Hip Hop and the Feedback Loop

My favourite way to joke about hip hop (years ago, when I was just a white boy who didn’t understand), was how often rappers would rap about rap.

“Listen to words that I create. Watch my lips arti-cu-late.” (My you can tell that my favourite rapper is the hiphopopotamus).

But now I get it. I understand. If you’re a hip hop artist, you’re entire world is your music. You live and breathe it. When you sit down to write your rhymes (here I imagine a big tough rapper hanging his gold chains on his chair, sitting at his writing desk, dipping his feather pen in the ink to craft his dope lyrics), you’re going to write about what’s on your mind: your music.

I’ve done this myself (not the rap part). A few months ago I gave a presentation about giving a presentation. Why? Because I get really excited about giving presentations. I’ve learned a lot about the topic that I want to share. The problem is that when the only thing I can present about is presenting itself, it can quickly become a feedback loop, an annoying squeal that lacks authority.

Your Facebook feed is only interesting if you actually have a life outside of Facebook.

An important part of making great art is the idea of symphony – combining various ideas and pieces to create something new. Dan Pink introduces the term in his book, A Whole New Mind. It’s this synthesis of ideas, this cross-pollination, that gives art depth and brings new insights to the table.

How can you bring pieces from the various realms you’re involved in together to create something new?

Maybe every hip hop artist who’s tempted to rap about rap should be forced to get a job at 7-11 or Starbucks or something. Then they could rhyme about barista stuff, “His name was George and he wanted to get, A grande mocha latte, with 2%.” It would be beautiful.

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