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Rap Music vs. Country Music

Updated on April 12, 2012

Music can have a powerful effect on the lives of those who listen, whether it is Country or Rap music. Just as people draw inspiration from music, music also draws inspiration from various sources. It is difficult to get to the root of creative works, but every work of art, including music, has a beginning. One’s opinion of what is creative, inspiration, and influential will vary from person to person, which is why music is divided into genres. One characteristic of developing different musical genres, such as Country and Rap, is that it is created to accommodate individual preference. There are three key aspects of Country and Rap music that contribute to the diversity of both genres.

The roots of Country music go back further than most think. The first artist who was recognized as playing what is now called Country music was Jimmie Rodgers. His music was a combination of Blues, Jazz, and Hillbilly Folk. Jimmie played with a band named The Carter Family in Bristol, Tennessee. They are music was very original and caught the attention of Ralph Peer, a representative of Victor Records. Jimmie Rodgers was signed to a record deal in 1927. He later died in 1933 at the age of 35. In 1961 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, which demonstrated his significant influence on the Country music genre. Jimmie Rodgers is often referred to as the “Father of Country Music.” Although the genre of Country music has evolved immensely, the beginning still proves to play an important role in today’s rendition of its history.

There have been three notable milestones in Country music history that have influenced its evolution. Johnny Cash, a Country music artist known for his outlaw image, often wrote songs about crime, murder, and jail. In 1968, he took his image a step further by recording a live album called “At Folsom Prison.” He developed a set list of songs about murder and imprisonment and performed them live at Folsom Prison to entertain convicts. He used the seriousness of these topics and made jokes about them. His performance was described as a breakthrough. He tied together his humor and spirituality in one performance and made a record out of it solidifying his title as a legend in Country music.

Willie Nelson is another Country singer who has an outlaw persona, but he surprised Country music fans with his album “Stardust” in 1978. It was a collection of his favorite childhood songs with his twist incorporated in each song. He could take classic songs and remake them into new classics. It is always a brave risk to remake a song originally performed other artists, especially a song like “Georgia on My Mind,” which was made famous by Ray Charles. “Stardust” sold over four million copies and is still considered one of the best Country albums of all time.

Although Rap music does not date back as far as Country music, it still has deep roots and maintained a significant influence in music history. Rap music became mainstream in the 1970s and was made popular by artists such as, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Their style was appealing to people who liked to party and dance, which caught the attention of DJs. Rappers, also known as MCs, go hand in hand with DJs. MCs would typically be the host of a club or party, which involved entertaining guests and introducing the DJ. This partnership launched a combination we now know as Rap music.

Rap music becoming mainstream was a milestone in itself, but that did not earn Rap’s spot on the billboard charts. In 1979 a Rap group by the name of Sugar Hill Gang released a song called “Rapper’s Delight,” which became the first Rap song to hit the top 40. It also became the first Rap song to sell more than one million copies. Although the Sugar Hill Gang never had another hit like “Rapper’s Delight,” it marked a memorable highlight in Rap music history.

In 1986 Rap music accomplished something that would change the world of music. Run DMC, a Rap group from New York, released an album called “Raising Hell.” It became the first Rap album to win a Grammy award for best album of the year. The Grammy win resulted in implementing Rap’s own category in the Grammy awards, which did not previously exist. The win was impressive because it was over all top albums and not just the Rap genre. All of today’s Rap artists have Run DMC to thank for paving the way and giving them the platform to succeed on a national level. Rap music is one of today’s most popular musical genres.

The relationship between music and American culture can be a vague and arguable point of view. Country music is deeply influenced by American culture. The country western lifestyle existed before Country music and is the main source of inspiration for Country artists. The cowboy hats, boots, and big trucks are all specific aspects of American culture used by Country artists to portray an image that is appealing to its demographic. Writing songs that relate to a culture will connect an artist with people who live it every day.

Country music and American culture influencing each other can also open the door to clichés and stereotypes. One stereotype is that everyone who attends rodeos is a Country music fan. It is an obvious assumption, but in today’s culture, the diversity of music can appeal to all types of people and attract fans from all lifestyles. A ranch owner who wears a cowboy hat with wrangler jeans and boots may appear to be a Country music fan. He may also just be a ranch owner who does not listen to Country music at all, living the lifestyle depicted by Country music artists. Although these stereotypes are often true, they are not always true.

Rap music has a different influence on American culture and is viewed by some as a negative influence. Many rappers write songs about gang violence and struggling in areas of poverty. In some cases this is a way for the artist to vent or use music as an outlet to express their own emotions and experiences. In other cases, it is used as a marketing tool to target those in the same situation to attract record sales. Rap has also been known to be a method of preaching and educating youth. Music is a powerful tool and those who use it in a positive way can have positive influence on those who listen.

A common stereotype in Rap music is that it is full of gang related and violent messages, which is false. Gang Rap is only one of many types that exist today. Christian Rap is very popular among churches in today’s culture. It is an effective way to reach the youth while spreading the same message the preacher delivers to his congregation on Sundays. Political Rap is a large aspect of its genre. Rap is a true form of expression and politics is often one’s strong belief that will be expressed. Whether Rap music is positive or negative, it is apparent to be the music of choice among youth in today’s culture.

The diversity between Country and Rap music is extensive. The history of each genre has evolved in different ways. Both have very different cultures and appeal to different audiences. They are also alike in many ways. Both have milestones and highlights in their history that shaped what they are today. Each genre has a unique influence on American culture. Although Country and Rap are different musical genres, they have many similarities they make them alike.


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