Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Reductio Ad Absurdum

Nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame came out yesterday. As if you didn't expect it, this causes certain observational tendencies to come out, and I feel compelled to comment. While there were certainly many nominees that I heartily agreed with, there was one that I vehemently disagree with, for the simple reason that it isn't rock and roll. Not that not being a rocker is necessarily a disqualification from being part of the rock hagiography, people like Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash and Louis Jordan certainly are appropriate inductees. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five is the nominee in question. Why does this nomination bother me? Because if one was to borrow a theological metaphor, hip-hop is to rock as replacement theology is to ecumenism. Someone will undoubtedly cite Run-DMC and Aerosmith's collabortion, much less the Beastie Boys and all sorts of vile combinations like Linkin Park as justification that rock and hip-hop are connected. Spiritual brethren, perhaps, but not connected; divergent might be the right term.

Someone on Voxtalks made an acerbic observation that it Grandmaster Flash is to be inducted into the rock hall of fame (I refuse to capitalize the organization as a proper noun because yet again The Ventures have been rudely neglected in the nominations) the odds of a reciprocating nomination for Paul Revere and The Raiders in the hip-hop hagiographic halls were somewhat low. True enough, as kids who listen to hip-hop would likely make a face at best at Mark Lindsay and Company, but there will undoubtedly come punditry that will say, "but hip-hop's got the rebellious rock attitude, therefore it belongs". I think there's a bit of difference between Eddie Cochran and some clod rhythmically shouting into a microphone at SPLs that distort the capsule about hos and the improper use of Tek-9s. Once in the subway, I noticed a poster of Wyclef Jean, plugging his latest appearance (with a small print notice that Lauryn Hill, apparently the star of the show, would definitely not be appearing), and the photo of Mr. Jean reminded me nothing else of Bob Dylan, ca. 1966. "Ahh, there's rock attitude" I though in a moment of political correctness, thereupon suddenly realizing that Mr. Jean was likely partaking of Mr. Dylan's favorite pause that refreshes and thus had the same vacant "I don't care" look as an obvious consequence.

I well remember the early days of hip-hop and rap, as it quickly became very pervasive and shut out any music we considered palatable from clubs. One memorable evening around 1979 , a friend mentioned how while on jury duty, a fellow juror had deemed rap/hip-hop "universal", and everything we were listening to irrelevant. We then dissected a rap record currently en vogue, drawing horselaughs from the forum at such profundities in the quote unquote lyrics as "I said damn!", rhythmically spoken like an elementary school presentation. I asked my friend if the young lady who had made her pronouncement on the universality of rap listened to anything along the lines of Jerry Butler or Otis Redding, and my friend's headshaking indicated that she obviously didn't.


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