What if We Put Rap Lyrics to Country Music?

Over the years rap music has been one of those genres my parents tried to keep out of the house as long as possible. Even when I was in early high school I got into Christian rap which they immediately assumed was typical, inappropriate secular rap music (it took some convincing that the rappers in fact were NOT singing about drugs and alcohol). Rap music seems to cover a whole slew of controversies and in turn receives much of the backlash and hate for doing so. Meanwhile in country music a lot of the topics discussed are very similar yet do not take as much heat. Here are just a few comparisons between the two that might explain why this is. (side note: a lot of this is speculation from my experience with each of the genres so y’all may have differing opinions that I would love to hear.)

Sound. Country music generally has more upbeat melodies that you can dance to or just plain relax to. Popular songs such as “Friends in Low Places” and “The Boot-Scootin’ Boogie” make people want to get on their feet and dance. In contrast rap tends to have a harsher sound–not to say it sounds bad, just different. Many times the tone rappers have in their music can be a little angry or intense, like Eminem (sorry Slim Shady–still love you). This being said negative topics can more easily be associated with rap music even though both genres generally talk about the same things.

Singers Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj strike a pose

Look. Appearances matter–especially for musicians. What a musician wears for their performances and music videos says something about their self-expression and how they want people to view them. Although there can be an occasional country music star such as Dolly Parton who appears flashy on stage, for the most part they are more humble and down-to-earth in their appearance. Rap and Hip-Hop music is more edgy and usually pushes the boundaries of what is appropriate to wear on stage and in music videos.

Word Choice. The way lyrics are stated vary from genre to genre. Rap music tends to be more blunt. Artists will typically throw in clever puns that allude to illicit substances or sexual innuendos. Country music tends to romanticize lyrics–whether they really are romantic or not. One such song is “Your Man” by Josh Turner (locking the doors and turning the lights down low is a nice way to say they are about to ~get it on~). In the end, however, country music tends to not be nearly as vulgar in language as rap, which contributes to its positive reputation.

Beyond the Music. Could it be that aside from all of these technical reasons there is a deeper, underlying social issue? Race can be a very touchy subject but sometimes that can be the reason for a lot of stereotyping and hate. Rap does not receive a lot of hate–but more like criticism because of the touchy subjects it covers. Again a lot of this is from my perspective on rap music versus country music as a whole. I would like to hear what y’all think about the difference between rap and country in listeners’ ears. Looking back at the title: what if we put rap lyrics to country music? How would it be different? How would people take it?


Filed under Blog Post 4, Politics, Reflection

7 Responses to What if We Put Rap Lyrics to Country Music?

  1. Kaki Miller

    Darah, this is an interesting point and something I have wondered about for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love country music! But I do think that sometimes the content of the music is romanticized to cover up its inappropriateness. Rap on the other hand, (which I do listen to every once and a while,) is much more explicit with its vulgarity, and I wonder why country doesn’t get as much heat for its content. With the developing sound of country music, rap has started to make its way into country songs. Many artists are rapping in their songs so there is starting to be a cross-over between genres. It will be interesting to see how the sounds will develop.

  2. Sierra Smith

    Darah, your post was so interesting to read! Your title immediately caught my eye because I wanted to see where you were going with this. I really liked that you compared these two types of genres… it is such a unique topic! A lot of the points you made I agree with such as rap having a more negative stereotype than country music due to its vulgar language and hard hitting beats/angry tone of most songs. Eminem was a great example of typical rap because in almost every one of his songs he hits on all the points you were making. To answer the question you posed at the end (putting rap lyrics to country music) I think it would change the meaning of country music entirely. Because country is originally known its romantic lyrics, if we were to insert more vulgar language I think a lot of its fan base would disappear. People appreciate the fact that country artists use more appropriate language regardless if the meaning of the song is as raunchy as a rap song, and no one would want to see that change.

  3. Kelby Floerke

    I thought this was a very interesting topic. I had never honestly thought about how some country songs really are inappropriate, but I guess because of the stereotype country music has, they don’t get a bad rep for it! Growing up, my brother would purposely make my mom mad while driving in the car and play rap music. My mom was in shock at some of the lyrics that are in some rap songs, there are some really vulgar ones that is for sure. I think it all has to do with the stereotype that each genre has. Very interesting post, it will make me pay closer attention to some of the lyrics in country music.

  4. Caitie Labay

    This is most definitely an interesting topic to cover. It’s one of those things that no one really thinks about, but then once someone brings it up you think to yourself “man, why didn’t I think about that!” It can be funny how if I borrow my mom’s car and leave it on a rap station she immediately changes it the next time, but if it’s on country she’ll leave it be. I would definitely agree that it has to do a lot with aesthetics; both in terms of the sound of the song and the appearance of the artist. In general cowboys have always been respectable characters which I think has a lot to do with the acceptance of country music.

  5. Talia

    This is a topic I think about every now and then when I’m flipping the radio between rap, pop, or country stations(I hate commercials). I always say I am going to really sit down and compare lyrics to songs but it never happens. In my rhetoric class last semester we discussed race and societal perceptions and I now see that race does affect how we see almost everything but not necessarily in the a “I hate ____ race” way. As touchy as the topic is I think comparing music genres and how race, gender, and other touchy topics such as those lead to the perceptions people have would create some very interesting findings. However, I believe most people will always shy away from these things because of fear of backlash or negative comments. Along with those serious topics like you say just the way the music sounds or how a n artist sings can create moods which affect how you perceive a genre or song. This is such a deep topic you have made me want to find a way to incorporate this into one of my future blog posts as well!

  6. Adam Keyrouze

    This post raises a great question (which you state at the end) and while it’s brought up sometimes it’s never really answered. As a fan of both genres, my opinion is that stereotyping is one of the main issues in this debate. Growing up, my parents never wanted me listening to rap/hip hop but as I grew older, more of my peers and friends started listening to it therefore exposing me to it. While I started to grow fond of it my parents NEVER approved and until around senior year of high school disapproved very openly of me listening to it. I think the main reason of this is like you said the intense/angry tone of the lyrics along with the drug references and explicit language which is sometimes unnecessary. It’s just very different from the type of music that previous generations listened to. One thing that I remember my dad always telling me was that when he was young, his parents disapproved of him listening to rock music, and now looking back at that I think we can all agree that rock isn’t very controversial if at all today compared to new pop music.

  7. Elissa Killebrew

    I can see what you’re getting at and I like that you even thought to make this comparison. However, I don’t know why artists like Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt think its a good idea to incorporate rap into their music – I hate it. I love country music and I can tolerate some raps songs every now and then but these are two completely different mindsets. Country is my go-to music – its on when I’m studying, driving, or getting ready to go out. I have to be in a certain party mood to listen to rap, and I’m sure a lot of country fans like me feel the same way. These two genres couldn’t be more opposite so incorporating the two into one song seems like an awful idea to me. Country can crossover to pop and that can be pulled off. But country crossing over to rap? I really hope this trend doesn’t catch on.

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