Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When it All Starts to Sound Like Rap - The Best of 2005

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but rap sucks. No, it's true, really, I'm not making this up. It sucks so bad that scientists were actually able to prove that it sucks with a simple geometric theorem. Something with tangents I believe.

Now you might say, "Well, it's really a matter of opinion. There are millions of people that think rap is great," and not only you, but those millions of people would be wrong, for as I stated before, it's been proven.

But you might be surprised in my reasoning for thinking rap sucks. Most would chalk it up to me being a white male economist who could not possibly appreciate the art and relate to the listeners. Truth is I own around a score of rap CD's because I actually liked, LIKED, rap. The Beastie Boys mixed it up with a little funk, even put out some good stuff into the late 90's. Old school like Run DMC and Public Enemy were good. I'll even accept Cypress Hill in his overkilled "Insane in the Membrane"...lousy stinking cops always coming to try and snatch my crops.

But alas the days of rap artists that had not only staying power, but talent, are long gone. And I am regaled everyday with samples from the latest flash in the pan artist for I have the luxury of teaching introductory economics at a local community college.

Populated with nothing but the finest 18-20 year olds the public schools have to offer, once class ends, the little kiddies put on their baseball caps, make a break for their cars, blast up their poor quality speakers on their late 80's model GM cars in some sort of counter-productive mating ritual and burn out of the parking lot with the latest rapper singing;

"F-You and F-Dat. I F'd-Your Mom and F'd-Your Cat. F-yourself, yo' head I will cap!"

and other such favorites that I'm sure Sinatra just hadn't gotten around to composing arrangements for yet.

Yet, the lewd and crass lyrics are still not the primary reason I have fallen out of love with rap. The primary reason is that the music is has become so repetitive and unoriginal that it all starts to sound the same. The same beat, the same lyrics, the same cadence and the same self-pitying kid, dressed up like a cartoon character swearing about guns or drugs or racism or poverty or hoes or whatever else he found in Jesse Jackson's old sermons. You literally can't tell one song from another. And cripes, would it kill a new age rapper to rhyme a song that doesn't owe its entire existence to the vowel "e."

"Fast rapping self-degrading expletive is what I be.
Public schools taught me 1 'n 1 makes 3.
Ghetto pimp cruisin' smoking the wee
Hittin' round's of golf on Homie's Par Three
Drank too much Vodka, now I must go pee
Can't you see
You and me
Public schools say dat makes 3."

And there I sit, whilst suffering assaults from the vibration of the bass thinking to myself, "How can a human being even be slightly entertained by this total and utterly repetitive crap?" It's so mundane, so droning, I literally cannot see a sane human being purposely listening to that stuff. It is a question I don't think I will ever be able to answer...

However, the answer might lay elsewhere. For there is a group of people who exhibit the exact same behavior. And not only do they subject themselves to what would normally be repetitive, unoriginal and mind-numbing drivel, they also start to repeat it and promote it to anybody they can. We call them "liberals."

Not that liberals like rap, but they listen to and regurgitate the same garbage, all the time, with the same amount of originality, creativity, thought and passion as these two-bit rappers. Perhaps you have heard of some of their songs?

"Tax Cuts Only Benefit the Rich."
"Republicans are Racist."
"Democrats are for the Little Guy"
"Global Warming is Real and Caused by Capitalism"
"Black Conservatives are Uncle Toms."
"The Public Schools Need More Money."
"George Bush is a Moron."
"Women are Making Less than Men."
"I Hate Wal-Mart."
"It's All About Oil."
"I Hate Corporate America"
"Outsourcing Jobs is Horrible for America."

Played over and over and over again to the point you can finish their sentences for them. And I guarantee you, over the next month you will hear a choir led by John Kerry;

"Education, Health Care and Jobs."

But my personal favorite all time hit, made extremely popular by the Baby Boomer generation, which every good liberal knows by heart is the popular tune;

"The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer."

Of all the chanted mantras of the left, this is the most defining and encompassing one (and deafening). It succinctly summarizes their ideology. It provides a rationale for the transfer of income. It victimizes a group. It's palatable to the masses and resonates well with them. It plays off of peoples' self-pity. And it is played over and over and over and over again as if it were a broken record and a team of union members were on hand to ensure it played forever.

This cliche has so permeated our society, that everybody uses it without thinking about it. College students, lacking any real education, knee-jerk-reaction it during their childish-level debates. Workers, white collar or blue, recite it every year when they get their raises. It is so well drafted and cunning that it can be said by any one, not give away their ideology, yet advance the goals of socialism. And there we sit, listening to it as if we're a 19 year old boy trying to impress the girls with a crappy car, a crappy stereo, but above all, a crappy tune.

But for such a popular tune that is sung en masse without thinking twice, don't you think maybe we should check it out to see if it's at least true???

I mean, sure the democrats, liberals, socialists and other varied sorts of leftists are going to believe what they want to believe, regardless of whether it's true or not (as evidenced by their incredible ability to search high and low- if not, create- their own data that supports what they want to believe). But as Conservatives, Libertarians, Republicans and other varied sorts of Capitalists we adhere (or at least I hope you all do) to intellectual honesty. We are not concerned about thinking, we are concerned about knowing. We are actually concerned about the truth.

Well take a look below.

And what do you know? If you go and pull the latest income distribution figures (from that incredibly biased tool of the Right Wing Conspiracy, the US Census Bureau) you'll find that the old socialist adage "The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer" is only about half right. The tune should go a little more something like;

"The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Richer Too!"

But wait! How could this possibly be? Democrats and their socialist brethren have been telling us for years that only the rich get richer. And not only do the rich get richer, they get richer at the expense of the poor by making them poorer. Surely they wouldn't be telling us only what we wanted to hear, providing us a convenient scapegoat for the lack of our own personal financial success. Surely they wouldn't lie about income distribution to sow the seeds of class warfare, divide the nation and in a "For a Fistfull of Dollars" scenario play one side against the other for their own political gain. Would they?

Sorry kiddies, looks like you've been sold a bill of goods. One need only to look at John Edwards and his own personal broken-record tune called;

"Two Americas."

Or listen to Hillary Clinton's platinum hit;

"We're Going to Take Things Away from You for the Common Good."

Or Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the choir who prompted the infamous tune;

"The Reparations Rap." (which really would have been cool to link you to the lyrics, but the song was so stupid and counterproductive to their cause, I think it's been obliterated from the Internet forever, if anyone finds a copy of it, let me know)

Now I'd like to leave it here, pour myself a scotch and pat myself on the back for dealing another blow to socialism, but alas, I can't. For you must be warned. For working 'round the clock in a never ending attempt to undermine the forces of capitalism are Academians. Sitting atop pristine campuses, adorned with reject, 1970's minimalist architecture, are professors who could never break into the real world/private sector if their lives depended on it. And knowing full well their money at least in part comes from the government, they are always eager to prove why their paymaster should get more money. Therefore, they THINK of rationales and reasons to ignore the truth and purport falsehoods such as "The Rich Get Richer, While the Poor Get Poorer." Thus you can expect the following argument;

"Well, yes, technically real incomes are going up for everybody. But relatively incomes for the poor and middle class are going down while they go up for the rich."

So let me translate this for you. What the Academian is saying is that as a percent of total income, the poor and middle class' share is going down. Never mind that real incomes for the poor have gone up by 42%, and roughly 30% for the middle class, because the rich (those evil bastards) have had their real incomes go up by about 90%. Thus the poor are getting poorer relative to the rich.

In other words, if you get a 10% raise, but your neighbor gets a 20% raise, you are poorer and should complain. Democrats and socialists would argue that not only should you complain, but you should be entitled to some of your neighbor's 20% raise.

Like I said, they will believe in whatever they want to believe.

Now with this new found knowledge, no doubt I see you fancying yourself at a party, in the midst of a heated debate, waiting impatiently for the token party liberal to blurt out "yeah man, you know, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." And then like a crouched ninja, patiently waiting in the shadows you strike with unseeable speed. And with infinitely superior knowledge (and a conveniently set up Power Point point presentation to display all these figures) you slay your rival in but a nano-second.

Soon you are surrounded by girls, fawning over you, saying "Oooo! I used to like the pansy, sensitive 90's type philosophy major, but there's something different about're so, so manly!" And that's where you say, "That's right Baby, I'm an economist."

And you'd be right to fancy yourself in this situation because it happens all the time. There isn't an economist in the world, who after handily defeating a liberal at a party, wasn't marauded by droves of women.

But before you you start collecting numbers and leave your defeated leftist friend on the ground, it might be worth kicking him while he's down there just for good measure. For liberals, like the knight in Monty Python's "Search for the Holy Grail" don't know when they're defeated and don't know when to stay down.

A further criticism of income distribution figures is that they do not account for what are called "income transfers." Things such as social security, welfare and the whole host of other income security programs out there. These income transfers, by and large, transfer money from the richer quintiles of society and transfer them to the lower quintiles. In other words, the income distribution figures overstate the absolute and relative income of the rich and understate the absolute and relative wealth of the poor. Sadly no adjustments are made to the figures to account for this, but if any criticism is to be levied against those figures, it would be in your favor.

But before I go, I want to leave you all with the lyrics to the now debunked song. Perhaps we can write a new one, that has a little bit more originality than a rap song and 100% more truth than a liberal one;

"The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer"

"The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
You exploit us you bourgeois scumbags.
Give me my money, you owe it to me
You stole it from me and my family.
You oppress us.
We abandoned God so he won't bless us
Subsidize my worthless college degree purely for my enjoyment.
Then when I can't find a job, you can pay me unemployment.
Give us the money for any reason
We'll create 20 new ones a season.
It's not my fault that my life sucks,
Break out your checkbook and give me some bucks
Yooooooooou rich bastards."


gl said...

Love the rap analogy. Is the gini coefficient not relevant here ? Both in terms of its development over the last 40 years and also its current value (i.e. it places the US at 92nd position down a list of 124 countries, with position 1 held by the country with least income inequality).

Gini coefficients for the United States at various times, according to the US Census Bureau:

1970: 0.394
1980: 0.403
1990: 0.428
2000: 0.462
2005: 0.469

You can see the list of 124 countries here:

Captain Capitalism said...

Well yes, that's why I broke it down by quintiles so you can see that nominally incomes have been going up for everybody (unfortunately the data is not that recent, I checked for an update last week and it's still 2001).

But that's the whole point, income distribution has gotten "worse" but it's irrelevant as long as everybody's income is going up.

gl said...

you have misunderstood my point (admittedly, I was not very clear !). I understand that nominal incomes have been rising for everybody, as you say, this was the point of your post. But my question is do you believe that rising income inequality (as shown by the changes in the gini coefficient) is something that should, at some stage, be seen as a bad thing ? and if there is a point that can be reached where income inequality is just too large, then where do you think that point is ? remembering that throughout history revolutions have been caused by massive differences in relative levels of wealth (e.g. revolutionary France). Now I'm not suggesting that there will be a revolution in the US anytime soon, but I'm sure you get my point. Huge levels of income inequality are very destabilising for a country.

Anonymous said...

"Subsidize my worthless college degree purely for my enjoyment."

Didn't you get your degree from a PUBLIC university (subsidized by the taxpayer of MN?)

Captain Capitalism said...

Yes, but my degree wasn't worthless.