Twisting Greatness

By Niccolo Maranzano

“To be simple is to be great,” said American Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. If that were stated to today’s misguided hip-hop fans, there would be an audible laugh from the ‘elitists’ and ‘backpacker’ hip-hop heads, with their holier-than-thou mindset.

In today’s hip-hop world, a certain percentage of the fan base, will not consider listening to you unless you are in the top 2% of lyrical/technical writers. It’s like MENSA, but more pretentious. Too many people over look other aspects of the art, which are equally as important to the technical execution of the lyrics.

Oddly, but somewhat understandably, hip-hop is one of the few genres that have this problem. For instance, Nirvana is considered a great band, and a pioneer for a lot of today’s music. But in all reality, they were very far from being considered the best individually. No one attempts to claim Kurt Cobain was a guitar phenom. You will never hear people comparing Dave Grohl to Carter Beauford [of Dave Mathews Band.] However, just because they did not master the instruments, does not mean they did not create great music.

Obviously, Hip-hop is a bit different, so that comparison is not completely fair on all levels. But the point remains. You do not have to be the greatest lyricist to be a greater rapper. It seems that people forget the intent of music. Music is supposed to be enjoyable and entertaining, pleasing to ones senses. Nowhere does it state you must be the best musician to make great music. Entertaining is entertaining, and good music is good music, despite some peoples irrational claim to the contrary.

Take 2pac for example. He is arguably one of the greatest rappers of all time. However if you actually listen to his music, he is not among the greatest lyricist of all time, technically speaking. His music is not oversaturated with unnecessary multis, or constant word play and pseudo-clever punch lines. He wrote good lyrics, and put heart and meaning into them. That along with the excellent production of his tracks made for great MUSIC.

You could be a technically brilliant writer, and create un-listenable music. The fact that you can cleverly arrange words somewhat better than the next person, does not make you, or your music, great. You could be the best writer ever, if you have no heart, no soul, no experiences, and no meaning, you will fail on every level.

“The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique”

– Issac Bashevis Singer

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