Published: Friday, April 17, 2009
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2009 11:04
Photo illustration by Jen Stiles.
Most people deny the similarites between rap and country music said Rick Davies, associate professor of music. Both genres have Southern roots and gospel influences.
Most people couldn't imagine similarities between Kanye West and Carrie Underwood.
West rose to fame through rap songs that glamorized an urban-bourgeoisie lifestyle.
Underwood progressed in the mainstream by belting ballads about the southern lifestyle.
However, some Plattsburgh State students and faculty believe there are more similarities than differences between the two genres.
Rick Davies, associate professor of music, said rap and country music have the same roots.
Davies said they both originated in the south. He argued that there wouldn't be country music without African-Americans.
"If you dig deep, rap and country music are both African-American to an extent," he said. "Southern people wouldn't admit it, but there's some gospel in country music. It's not as dramatic, but it's still there."
Davies said rap is rooted in soul music which was, like country, derived from gospel.
"Hip-hop music comes from soul," he said. "It's the updated version of rhythm and blues with the rap element. It covers a lot of ground."
Davies said the mechanics of country music were influenced by gospel — almost all of the same instruments and elements are used.
He said he doesn't believe the popularization of rap has marginalized the overall success of country music.
"I think (country music) is still popular," he said. "Country is more conservative, rap is liberal."
PSUC student Alex Davis, who specializes in audio-production, agreed that country music hasn't been overshadowed on the charts.
"Back home in Albany, the country music station is No. 1 by over three points," Davis said. "That's huge. I was very surprised."
Davis said rap and country music aren't polar-opposites. Both of the genres encourage stereotypes of people who don't exist in real life, he said.
"They both exploit women," Davis said. "They both embrace automobiles. There are a lot of songs about going to bars, drinking and smoking and guns."
PSUC freshman Meg Montgomery sees the similarities between rap and country music as being more modest. "Every single song tells a story, whether it's country or other types of music," she said. "Most people don't like realize it sets the stage for Elvis and other rock musicians."
Montgomery said most people don't like country music because it "(tends to have a twang), and is mellow."
There are also political reasons for the lack of popularity of country music in the mainstream, she said.
"Some people are turned off by it because it has a hyper-patriotic underlining," she said. "It's kind of ironic because most of country music comes from the south, and they're singing about how great America is."
There have been instances in pop culture where famous rap artists and country musicians have opposed the government.
On Sept. 2, 2005, rapper Kanye West created controversy for his comment during a benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina.
He said that "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
West's remark is in synchronization with the attitude of most rap artists' opinion of the 43rd president.
This remark was preceded by the Dixie Chicks.
On March 10, 2003, the Dixie Chicks, a country band, were criticized due to band member Natalie Maines' comment, "We do not want this war, this violence and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas."
Davies said the juxtaposition of rap and country music is important.
It's inaccurate for country music to be labeled as "classical white music," he said.
Without the development of gospel and later, rap and country music, everyone would "probably be singing opera."