Blogosphere should pay its respects to rap culture

Blogosphere should pay its respects to rap culture

Summary: There are many similarities between rap music and blogging cultures


I'm a newbie to blogging. I started barely a year ago, and I'm still a newbie. But I love this form of writing because it is a unique media format yet familiar in many ways.

Blogging is part e-mail, it is part column, it is part news story--it can encompass a wide variety of styles and formats. And it is all within an environment that encourages trying things out, it encourages "beta releases," every "t" doesn't need to be crossed, it can be raw.

Above all, blogging comes with a culture and a sensibility that defines it. As in the rap culture, the top bloggers are known by their cojones, they invite challenge everytime they post. But I've seen aspects of this culture and I've seen it for many years--many years before blogging happened.

And the place I've seen it is in the Rap/ urban Hip-Hop music culture. And that is why it is good to be a newbie to this blogging culture--and to the American culture as I am, coming from London--newbies can sometimes notice things and give respect where it is due.

What I noticed was that "keeping it real" was real important in both blogging and in the Hip-Hop/Rap music scene. Keeping it real is something which you can't fake--you know it when you hear/feel it.

In the Hip-Hop/Rap scene you could see that when artists spent too much time in their mansions--keeping it real became real difficult and often shortened their careers. And in blogging--the same applies, if you can't keep it real it really shows.

Keeping it real

I had a fascinating conversation with Microsoft's top blogger Robert Scoble on this topic one evening. He said that every time he tries to fudge a little online, his readers catch him out.

I said I noticed the same thing too, and that this phenomena is also affecting my off-line life. For example, it is really difficult for me to tell a white lie such as "I got caught in traffic" or "I'm late, my cat died." It just feels too weird and it just "reads" strangely if I try to write it.

I remember the first time I met Jeremy Zawodny, Yahoo's top blogger, we discussed this topic. He asked me a question, "What do you do if if you can't keep it real?"

I told him that was easy: "Just don't say it."

One of the things I learned this past year was that the more I write (blog) the more authentic I become online and off-line. There is something in the process of writing (blogging) that has opened up an entirely new experience of myself. I feel silly writing that sentence, but that has been my experience.

And I often have an experience of being able to "think"  through my fingers. For example, I will start typing an analysis of a tech industry news event, and it is the act of writing that allows me to "think it through." That usually means scrapping the first draft and ending up with a much better piece.

There is another aspect of the blogging culture that reminds me strongly of the Hip-Hop/Rap culture.

The play on words, the deliberate misspelling of words, the use of words as sounds. Hip-Hop/Rap did all those things before the BlogoSphere showed up. (And we know how the BlogoSphere values who did/said things first.)

The BlogoSphere was shown how to use words as changing, living, cultural artefacts--rather than as words and sentences of a mainstream culture ruled by grammar and punctuation--a  difficult format in which to express the experience of ourselves and our times.

Another familiar theme is that bloggers have assumed much of the "braggadocio" culture of Rap artists. Sometimes it seems that the egos of the blogger elite can barely be contained within our solar system.

As in the Rap culture, the top bloggers are known by their cajones, they invite challenge everytime they post. And that takes balls--only some women and men have them.

But will we get a gangsta blogging culture? Will Scoble's Hummer accidentally nudge Jeremy Zawodny's Prius into a Silicon Valley Superfund toxic sludge pit one of these days?

Not that long ago, I was accused of trying to start a West Coast-East Coast fight between our media elites. It wasn't a serious accusation, but it does show that others do feel the connection between blogging and Rap music culture, and that we need to pay our dues to those that led the way, imho.

- - -

Please see part one of "A Martin Luther King Essay" on Silicon Valley Watcher.

Topic: Legal

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  • I think you mean cojones

    Probably you meant "cojones" rather than "cajones", which are "drawers". Maybe they have cajones as well.
  • Just Another Excuse

    This appears to be just another excuse by some foreigner for the degraduation of our great American Culture by those who can't or won't take the time and trouble to learn and appreciate it, along with the proper use and respect for our language and the attendant grammar and diction which is part & parcel of it.
    No serious scholar whom I know of thinks that the profane and deviant offal which the so-called "Rap" movement has expectorated upon us has made anything approaching a positive contribution to our society.
    Need I remind any who have forgotten the History of Civilization that the decline of the Roman Empire started with just such "trivial" adulterations...
    • great american culture

      hahahahahah great "american culture" .. that's great.

      hahah.. ahh .. thank you, I needed that.
      • yes, american culture

        jazz, rock and roll, rap, heck, even the internet you're using to promote your scorn.

        I noticed you didn't identify your superior culture... hiding something? ;)
    • Just another excuse

      I thank you for your obvious attention to detail and history. Unfortunatly our culture has gone well beyond the point of starting it's decline.
      I just wish a lot of others would realize the same thing, however, just like in politics, average people do not learn from previous mistakes either.
    • Elitism

      You know, people said the same thing about rock music in the 50s. You listen to big bands, symphony music and opera exclusively?

      Culture is whatever humans surround themselves with, and no, it doesn't apply to everybody. But hip hop / rap is THE dominant music form in the world today, bar none. It is a type of music that is popular in every corner of the world. That's impressive, and deserves respect because it is an expression of humanity.

      Culture isn't just what the elites think it is.
      John Carroll
  • hardly new

    Just becasue you're young enough that rap was your first awareness doesn't mean these things were new with rap.
    The punk movemnet had many of these years before rap. And some of these punk bands actually created some of the earliest rap songs. (Blondie, Jim Carroll, even Aerosmith)
  • Respect? It don't deserve no stinkin' respect!

    Both of these subjects, blogging and hip-hop, are equally useless in the greater march of history. Hip-hop/rap is no more than the latest incarnation of boisterous, brain-dead musical(?) expression that began at least in the 50's. Blogging is narcissistic navel-gazing for those with too much time on their hands. Oversimplifications? Probably, but neither of these areas interest me. Twenty years from now they'll both be nearly-forgotten, curious aspects of turn-of-the-century culture and some new form of idiot entertainment will be in vogue.