Comp I - Evaluations

Evaluative Essays

Rap Music:  Kickin’ it Old-School

Deborah Donald

With all the new artists these days, it is hard to determine what good rap music is. Music has evolved a lot in the last couple decades, and music style and lyrics have also changed. Rap music is deteriorating due to greed and corporate takeovers. Over the years, rap has gone from local to mainstream. It has declined in quality of the lyrics, style of beats, and integrity of the rappers themselves.

First of all, rap was born in the streets of New York. Old school rap was made in the streets. The songs were recorded in basements and tiny studios. Back in the day, rap wasn’t about what label signed the album; it was about how the music felt. On the other hand, modern day rap is only made in the studio; it has no home. The only way to make it big these days is to sign with a corporate label, like Rock-A-Fella Records or Cash Money Records. The modern day rappers consider wherever they are to be their homes, whereas back in the day, rappers represented their neighborhood or block. There weren’t many big corporations, and a rapper didn’t have to sign with a label to become famous.

Secondly, the beats used in old school rap were original. Most old school rappers made their own beats. In listening to old songs like “My Adidas,” by Run DMC, one notices that the beats are original and easy to listen to. The music just flows along easily; anyone can keep up with it. The rappers these days use sampled beats and synthesizers. A lot of the new songs sound computerized and fake. Beats today are complicated and hard to follow. The music is all over the place, and there are even samplings from old school rap songs. Rather than keeping it simple and having one beat like the old school, new age rap has a wide variety of inconsistent beats and sounds.

Last but certainly not least, the thing that has changed the most is the lyrics of rap songs have changed the most. Rappers, like Tupac, Run DMC, Beastie Boys, and Notorious BIG used to stand for something. Old school rappers used to rap about important everyday issues. Tupac’s “Brenda’s Got A Baby” is a song about a young girls’ struggles of growing up and being pregnant. This song was an eye opener for a lot of young women. For example:

I hear that Brenda’s got a baby/ but Brenda’s barely got a brain.

A damn shame/ the girl can hardly spell her name.

Just because you’re in the ghetto/ doesn’t mean you can’t grow.


Lyrics like these gave the listeners pride and self-worth; they meant something. The old school lyrics talked about everyday trials and tribulations, real life stuff. Nowadays, rappers like Lil Wayne and Eminem have taken the true meaning and feeling out of rap. Lil Wayne’s song “Lollipop” is all about sex. The lyrics state:

She licks it like a lollipop.

Shorty wants a thug,/ bottles in the club.

Shorty wanna hump,/ you know I like to touch/

Your lovely lady lumps.


Not only are lyrics like these degrading to women, but they also make no sense. Rap lyrics today offer no meaning or sense of pride. Most modern day rappers only make songs about drugs, money, sex, and cars. There is no feeling or effort put into modern lyrics. Today’s rappers will say whatever helps a record sell, even if it is just for shock value.

It is easy to determine the differences between the home, the beats, the lyrics, and the integrity of old school versus new age rap. In all actuality, modern day rappers are only giving the people what they want. These days, mainstream sells. The days of truly loving rap lyrics and having pride in the songs is dead. Rap has become so mainstream that most young people do not even know who Run DMC or De La Sol are, but I bet they can sing the lyrics to a Lil Wayne or Eminem song. I will never completely understand modern day rap, and old school will always hold the torch in my heart.


The Man Behind the Image

Elijah Lahud

When talking about my grandfather, John Erickson, the hardest question to answer is, “Where does one start?” I don’t really think anyone knows exactly what his big dream in life is. I don’t even think my grandfather knew, to be honest.  As one views John Erickson’s life in retrospect, one sees how broad (and almost random) his accomplishments were, from catching odd acting jobs during the 1930s (bagging him the opportunity of sneaking Judy Garland out of the studio for a burger, something her diet coaches had deprived her of for so long) to flying the Mustang fighter aircraft in WWII (ultimately becoming an instructor in aerial combat to rookie pilots). Going into detail regarding his bucket list would take too much time, so let the statement suffice that my grandfather lived a life filled with a various and notable achievements. What is worth going into detail, however, is the character traits this man cultivated that ultimately were the causes of his continued success. He proved that with relationship, ingenuity, and determination, the sky is the limit…which for him, was realized in a literal sense.

John viewed the relationships in his life with the highest regard, realizing that our relationships with each other are the only things that actually endure in our lives, and consequently, they’re worth investing in. It was this trait that led him to a significant friendship with a fellow pilot, a man by the name of Robert K. Morgan (That name may sound familiar to some of you. Bob was the captain of the famous bomber “The Memphis Belle”). After the war, Morgan, recognizing John’s qualities, offered him a position in the family’s furniture company. Though John had graduated college with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, it was this re-introduction into civilian life that led him into a switch in careers, favoring instead Business Consulting and Management. True to form, John dealt with his superiors in honest terms, and because of this, they continued to commit to him greater levels in responsibility, resulting later in him supervising corporation contracts and production methods.

In each position John was placed in, his initial approach would be educating himself in the designs, materials and processes employed; this was the reason for his ingenious innovations. “John was a product of ‘old school’ simplification. As he witnessed changes in the industry, he took advantage of the opportunities they presented for innovation” (Lahud). He possessed a well-cultivated knack for finding the faults in designs and manufacturing processes, and also for developing effective and efficient solutions. One such innovation: instead of destroying trees to harvest raw lumber, and considering the expansion and contraction problems created by such, why not use a waterproof medium density fiberboard and apply a solid-wood imitation graphic? This is the process now used in every global distribution company such as Home Depot, Menards, and the like. At first glance, those cabinets look like solid wood…not so, it’s actually a paper graphic.

Many times, however, a good idea simply isn’t enough, and many obstacles arise in the process between the blueprint and the conveyor belt. Going back to those ‘old school’ roots, John was as stubborn and determined as they come, and his employers learned to admire him for this quality. “He never gave up! If he believed in an idea he had developed, he argued it until his colleagues were as convinced as he was” (Lahud). It was this determination that led him to establishing Burbank Bookcase Systems, a successful “custom bookcase” production facility.

As we view the cause-and-effect relationship in events, and more importantly, the immediate factors of such, one must also take a moment to consider the underlying principles which initially affected the actions. John died in 1979 due to a massive heart attack, but his qualities have inspired many in overcoming the obstacles encountered in achieving their ambitions. To the ambitious youth he crossed paths with, John reiterated one thing: “Educate yourself, but always develop a secondary plan to fall back on, because sometimes things just get tough” (Lahud).

Work Cited

Lahud, Joseph. Personal interview. 11 October 2011.