The Voice: How Important is a Rapper's Voice?


The Voice – How important is a rapper’s voice?

You ever hear Aries Spears impersonations of DMX , Jay Z, LL Cool J, and Snoop Dog?

In Hip Hop today it seems every rapper feels his opinion is what makes him worth listening to rather than the sound of his voice or even his music. A common phrase used by pushy rappers to get listeners to open their ears is “this is something you need to hear”. Why do you need to hear it? Because it’s positive and you support positivity, because it’s political and you’re tired of rappers bragging about their wealth. Musicality is often overlooked but what’s going to keep a listener when they disagree with your politics?

With so many people thinking they can just roll out of bed and become rap stars and with it being viewed as more of a pathway to fame and fortune than a creative outlet, few are willing to accept the idea of there being an IT. “Either you have IT or you don’t” they used to say, but now days this classifies you as a hater and someone that needs to be dis-proven. What it’s resulted in is a flood of artistic creations that have collectively lowered the value of our art.

There used to be a lot of fuss about whether the female rappers Foxy Brown and Lil Kim wrote their own lyrics. The truth of the matter is that they didn’t have to, their voices made them who they were. Rappers are frowned upon for not writing their own lyrics in large part as a result of a lack of recognition of pure vocal talent. How many people care if Marvin Gaye wrote his own songs or not? All we cared about was how he sounded when the songs were sung. As rappers we’re singing songs but we don’t often recognize ourselves as singers.

I remember I gave a CD to an Indian worker in Grey’s Papia a few years ago. When I returned to the store he had told all his co-workers that I do music. I got into a mini dispute with one of his colleagues who kept calling me a singer. I’d say “I’m not a singer, I’m a rapper” and he’d say “but on record your singing” and I’d say “no I’m rapping” and we kept going back and forth until he said “you make song right?” I said “yeah” he said “so you’re a singer. You sing your song.” And it that made sense to me.


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