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Highbrow/lowbrow


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R. Nixon

Eng 3090


Professor Pullman

March 27, 2003

The subject that I chose to delve into for my “highbrow/lowbrow” assignment was music artist in particular of the rap/hip-hop venue. My choice of such a subject goes back to my adolescence when I can remember as a young teenager becoming fascinated with such musical artist as Whodini, RUN D.M.C, and L.L. Cool J. These artists greatly inspired me to begin writing a journal, which later transformed into rhymes to songs that I began to compose. The influence of musical artist on the youth plays a good part in their lives as they idolize these musicians as role models. I chose music artist as my subject because the role models in my life that I admire until this day, whether alive or deceased, have played an important role in my life and molding me as a man.

Out of the several music magazines available, the five I chose to research more of for my assignment were the Rolling Stones magazine, XXL (double XL) magazine, Billboard magazine, The Source magazine, and Spin magazine. These five magazines caught my interest of being quite informative on the artist of my genre, despite the fact that I’ve only have read two out of the five magazines, The Source and XXL, before hand. Out of the five magazines of choice, The Source and XXL, which covers rap/hip-hop and R & B (rhythm and blues) music appears to fit into the highbrow category according to the stylistic features of the magazines. Rolling Stone, Billboard and Spin magazine is of a different caliber of magazine and cover similar artist as the before mentioned magazines, but cover a wider scope of artist from Rock and Pop (also known as rock n’ roll and popular music). The later magazines, (Rolling Stone, Billboard and Spin) intended audience after reviewing them and reading several articles, tend to lean more towards a broader scope of people. These magazines not only cover what the others cover (rap/ hip-hop, R & B), but they also cover other categories of music (Rock and Pop), which in turn creates a wider range of music readers who are interested in reading articles on the artist of their interest. While magazines limit their choice of music to cover, they as well lose a portion of the potential audience that read music magazines. I don’t think that either of the two are better than each other, I just think that some magazines are for a selected audience while others are not.

The obvious differences between the two magazines The Source and XXL to the other magazines are that there are people of color on The Source and XXL, with occasionally a Caucasian artist such as Eminem appearing on an issue. The rap/hip-hop magazines cover those artists who are in this industry and evidently Caucasian artist are the minority. Where as The Rolling Stone, Billboard and Spin have majority of their front cover with Caucasians because of the vast range of music and Caucasians are the majority. For instance, on the Rolling Stone magazine, Lisa Marie Presley is on the front cover with subheadings of artist such as Ringo Starr, Linkin Park and the band The White Stripes. Spin magazine has the title “The next big things issue, 50 cool new bands ready to rock 2003”, with artist such as Gun n’ Roses and the B-52’s. Now The Source magazine have the artist Snoop Dogg on it’s front cover, with subtitle artist such as 50 cent, Cam’Ron and the Diplomats, Lil’Kim, Ludacris, Luke, and Jahiem while XXL have Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent on their front cover with subtitles of artist such as Big Pun, Big L, Common, Murphy Lee, and a JMJ tribute. I’ve found on occasion the Rolling Stones magazine and the like will cover rap/hip-hop artist, especially if that artist have won an award or becomes popular among the whole music industry. There’s no discrimination when it comes down to who’s on the front cover of a magazine or who’s in it, it’s all based on that artist popularity at the time and whether or not the magazine recognizes these artist in the music field they choose to cover.

The Articles

Highbrow


50 Cent

The grimy, street-level rapper 50 Cent has been through the ringer of all sorts during his career. Prior to his latest release, you could find him making mix-tapes to recoup for Sony/Columbia records dropping him from his first release “Power of the Dollar” after they claimed his joint was been bootlegged all over the streets. He was shot on May 24, 2000 before the release so he retreated to the underground to work on his style. In 2002, he resurfaced with an offer contract by artist Eminem for over a million dollars.

Born Curtis Jackson, the one-time boxer recorded the song "How to Rob", detailing how he would rob famous rap artists like Master P and Timbaland and a prospective breakthrough single with Destiny's Child, "Thug Love". He made dozens of underground tracks with producer Money XL. These recordings circulated quickly through New York on mix tapes and were compiled on black-market CDs. The rapper created quite a street-level buzz for himself and his G-Unit clique. The buzz eventually became so pervasive that a major-label bidding war ensued between such labels as Universal, and Jive, according to rumors. Eminem ended up signing him to his Shady/Aftermath label, reportedly offering over a million dollars. Following the signing, he entered the studio with Eminem and Dre to record songs for his upcoming release “Get Rich or Die Tryin”.

Lowbrow

Linkin Park


Linkin Park performed at Ozzfest 2001, on what appeared to be like band camp, because there were bands there, and it was during summer. During Ozzfest 2001, this huge spider bit Linkin Park's Chester Bennington on the ass. Bennington is one of Linkin Park's two singers, the one who does the real singing and most of the screaming. The spider was like a black widow or something. The welt, which Bennington shows off, with a mix of pride and terror, is awe-inspiring in a jackass kind of way: black and blue and about the size of an orange.

Things got very gross very quickly when the glands in Bennington's neck and armpits swollen up. As the poison permeated his bloodstream, he found hard, painful lumps all over his body. He thought that he had cancer; he was delusional and couldn't put a sentence together. He'd be walking, and a wall would come out of nowhere and smack him. Bennington's doctor prescribed Cipro, an antibiotic now known for treating inhalation anthrax. The doctor ordered him to sit out the band's last two Ozzfest dates, but Bennington refused.

Even under the best circumstances, Linkin Park's live performances are very emotionally and physically brutal and for the next two shows, poisoned and confused Bennington let out that lung-shredding rebel yell like the sound of a man ripping Band-Aids off his very soul, which is the way he always does, and jumped off the risers and the amps and the DJ booth, the way he always does. But Bennington had Cipro battling spider venom in his blood, and something about that cocktail made his depth perception go all goofy. Front man Mike Shinoda said that he fell on his face a couple times like he didn't expect the ground to be there so soon.

Linkin Park do what they do, with apparently bottomless commitment to the work of being a band because they're in it for the music and for the fans. There's talk and there's action, and if in the course of this story, Linkin Park seem like they're just talking, think about Bennington performing with poison in his blood, because even if a lot of the people in the heat and dust of the crowd were just there to pound Bud Light all day and heckle Ozzy's wrinkly warlock ass all night, there might have been someone out there who shelled out 37 bucks because they really needed to scream along.

`This assignment gave me a different perspective on the kind of music that I normal wouldn’t listen to. I think people assume that since rap/hip-hop music is infested with slur words and vulgarity that any written articles referring to this type of music will ensue similar rhetoric indeed. Amazingly, this is not the case. I’ve found the dialogue of Rock magazines more so vulgar than the present and then therefore conclude to proclaim that rap/hip-hop articles are of a highbrow stature and Rock articles of a lowbrow status.



The diction in both of the articles I wrote relates to the reader as each addressed the culture behind the music. Terminology for highbrow I understood more than lowbrow as I added the metaphors associated with each of the pieces. Both articles spoke in an active tone, both applying similar syntax to its sentence structure. The styles compliment each other, each understandable by non-traditional readers who may have browsed through the articles flagrantly. Reading an article out of all five magazines, I’ve learned that sophistication is about the combination of knowledge of whom you’re reading about and class, the type of industry you’re reading on. Both articles address the reader who is educated and high school dropouts, both are simple yet complex for the readers understanding.


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