Friday, October 22, 2004

A note towards an epic music post. I am fascinated by the qualities of different vocalists, and it was only when I got to do the Mikey J paper that I really got into what Roland Barthes calls "the grain of the voice". I only really scratched the surface of that idea by using Simon Frith's expansion of Barthes in his chapter on the voice from Performing Rites.

I also remember when I was researching Mikey J that I came across an academic paper that was kind of "Rap for Dummies" - I can't remember who it was by - explaining the aesthetics of rap to an audience that necessarily wouldn't listen to it. What a quixotic project. But anyway. Whoever had written this had a big long passage on the idea of "flow", which has a complex meaning in vernacular (as opposed to academic or critical) hip-hop discourse, but I'll butcher it as "a vocalist's ability to deliver lyrics with a sense of rhythmic timing and vocal nuance".

The example used was Rakim (and a few others, too; maybe Chuck D?). But for ages, I have been wanting to write something here about why I like the sound of Jay-Z's voice so much. Then I thought I would add a second post about why I like Ludacris so much, based solely on the way he delivers one line: "Feels like a midget is hanging from my necklace". Then I would need one on Missy Elliott, and a subsequent one on Eminem, who I think has as great a handle on eye-rhymes as any other lyricist from Lorenz Hart to Rakim.

So think of this as a work in progress. Watch out for Chapter One: Life and Rhymes of S Carter.

In other music-nerd business, I got the proofs of my booty dancing paper today and I was kind of amazed that I could have been that intelligent and articulate. I am very happy with it. I don't imagine that "Yo check it" Tony Mitchell will be quite as happy.

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