A Hint of Hope for Hip-Hop

I love music and have a fairly broad range of musical tastes, although I guess most of this is fairly mainstream. I can’t quite cozy up to some of the stuff out at the extremes like bubblegum pop junk, really twangy old country, or Trey & Linda’s fierce “growl rock” death metal.

But one main musical genre that I mostly ignore is Hip-Hop. I've often ranted on (just ask Clems & April) most urban music (Rap, Hip-Hop, or the new generation of "R&B") for being morally bankrupt and drowning actual talent with just so much “gangsta” ghetto attitude. Jamie Foxx’s “Unpredictable,” for example, could've been great, but he trashed his credible & real vocal abilities with fistfulls of guest street thugs, er… rappers & MCs spouting pointless rhymes and injecting loads of needless profanity. It's telling that the best parts of Kanye West or Snoop Dogg songs are the guest artists — like Jamie Foxx, Usher, or Justin Timberlake — guys who have soulful singing skills, but junk up most of their own songs with distracting, meaningless, and often tasteless (c)rap.

But where most Hip-Hop or Rap artists may fail to impress me much for their own musical talent, it seems that their real skill is in finding fresh new sounds to accompany them. Kanye West's violinist (introduced by Jay-Z), Miri Ben-Ari, for example, is at the forefront of an emerging variant of Hip-Hop that's really got me excited. Miri brings highbrow classical musicianship to the street. Her sound & style doesn't sacrifice smarts just to be hip. And she's kinda hot too!

Likewise, with Nuttin' But Stringz, brothers Damien & Tourie Escobar infuse Classical, Jazz, & R&B styles into Hip-Hop music that's fresh & fun.

And dreadlocked Daniel Bernard Roumain throws down a hybrid of styles that veers more towards orchestral, but features turntable scratch riffs, thumping bass lines, & some very funky violin string plucking.

And then just the other day I discovered this video from Korean group Last4One that remixes Pachelbel's “Canon in D Major” with zithers & breakdancing.

Maybe there's hope for Hip-Hop after all…

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