Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rap on

“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get."

And with those words launched perhaps one of the most lovable goofy characters to hit the big screen in a long time – Forrest Gump. For years the cinema has entertained, provoked and at times frightened all of us. My last blog detailed my own fascination with the legend of Bigfoot and the introduction of this believe-it-or-not creature to me when I was ten years old and saw “The Legend of Boggy Creek.” Perhaps you remember your first dinner and a movie date with that special someone; while the “someone” may not still be a part of your life, they never leave your memory.

Movies and music affect all of us in different ways and, as someone who has spent the last thirteen years of her life on our beautiful campus, I recently had the opportunity to both listen to and read some rap music. I have a bit of a hearing impediment, actually a 90% loss in high frequency, so lyrics have always escaped me as I find myself straining to understand what is being sung, or in this case, rapped.

Last week, during a visit to one of the local nail salons where I was having my bi-weekly pedicure-pamper session, the television was tuned to rap videos when someone hit the closed caption button and the words began to stream across the screen like a manic Dow-Jones Report at the closing of a big day on Wall Street. I started reading while enjoying the beat. I don’t remember the name of the first artist but the song was called “Silly.” As that song faded into another, then another, I found myself enraged, entrenched, romanced and then with a blinding headache that even the warm waters swirling around my toes would not erase. While some lyrics were profoundly disgusting and profane, others were a love story set to a drum beat with nary a profane remark in the entire story: losing the girl, finding the girl and holding the girl through eternity.

While this form of music is not one of my personal choosing, just like most everything else that mankind creates, there is a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly and truly one has to subject oneself to a sampling to be able to separate them. I worry about the children and the young adults who hold those entertainers in high esteem who glorify murder, degradation of women and disrespect for authority through their abuse of a God-given talent. And while this musical form (and yes it is a culturally induced form of music, just like Sinatra was a cultural icon in the fifties, Elvis and the Beatles in the sixties and on and on) is not one that is necessarily of my preference, it does illustrate something about America that makes us great – freedom of expression. And while I don’t think that the framers of the Constitution or the United States military are presently defending our countries right to “rap on,” they did and still do protect our freedom of choice and the freedom of individual expression, which includes the freedom to rap about distasteful subject matter.

So if anybody out there knows someone with a head for writing rap music lyrics, how about a good and decent rap anthem to salute both the United States and our military - you know the ones that are protecting your right to…rap. Any takers?

--Oreta Samples is the lead veterinary technician in the Veterinary Science Department at Fort Valley State University

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