With a Pulitzer Prize win for his dazzling wordplay and authentic literary voice rap/hip-hop superstar Kendrick Lamar has legitimized his chosen field of music to many non-believers, Others will insist that the art form was legitimized years ago. (Let’s see if I understand this: rap refers to the music, hip-hop is the lifestyle.)
As a straight white male raised in the Canadian West by well-meaning parents I obviously cannot relate to Mr. Lamar’s accounts of growing up poor in the challenging environments of the urban ghettoes of America but there is also something universal and humane in his art.
The anguished cry of “You Call This Music?” has echoed through the generations and, as a young boomer, I vowed that I would never use that phrase in later years and mean it.
Granted, as a lifelong (somewhat reluctant) bachelor I have never had kids cranking up rap or death metal behind closed doors but I would like to think that I stuck to my youthful vow. As the legendary broadcaster Red Robinson once said, “Our generation opened up a lot of doors and then they refused to leave the room.”
To paraphrase Bob Dylan, “The times are a-changin’ again” and to borrow another phrase from Mr. Z “Somethin’s happenin’ here but you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr. Jones!”