Getting a bad rap

Ed
Ed Smith
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I don’t like rap. I know it’s a popular musical genre and that top performers in that field make huge bucks. One of them, Drake, just bought a house in Beverly Hills for a reported $7.7 million.

I wouldn’t get that for my house here in Springdale, unless I did some extensive renovating. I doubt that there’s a house out here anywhere in the town limits that would draw that kind of money. So there must be something to this rap business.

I do love hockey. Loved it all my life. Superman Sidney Crosby is reported to be offered $100 million for a 12-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s almost $10 million per year and he gets practically all this in the first few years.

Don’t know how much rappers get per year when they can afford $7.7-million digs, but it must be considerable. If the Flyers are lucky they’ll get the benefit of the best player in the world playing for them for a half-dozen seasons or more and the owners would then earn mega-millions on their investment.

Isn’t it fun to see other people being paid what they’re worth? Leaves me colder than a handful of caplin soaking in North Atlantic brine. Some say it’s because I’m too old to appreciate rap music. Some say my sense of music is hopelessly outdated. Some say it’s the lifestyles associated with rappers.

Some are absolutely right. Everything about the rap scene leaves me colder than a hooker in her working clothes on a New Gower Street corner in January, any year. Anyone who wouldn’t support a union for these poor souls, and their poorer clients who can’t afford wives, should be tied behind a cow’s tail and manured to death. That was my mother’s favourite wish for anyone she didn’t exactly like. Hell sounds better.

Of course, there’s Christian rap. Don’t like that, either. Perhaps if I were to hear a top-notch rapper doing something without the gangster stuff, the violence and they street language, I might be persuaded otherwise. If the content were about saving children or spreading love or promoting the supremacy of the Newfoundland character to all other cultures on the face of the Earth, it might be different.

I feel about rap much the same as I feel about the “Ultimate Fighter” series. There’s something awfully wrong with that “sport.” The people who participate look like hoods. I have a friend who is an internationally known competitor in full-contact karate, among other things. He’s competed successfully in such places as Japan.

When I asked him what he thought about the “Ultimate Fighter” series on television, he almost snorted.

“That’s not a sport!”

We didn’t get a chance to talk about it very much so I didn’t find out what his objections were. I’m not sure I know fully why I object to it so much. Seems to me there’s something terribly wrong with a fighter punching another man’s face while he’s down and totally helpless. I cringe when I see elbows thrown at full force into another man’s mouth. Knees into other man’s jewels isn’t pretty, either.

I know, I know. It’s a level playing field for everyone. The rules are there and apply to each fighter. But when I was growing up I learned from my father, from the other boys and even from other men in the community, that there was such a thing as fighting fair. If a man didn’t fight fair, he had no honour and no one respected him. Head-butting, biting and unrestricted use of the elbows were all considered to be unfair, as well as hitting a man when he was down.

Last night I watched a documentary on two Irish families who had been feuding for it seemed like generations. But instead of guns they used their fists to settle differences that no one seem to remember anymore. It was highly formal in that once in a while someone in one family would challenge someone in the other family.

The time of the fight would be announced and advertised and the boys would go at it bare-fisted, sometimes for up to four hours at a time, no quarter asked, and none given. Except for one thing — the fight had to be “fair” according to the criteria listed above.

Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano (my favourite — he retired undefeated) and Muhammad Ali never stooped to such tactics and they were among the greatest greatest fighters in the world.

OK, so Gordie Howe was a great man with his elbows. But he didn’t hit his man when he was down.

I should say none of these rules applied to girls. They could use whenever dirty tactics they wanted, which is why it was so dangerous to get into a fight with one. After dark, it was different. After dark you could employ your own dirty tactics and the whole thing could be a whole lot of fun. Understand I do not speak from experience.

I admit that one of the problems I have with rap music is that it isn’t, and to be fair, I have never heard anyone refer to it as such. Whatever rap is, it isn’t music. And whenever music is, it isn’t rap.

Rap is a series of words strung together in a rat-a-tat-tat type-beat that has its own carefully constructed rhythm and meter in which there is no pausing and from which there is no departing.

Let me say as simply as I can what rap means to me.

If the notes in rap music were grains of sand, and I were a genie in a bottle, I would have the Sahara, the Gobi and the Great Australian Deserts transported to the next galaxy.

That’s as musically profound as I get.

 

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.

His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Pittsburgh Penguins, Flyers, New Gower Street corner

Geographic location: Beverly Hills, Springdale, Newfoundland Sahara Springdale.His

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