Political commentator Ben Shapiro has faced outrage online again – this time, it’s not his comments on LGBT or black people that have critics up in arms, but rap.
Speaking on his show to independent rap artist Zuby, The Daily Wire editor-in-chief said he had issues with rap music regarding both form and content.
“In my view, and in the view of my music theorist father who went to music school, there are three elements to music. There is harmony, there is melody and there is rhythm," Shapiro said (30:05 onwards).
“And rap only fulfils one of these, the rhythm section. There’s not a lot of melody and there's not a lot of harmony. And thus, effectively, it is basically spoken rhythm. It's not actually a form of music, it’s a form of rhythmic speaking… So, beyond the subjectivity of me just not enjoying rap all that much, what I've said before is it is not music.”
Zuby light-heartedly laughed at the comments, saying that while rapping is different from signing and the focus in rap is on rhythm rather than melody and harmony, the latter two elements are in place in rap music as well.
The British rapper, a vocal opponent of identity politics, garnered worldwide attention due to a viral tweet in February when he filmed himself “destroying” the women’s deadlift record saying he “identified as a woman” while lifting the weight – in an apparent dig at the debate regarding transgender people in competitive sports.
I keep hearing about how biological men don't have any physical strength advantage over women in 2019...— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) February 26, 2019
So watch me DESTROY the British Women's deadlift record without trying.
P.S. I identified as a woman whilst lifting the weight. Don't be a bigot. 😂 pic.twitter.com/dYRraHCB42
“From the outside, when I listen to hip-hop, I don’t hear a bunch of family-oriented messages,” Shapiro said of his complaints about content in the genre. “In fact, I hear a lot of messages that are degrading to women, I hear messages that push violence, that are disparaging to the police. I hear messages that seem to treat relationships between men and women as something disposable or glorify mistreatment of women.”
“The art form overall, which not only has a major impact on not just black young people but is disproportionately listened to by white young people," Shapiro said. “I don't particularly like a lot of the messages I hear in hip hop.” Zuby agreed with this take, saying these traits are particularly visible in mainstream music.
Shapiro expressed similar views in a number of tweets dating back to 2012, that have never failed to ignite a controversy. The reactions now – just as furious
Ben Shapiro said what?? THIS MAN SAYING RAP MUSIC ISN'T REAL IF OUR EYES AREN'T REAL IS SEEEENDING ME!!! pic.twitter.com/mWLwcLKSDl— twomad (@twomad_) September 16, 2019
Ben Shapiro saying "rap music isn't really music" in the nerdiest white-guy voice imaginable is just begging to be sampled in a million rap songs.— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) September 16, 2019
A case study on why you should never talk with authority on things you don’t and have never genuinely tried to understand.— Dissect Podcast (@dissectpodcast) September 16, 2019
This analysis of rap music by @benshapiro is beyond idiotic. My man @MrChuckD would destroy his thesis in under 60 seconds. Poor Ben should watch Ice T’s @FINALLEVEL documentary on rap music. https://t.co/uy45i9TBFE— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) September 16, 2019
Yo @benshapiro have you ever really listened to hip hop ? Not just a song or two and decided it wasn’t for you , I mean actually took the time to study and listen to it? It’s full of beautiful melodies and harmonies . In fact some of the modern rap is more melodic than pop music https://t.co/irYYn8Z1Ld— Jelly Roll (@JellyRoll615) September 15, 2019
Music reviewer and popular YouTuber Anthony Fantano has dismissed Shapiro's melody-harmony-rhythm theory, saying it is as accurate as alchemy is to chemistry or science.
“What about timbre, texture, dynamics, tempo and tons of other things that are pretty key elements to music?” he inquired. “The truth is, these three elements don't go that far to describe what music truly is and could be.”
If applied to other genres, Fantano continued, Shapiro's three-element theory would also mean that pieces of music that lack some of these elements, for example ambient music, should also be labelled non-musical.
"The only reason Ben makes the argument...is because historically and politically, hip-hop is pretty left-wing and anti-conservative, at least questioning at its core elements of white culture," he concluded.