Sunday 11 December 2016

From Ella to Snoop truly is a bum rap

Published 27/02/2012 | 06:00

TELEVISION Are twisted minds in Langley to blame for musical demise, wonders Declan Lynch

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Ireland's Rappers RTE2

Champions League RTE2

THERE is a conspiracy theory that the drugs problems in Afro-American neighbourhoods were partly caused by the CIA flooding the ghettoes with crack. Presumably they did this in order to make these communities so dysfunctional, they would be incapable of mounting an insurrection against Whitey.

While it is perfectly plausible, I don't fully believe that one. The drugs were clearly demoralising, but I believe it was rap and hip hop which ultimately did the job, destroying not just the lives of many individuals, but a mighty culture. And it had to be some malign outside agency which dreamt it all up, because rap and hip hop are simply so bad, so completely terrible in every aspect, Afro-Americans acting alone could not possibly have invented them.

These people invented jazz. They gave us the blues and gospel. They produced Louis Armstrong and Muddy Waters and Duke Ellington and Smokey Robinson and James Brown and Miles Davis. A rough estimate on racial lines of their respective contributions to the great American songbook in general, would give about 48 per cent to the blacks, 48 per cent to the Jews, and maybe 4 per cent to Whitey. And when you consider that about 3 of that 4 per cent would be Hank Williams, the numbers are pretty stark here.

Yes I'd be comfortable with that 48/48/4 breakdown, which makes it all the more unbelievable that it could all have ended up with the rappers. It is just not humanly possible to get from Ella Fitzgerald and Al Green, to Snoop Dogg, due to natural causes. It is utterly beyond comprehension that the people who brought us Holland, Dozier and Holland might eventually be giving respect to The Notorious B.I.G..

No, this had to be sabotage. This had to be the work of the most feverishly twisted minds in Langley, Virginia.

And such was the genius of its evil creators, they knew that hardly anyone would speak the truth about it. They were able to take advantage of the prevailing respectable culture to ensure the perpetuation of this horrible malaise -- essentially if you criticised the rappers, you could be accused of simply being against black people, or against poor people, out of brutish prejudice.

"Hip hop is like heroin," said one of the protagonists on Ireland's Rappers, explaining that he was now hooked on the rapping, just like the kids of the Bronx. And it will be argued that it is better for Irish kids in deprived areas to become rap artists, than to be singing 40 verses of The Men Behind the Wire with a belly full of porter. And I suppose it is, in a way -- after all, the rap was only invented by the CIA, not the IRA.

But it is still a form of tyranny.

THE other great cultural mystery of our time is the amazing failure of the peoples of continental Europe to understand rock 'n' roll. And what is even more mysterious is the fact that we still tend to look up to these Europeans as connoisseurs of the good things in life, when they have failed wretchedly to develop any taste for what was unquestionably the great art form of the 20th Century.

Germany, France, Spain and Italy between them have produced fewer decent rock 'n' roll bands than Dun Laoghaire has, and they are not ashamed of this. They are not even aware that they should be ashamed.

I have no idea why they never got it, why Eurovision is the best that they can do in the popular music stakes, but it should give anyone from these islands an innate sense of superiority whenever he is dealing with these people, which is always useful, especially when he owes them money.

There is actually just one area of consistent excellence in European culture, one that works for all people of good will in every country in the EU, that is both artistically and commercially successful and generally flourishing -- that is the Champions League.

On Tuesdays and Wednesday nights, even in a bad year with our Premier League teams out, we feel part of something greater than ourselves, all Europeans. The rest is just noise.

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