Music is most easily understood as a communication. Throughout this blog I discuss how
music creates meaning through the artist’s expression. The artist will usually have a story to tell or an issue to raise or might just want to share their emotions with the listener. Like Hesmondhalgh (2013) says, music and affect are very closely related and sometimes there is a specific message and feeling that a rap and hip-hop lyricist wants to convey. Through 90’s hip-hop music, rappers are able to express their position in the world (Jenkins 2000).
All music is interpreted by everyone differently and evokes varied feelings and emotions, depending on what one might consciously or subconsciously relate the music to. Music is a form of communication that can be heard globally and transferred globally and ultimately understood globally through music evoking happiness or sadness (as the most basic forms) in its tone (Hesmondhaigh 2013).
Music has the “capacity to enrich our lives via the feelings and emotions it engenders” according to Hesmondhalgh (2013 p.2) however, as he explains, this enrichment is also restricted to a point when it is broadened out into society. For example, when looking further into 90’s hip-hop and rap in New York, the artists are fighting to explore their musical talent by either attempting to create new rhythmic flows or forming rap groups to be more diverse . The reason this creates more fortification is because it creates a new meaning for music in New York at the time. New emotions and questions arose around this time in relation to gender and race and therefore it wasn’t just the music creating feeling through the sound, it was also the statements the songs were making in the context of the time.
Here is an example of a 90’s rap song by New York’s Cam’Ron called D-Rugs (1998) that is specifically using tones to create a sad mood because of the topic its expressing.
It’s very interesting to consider how much music affects one’s emotions and to look deeper into why some people enjoy some genres over others. Hip-hop music was prominent in the 90’s in New York because of “canonization” or “violent speech” with lyrics that are maybe too explicit for some, but are purposefully sending this aggressive message to create a point and express the artists thoughts (Strawn 2013 p. 403). It could also be to help people empathise with the artist’s anger towards a certain topic or subject.
Strawn (2013) emphasises his point comparing 90’s gangsta rap with pslams. He explains that both can be interpreted differently depending on one’s perspective or emotions that are felt. However, pslams are not so “violent” when comparing to gangsta rap. As explained, gangsta rap has the musical affect to initially create an angry, stubborn message, “imitating”, “representing”, “arousing” and “expressing” emotion within the listener (Hesmondhalgh 2013).
An example of anger being expressed through sound, music and lyrics is this song from 1991 by Public Enemy called 1 Million Bottlebags which emphasises their disgust with alcohol abuse in the black community and the anger that comes with knowing nobody wants to make a change to this issue.