I was reading an interview on Aquarium Drunkard with John Cale, a founding member of the band Velvet Underground, and he brought up how he is more interested in hip-hop music now then rock and roll. I don’t think it is anything personal against rock, but he seems to like the production of hip-hop more, saying they are focusing more on the sound of the music as opposed to the structure. They don’t necessarily have a a clear chorus, verses or bridge, but that, in the mind of Cale, puts a new and intriguing aspect to music, not just hip-hop.
This topic is something that hits close with me because a lot of people I talk to that are not fans of hip-hop tell me they think they are “copying” other music by sampling in their production or lyrics. I do not look at it as that, as I feel as though they are adding to the music by giving it their own unique sound and twist. If people looked past that, maybe they would understand what Cale is saying about how the layout of the music is incredible in its own right.
Kendrick Lamar, who is one of the most influential modern musicians, mentions in his Black Friday Remix of J. Cole’s “Tale of Two Citiez” “Nothing more influential than rap music/I merge jazz fusion with the trap music/I mix black soul with some rock and roll.” These lyrics talk about how the music brings influence as opposed to ripping off people. It brings together a lot of sounds people like to create a new one. This is what makes it very exciting to listen to new hip-hop, in my opinion, because I never know what is going to happen next and one of my favorite artists could introduce me to something I otherwise never would have heard without his sample.
I’m glad that I came across Cale’s comments because it is nice to see how powerful the influence of music is. He talks about how he does not always understand what these guys are saying or where they are coming from, but the sound is what impresses him and keeps him coming back. The innovative actions that these artists should not be overlooked, and it is not as much as it used to be. It will be cool to see what Lamar, J. Cole and other artists continue to do with their music to not only please their fans with something new, but also what they teach them with the music knowledge that they bring to the table.