Let's begin dissecting these statements that have just now come to my attention from last month from rapper Kanye West (you've gotta tell me these things people!), by posing the question, what is rap music?
Well, rap music at its core is a derivative of hip-hop and reggae, combining solid tunes (often these days digitally synthesized), and spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics.
Now, what is "rock 'n' roll." Rock music was born from the country roots of the United States, where folk tunes were most prominent. When the blues started to get a little promiscuous, and a little bit rebellious to boot, they called it "rock 'n' roll," and although nobody today would pin Elvis as being one of the most provocative characters that you should keep your children from watching (see; Miley Cyrus twerking), back in the day, those hips got him into more trouble than any artist of the era.
So now that we have a little background about where it came from, how easy is it to say that anything is the "new" rock 'n' roll?
Well, I'm glad you asked, and the answer is not very, and definitely rap music would not be the "new."
Aside from the fact that rock music owes its heritage to literally centuries of evolution of music, and the progressively increasing love of the blues, and rap music mostly owes itself (these days) to rehashes of tunes produced in the '80s and '90s, and sampling other people's work, rock music isn't going anywhere. Nor are the patrons, musicians, and venues that make it so.
I don't want to rag on rap music, because, well- that's a losing fight. And I am a fan of plenty of rap artists, namely Kid Cudi, Eminem, Atmosphere, and you know- rappers rapping about real things, not gold diggers and "booty," sorry Kanye...
Now if Mr. West's ego was any bigger, it would form its own website and create a following on social media, then make the bold claim that it was bigger than Kanye (even though it's an extension of him) and proclaim it to be the new rockstar.
Rappers, while I have the utmost respect for most of you, please don't take his words to heart. You're not the new "rockstars" because, well, rockstars are really kind of...irrelevant.
In fact, before the days of the first ever Woodstock, the word "rockstar" really didn't exist. Following the major life altering festival, musicians and their bands were soon garnering bigger followings and what followed was your average being a drugged up bunch of party boys (and girls) that often got themselves into more trouble than it was worth.
So if you mean to say that rappers are becoming more prominent in the light of being more reckless, stupid, and short-sighted, okay, go for it, but say that, not "rockstars." The word "rockstar" has to be earned by, you know, playing rock music.
(P.S. if you're looking to now produce a new rock oriented album, Mr. West, I would be happy to slam it for you. Just say the word.)
Musicians have slowed their roles and started thinking proactively about their health, and becoming less and less of these God-like characters, which is fine, because we love them even more.
It's very wrong, however, to suggest that you're in the same league as people like Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Dead Boys, Blondie, Ramones, Poison, and Twisted Sister.
And on that note: Kanye West is certainly not at the top of his game as a rapper these days, let alone the top of his game as a musician period (if you could call him that).
To say you're No. 1 is a big claim, and you'd better have the minerals to back it up. Fortunately, most of the NJ music scene, and the greater American and international scene understand that.
As I recall, The Beatles greatest downfall was them claiming they were bigger than Jesus.
(That seems like an over-promise...)
You're an "okay" rapper, buddy. So the next time you feel like talking to the press about things, think before you open your mouth. You might just stop yourself from pissing somebody off.