Rapper Black Rob (officially Rob Ross) recently came out with a debut album, "Life Story." Unfortunately, the album probably only interests those who are seriously into rap, and out of that category, it would be appropriate for those people who take lyrics just as seriously. As you know, lyrics are mostly important only to Russians.
The majority of the production of Russian rap was made based on the West. There was a time when you could often see boys in skullcaps on television, with dancers and back-up vocalists that were black. The leaders of these groups contrived their lyrics and style in such a way that the local bureaucrats would begin to envy- themes revolving around pensioners-musicologists and, if anyone can remember, komsomol workers. Of course, in general they all resembled Western bands, but the fact was that you wanted to listen to the Western bands, while these bands were only interesting "as a phenomenon"- in the sense that now Russians could say they had rap.
The difference between the copy and the original consists in the fact that the original never looks back on anything. When something original is created, the creator in many ways forgets everything that he has learned, everything that he has ever heard. Then a new style arises, a new current- until someone else comes up with a new one.
This is exactly what makes black music in the US so unique. In America, the difference between "black" and "white" music is much more noticeable than in Europe, or even in Latin America, where most of the artists, no matter what color or origin, try to come up with something entirely their own, and where everyone listens to everyone, borrowing material from each other. Unfortunately, the majority of these artists and styles have no value for large American companies (they "don't have serious commercial potential"). The result is that hardly anyone knows about these musicians beyond the borders of their countries. The only exception is the music that was discovered and made popular by people like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Sting, and Jimmy Page with Robert Plant- music that has been known for the past decade as "worldbeat."
In the US, a country that is the leader of styles in world music (whether we like it or not), the "national question" is quickly solved: as a rule, "white" artists either sing about "how it should be" (with the mass induced trends of political correctness), or "how it is according to me" (usually, this comes down to either philosophical attitudes towards a hedonistic way of life, or to the arguable belief that "life sucks, then you die." But don't confuse this with the black "life's a bitch," or as Miles Davis had it, "life-evil"). "Black" music, poetry and literature in the US is just life as it is, and just my life (attempts of some artists to take on the role of a speaker and sing "in the name of the people" have resulted as more banal than anything else). Of course, if the author is particularly talented, as, for example, Tracy Chapman, she can subtly comment from an "all-human" perspective about how she herself feels. Whether it's instrumental music, or songs, or rap, the important thing for the black artist is that it is his life, his own experience.
The black artist Black Rob took on this pseudonym because for him "black" is associated with "raw," "basic," and "honest." He sings about his own life, almost half of which (12 years out of 28) he spent in prison for robberies. About prison esthetics Rob says the following: "Many don't understand or appreciate prison. That's because when they get there, they don't learn anything. These people love prison, but I hate it." He says that he writes music in order to reconstruct his own life, to bring him out of that self-righteous outlook and the attitude that ruined his youth. "This is my work, this is my life." When his style as a rapper is mentioned, most see it as extraordinarily strong and energetic.
The album "Life Story" was released on the "Bad Boy Entertainment" label, the leader of which, Sean "Puffy" Combs, collaborated with Rob.
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