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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Rap Conventions - A definitive list - Joe Jones

After compiling extensive research into the rap genre, and watching numerous videos from various rap and hip hop artists, we began to spot a pattern emerging amongst all the videos we watched. From this, we were able to identify a set of codes and conventions which appeared in the majority of the videos we watched:

- objectification of women: this is something we saw regularly in the rap and hip hop videos, which videos often depicting women in a very sexual and provocative way, often wearing very little if anything at all. This is shown clearly in 50 Cents video ' Candy Shop' which in short, is using innuendo to suggest the rapper is visiting a Brothel. The females in this video are shown to be incredibly sexual beings, shown in their facial expressions and general manner. In the screen shot below, we see this woman is dressed in a very provocative costume, also carrying a whip, again playing on this idea of sexual desire.

- Location: We found that is often varied between two extremes. Either the setting for the rap video was the Ghetto, which many rappers choose as this is an environment they grew up in, or it was quite the opposite, a grand mansion with a massive party stocked with champagne. In this first example, we see the Ghetto often depicted in rap videos. This shot is taken from Tupac's posthumous release 'Ghetto Gospel', about Tupac's experience in East Harlem in Manhattan.

Use of Vehicle - This is something that started out in the very early days of hip hop and has continued in its usage through to the modern day. In the first image, we see a shot from Ice Cube's 'It Was a Good Day'. He is seen driving a 'low rider', a popular vehicle at the time in the Ghetto's, and would often be kitted out with hydraulics and fancy paint jobs.

However in the modern day, it is usually a 'pimped out 4x4' that we see in rap videos. With tinted windows and a bass system. This seen in R Kelly's video 'Ignition' showing the party bus that is his 4x4...

However, we see that the 4x4 is often the vehicle of choice even in the Ghetto. Referring again to Tupac's Ghetto Gospel, the vehicle of choice for the gang when carrying out their killing mission is a 4x4, again with the tinted windows.

Guns and Violence - This is again another common convention in rap videos. Rap music started in the Ghetto's, and guns and violence were an integral part of Ghetto life. We see in the early rap and hip hop videos, the hint towards this lifestyle, and this carries through again to the modern day. In the song 'Straight Outta Compton' by influential group N.W.A, we see this shot of a gun, accompanied by the lyric 'with an AK47 as ma tool'. This alludes to the war of attrition between the police and the streets, and the graphic violence involved.

But we see that this theme has continued throughout the late 80's and 90's all the way through to the modern day. For example, in Eminem's video 'Toy Soldiers', which deals with the theme of gang violence again, we see the 4x4 used, and we see the gun shots fly through a man in slow motion, to emphasise this graphic violence.

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