Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lyric Choices

       Recently, we discussed song lyrics and whether we are listening to the actual words and what they mean. Rappers pay special attention to the words they choose, trying to string them together in a way that works rhythmically, like poetry. But the specific words rappers choose do have an impact on listeners. 

(Watch 3:59-4:08)

“I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance/ ’Til her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens.”
       In a freestyle video that came out a couple days ago, rapper Eminem offers this verse. For those of you who haven’t heard about the Ray Rice scandal, the now former Ravens player assaulted his fiance in an elevator, knocking her unconscious. The NFL handled the situation poorly, suspending him for only 2 games. Eminem references this case, using it as a simile. 
       This is a man with three daughters, who should be especially sympathetic to this issue of domestic violence. Yet he uses this Ray Rice incident that happened for material in this freestyle rap. Here we have a musical icon, remarkably talented, yet he uses his gift to send messages to his listeners, kids and adults, that speaking about domestic violence like this is ok.

       Eminem’s lyrics have often been under scrutiny for being so controversial. He told CBS back in 2010: 'I don't have any problem with nobody,' His music is just his art form. But how much of it should he be able to get away with? It’s my opinion that he isn’t actually out to get Lana Del Rey by saying this line; I don’t think he actually does want to physically harm her. But then why does he say it? Just for a rhyme? Whether this is true or not, it’s irrefutable that he is sending a message to his listeners. And it’s not a good one.