Hip-hop is dead. If hip-hop is dead. It's dead like Latin, or its dead like Túpac (Makaveli). In fact maybe if hip-hop was still alive it wouldn't be as valuable as it is. Maybe hip-hop was meant to die in order to have the impact it has on society and in order for it to be the resource that it is. When someone or something dies, people in our society celebrate and make it a point to remember that person or thing. It's much easier to forget your relative living down the street than it is to forget your relative that died a long time ago.
I would rather believe hip-hop were dead and in a better place than believe that it were alive and well getting raped over and over again by Hollywood executives and popular culture. So for the sake of the sanity of individuals who live hip-hop and for the sake of hip-hop itself, the people have to believe that it lies peacefully in its eternal resting-place. Amen.
Like Latin, there are a few people that still live and practice in hip-hop. Hip-hop is a culture that started in the hood. Which hood hip-hop was started in is not relevant to the purpose of this writing however it is an important topic to discuss in another context. The hood is a universal concept however the subcultures of each hood establish priorities that change from hood to hood. Those subcultures are partially responsible for the variation in Rap styles. However there are some basic values that remain throughout each hood; respect, individuality, community uplift and representation "rep yo hood", responsibility, knowledge, and wisdom.
Although priorities may shift, the quintessential values remain the same. The fact that hip-hop was conceived in the hood is what is important here. Like blues being conceived on an unspecified plantation hip-hop was conceived in an unspecified hood. And like blues hip-hop was taken from its mother (the hood) and strategically placed in an unhealthy foster care situation. The smart people/the Man took hip-hop out of the hood gave it a Hollywood makeover and gave it back to the hood. It was like taking a really good apple from a big barrel of apples covering it in poisons saturating it with impurities and putting it back into the barrel to contaminate the rest of the apples. What the Man didn't foresee was the fact that the apples at the bottom of the barrel were able to avoid contamination and they represent the pure apple, the healthy apple: The real apple.
Real Rap can only be found within the real hip-hop. Then again there are those who see hip-hop as just another one of those things in Black culture that comes and goes in order for something new to come. André 3000 talks about this in a prose monologue in Hollywood Divorce: Hollywood divorce; all the fresh styles always start off as a good little hood thing. Look at blues, rock, jazz, rap, not even just talking about music, everything else too. By the time it reach Hollywood it's over. But its cool - we just keep it going making new shit. (André 3000) Rap is a rhetorical art form that depends on its rhythm as well as its language for its impact. Traditional poetry is a literary art form that like poetry depends on its rhythm as well as its language for its impact.
The fact that Rap is a rhetorical art form is one of the biggest things that will set it apart from traditional poetry. Since it's meant to be heard and not read, the tools for measure and analysis, while they apply to the poetry in Rap, they do not apply to the Rap itself. In order for Rap to truly be considered a valuable art form the measure has to exist for the art form itself and not just an aspect of the art form. We have to be able to put the tone with the lyrics and the pace and rhythm of the work in order to construct an effective measure of quality. At the same time we have to bring in the context of the work because if the work doesn't have the same values as hip-hop then it should be considered less valuable in its purpose.
When Rap is taken out of context—when it is pulled away from the value systems of hip-hop it becomes less saturated. So, there is a positive correlation between the saturation and the value of a Rap because as it is less saturated it is less effective in fulfilling the original purpose of Rap, which lies in the value systems of hip-hop. With that correlation we find one scale of measure for the analysis of Rap itself. In the analysis of Rap you first analyze the poetry of the Rap, the literary significance, as you understand it as an individual because Rap is very much about the way the listener interprets the work. If you are unable to comprehend the story or the purpose of the Rap then either you are not a member of the intended audience; you don't know enough about the culture of the artist, or the artist lack skill in the arts of articulation, and/or comprehensive speech construction.
The critic has to be able to recognize his/her limitations as well as his/her knowledge and expertise. That understanding of self is an essential in hip-hop thusly it is an essential in the analysis of Rap. In the measure of Rap we have to take into account also the fact that traditional poetry is usually uniform while Rap is usually multi-form. In neo-classic poetry for example it is common to find iambic pentameters throughout a piece. Where as, in Rap it is common to find that the form changes from iambic meter to trochaic meter for example, sometimes in mid-line. And while iambic is more like a natural speaking pace trochaic is more forward pressing. So not only does the rhythm change but so does the feeling, the time, and the focus of the poem.
Artists like Twista notoriously use their ability to play with the pace of words like in "Holding Down the Game" he begins with a natural pace, then he speeds up the pace then suddenly breaking into the super slow screwed and chopped style of Rap. Twista speeds up&slows the pace of the Rap to show his control over words and time. And although the lyrics for this Rap would still be in the appendix you probably would not be able to tell where the transitions occurred if it were not for the words of the other individual telling Twista to slow down and speed up. In classic poetry the prosody can be discovered in the words so you can write one word that has a naturally iambic foot then another that has a naturally spondaic foot. In Rap, it's not as simple because the words have an oratorical purpose. So the poet has the luxury of using words written with a naturally iambic foot and making them sound spondaic so that they can move from iambic to spondaic meter. The truth lies in the hearing of the verse.
This is evidence of the fact that Rap is a rhetorical art form. In writing, you put your name on the paper if you want people to know who it is that you are, and where you are coming from with your ideas. But, when your work is meant to be heard you have to tell people who you are establish ethos and use pathos logos and or mythos to articulate your thesis and conclusion. This is why you hear Rap artists talk about whom they are where they come from, and the things that they have done or gone through, it's all an attempt to establish an ethos that is clear enough to make your audience care about what you have to say. The rhetorical evaluation of Rap is difficult however because traditional rhetoric is a majority biased institution. The values of traditional rhetoric are derived from value system that are analogous to the value systems present in the academic setting, but not necessarily however, analogous to the value systems of the hood.
Because of the fact that different cultures have different colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions, as well as differing ideals as far as which dialect or language is socially superior etc. Those who will judge Rap have to be careful not to fall into the trap of wanting Rap to cater to the desires, or the values of the majority or the imperial nation. However that precaution should not make people want to disregard the possibility of Rap having value in academia those who judge and critique simply have to be mindful of the artist, the work, and themselves in the contexts of value and limitation.
In order for Rap to be viewed as valuable in the academic sphere, (which is necessary for the development of the communities of marginalized nations) a technical scale or measure is needed for Rap. The literary scansion of the poetry in Rap is insufficient; Rap has to be evaluated technically in its totality in order for it to be valued by academia. If there is only literary scansion for the poetry in the Rap then that's only giving value to poetry within the Rap. Poetry already has value in academia; Poetry has its own scales. Rap as a craft needs to be taken and evaluated literarily, rhetorically, and sociologically. While the literary and sociological evaluations already exist in the context of poetry, and in the poetry of Rap the only aspect left to be developed is the rhetorical measure, and the way in which to combine all of these aspects so that they come together harmoniously and establish an effect measure for the quality of Rap. Without the establishment of this measure hip-hop won't just be dead it will become extinct. The extinction of hip-hop would be detrimental to the hood as it serves as a valuable resource to the hood and the people who dwell within. Rap serves as a resource for knowledge, respect, individuality, community uplift and representation, responsibility, knowledge, and wisdom. Without effective resources like hip-hop in existence to maintain those values in the hood the future of the people is in the hands of the imperial nation. The nation that marginalizes those people and uses Rap as a tool for profit in order for the imperial nation to gain power - as that is the goal of all imperial nations - to gain power and control.