Today we learned that Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, one-third of the seminal hip-hop group Run DMC, is hosting a realitycompetition series titled, The Kings of Rap. It’s being described as a “positive-themed hip-hop competition”that asks contestants to create hip-hop music without glorifying violence, degradingwomen, or using profanity. “The spirit of hip hop was always about changingthe world or yourself, not with a gun or with denigrating or offensivewords, but by being effective with your mind,” McDaniels says in a release.
I kinda like this idea, but not because it teaches kids a good lesson or whatever. It very well might, but the fact is, kids like music that freaks their parents out, and four-letter words and violence are a great way to do that. Cleaning it up and telling kids “this wholesome stuff is better for you” sounds preachy and will never fly. What’s more, hip-hop has always had a thug/street element to it, and street language is a big part of that. However, if framed correctly, there is something to be said from a purely lyrical and conceptual standpoint about removing the flashy trappings of street thuggery and forcing MCs to stand or fall purely on their flow, phrasing, and ideas. If you can’t say it well without using four-letter words or threatening violence, maybe you should think about whether you have something worth saying at all. I think The Kings of Rap can be kind of cool, but only if they make it about what kids SHOULD be doing rather than what they should NOT.
Anyone think this could work? Who are some of your favorite “positive-themed” MCs?