason hip-hop is controversial: People don’t bother trying to get it. The problem isn’t in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don’t even know how to listen to the music.” (54)


One thought on “decoded-jay-z and dream hampton

  1. art imitates life:

    “My father would take us to Linday’s and we’d get these big-ass steak fries. We would sit in the restaurant looking out the window onto the streets, and play games that exercised our observational skills. Like my pops would make us guess a woman’s dress size. There was nothing he missed about a person. He was really good about taking in all the nonverbal clues people give you to their character, how to listen to the matrix of a conversation, to what a person doesn’t say.” (202)

    “There’s no dream in fast food. Manager? That’s a promotion, not a dream. It took me a long time to realize how much courage it took to work at McDonald’s, to walk through the streets past rows of hustlers wearing that orange uniform. But at the time, it seemed like an act of surrender to a world that hated us. I never even considered it a possibility.” (75)

    “The first verses of the song, when so much of the action happens, are all written as internal thoughts. The words we’re rapping are unspoken. It’s a conversation that’s happening in the two characters’ heads. But that’s real life. The person that betrays you won’t yell out his plans to turn on you-but he might think them so loud you can practically hear it.” (41)

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