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.
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?