My generation mostly doesn’t enjoy Rap or hip-hop and I understand that entirely. Each generation clings to the familiar; each generation finds the following ones lacking; each generation declares the end of history with their own passing.
And so, Rap music and hip-hop have been invisible to those of us who grew up on a different sort of music. Which is too bad, because there’s value there.
The impact has been that the lyrics brought poetry back from obscurity, back into the mainstream, and introduced it to those who might have lived a life without ever reading a line of verse. So much of this is poetry, a vigorous and relevant poetry. Some of it is vulgar or obscene (James Joyce anyone? Henry Miller?), some is vapid (How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?) and will soon be forgotten, but much of it touched on the human condition in a way that resonates with new generations.
One of the biggest of the hip-hop cross-over acts in the 80’s and beyond was certainly The Beastie Boys, who gained respect even amongst black fans. They did plenty of silly party stuff and were never high art. But they expanded a genre, a genre that I think was important. So RIP and fare thee well to founder Adam Yauch. This old lady thinks you done good.
Here’s a video by a rapper Mr. Lif (new to me, but I’ve been cruisin’ around here and found this. I like it, especially the lyrics).