Ten rappers and the artistic movements they exemplify
Stylistically, rap has exploded, and the pieces fall everywhere from the mind-bogglingly complex to the unbelievably simple, from the brazenly dissident to the unapologetically mainstream. Rappers' influences seem to come from everywhere, but the stylistic differences between an Aesop Rock and a 2 Chainz are so stark, they got us thinking: Of ten of the most important artistic movements in history, which rapper best exemplifies the movement's qualities? Continue on to see what our completely scientific examination revealed.
Abstract Expressionism: Aesop Rock
In general, closely reading lyrics often helps pierce the mentation of the songwriter. In Aesop Rock's case, close reading is more likely to confuse than anything, and that's okay. Like pieces of abstract expressionism, where it is useless to try to understand individual brushstrokes that the artist likely doesn't fully understand himself, Aesop sacrifices the dignity of individual words by pulling together masses of seemingly unrelated allusions and references for the sake of the entire song. Although a song like "Daylight" doesn't make sense when read like an essay, it has a powerful overarching tone that pulls the disparate parts together.
Constructivism: Brand Nubian
Constructivism is the idea that art ought to inspire positive social change, and Brand Nubian did just that, trying to empower African-Americans through the teachings of the Nation of the Gods and Earths. Tracks like "Wake Up" preached "the solution: Knowledge of self to better ourself 'cause I know, myself, that we can live much better than this." With De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Brand Nubian helped create an alternative to the gangsta rap that characterized most of the '90s.
Dadaism: RiFF RaFF
As controversial a rapper as RiFF RaFF is now, Dada was even more so in the early twentieth century, when practitioners were viewed as the enfant terribles of the art world. Dadaists were distrustful and unsatisfied with reason and logic. As such, their artistic methods included whatever practices had been considered inartistic previously, such as assembling random words or pulling images out of context to form a nonsensical collage, similar to what RiFF RaFF does in his rapping. Unlike Dadaists, RiFF RaFF is not acting in protest of conventional rap, though his work is being received in much the same way. RiFF is probably not conscious of his Dadaist tendencies, and he thus avoids the great Dada downfall, something for which the Dadaists would certainly love him.