Who Needs Rappers When We Have Robots?

Main Entry: sim·u·la·crum
Pronunciation: sim-yuh-la-kruhm
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin, from simulare

1 : image, representation
2 : an insubstantial form or semblance of something : trace

Recently I was on Twitter when I saw this tweet from prolific twitterer and DJ for the legendary Hip Hop group EPMD @drscratch.

sofreshsogreen’s reply:

I was womaning the sofreshsogreen twitter account that day and I knew at the time I could do better than that answer. Maybe not in 140 characters though so here goes.

In 5 years Hip Hop will be the same as it is now only younger with less powerful statements being made to illuminate the Black or the human experience. Oh yeah, there will be lots of bright colors too.

I think even further in the future we can have rap without rappers. The scourge that is Auto-tune will rise again even more powerful than it has been. This time instead of making humans sound like robots, Auto-tune will make robots or computers sound like humans.

My friend’s husband has a GPS system in his car with the computerized voice of a woman he calls “Gigi” giving him directions. What if Gigi’s voice was processed to reverse that voice and sound human?

On to Nas. Surely in his 19 year career he made and recorded every sound in the English language. He probably already used most of the words in his vocabulary cause he is such a lyricist. He also has not made an album yet to match the acclaim of his first Illmatic.

So why not just cut Nas out? Reverse a computerized voice saying anything the public, his record company or even Bill Cosby wants him to say. Blend that with any of his already recorded vocals and here we have rap without rappers!

Finally we can get our hands on a new Illmatic and Nas can go back to school to get his GED in time to go on tour, after memorizing the words to his new album of course.

Some master engineer will have to be in charge of piecing this all together. Initially she will make hits for the people, then she’ll get bought out and replaced with a new engineer on the take.

Songs for the people made popular by the people will be replaced by songs people like from their only options: corporate commercials or political propaganda.

A fight over recording masters will ensue. Real emcees will go underground for real, trying to avoid any more of their voices being captured for music they have no control over. If we’re lucky they’ll start Hip Hop all over again. In this future we will settle for the simulacrum of Hip Hop music.

It will be like in the Jetsons, where George Jetson would go to work and talk to that huge computer screen that talks back to him like a person. His name was Rudi, short for Referential Universal Differential Indexer, and just think soon he’ll be a rap star!

#1 on the charts in 2025 for 17 weeks in a row is Rudi featuring Tupac with “Record Companies Are Dope”. That hot single pushed Rudi’s other #1 hit “Killing Is Delicious”, featuring Sarah Palin’s cryogenically defrosted head, out the top spot.

It may sound crazy but aren’t already more than half the way there?

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3 comments

  1. Gedi

    “Songs for the people made popular by the people will be replaced by songs people like from their only options: corporate commercials or political propaganda.”

    Very interesting theory and even more telling when you consider the times we’re in. Even with the all the independence an artist can have because of the internet, corporations and labels still have all the marketing dollars. When that starts infiltrating past just product placement that’s pretty scary.

    Art and commerce can co-exist, but when the art is made with commerce in mind first its not art anymore.

  2. Madam Toussaint

    I wondered about art and commerce for many years, specifically with graphic designers, but then also interior designers whose work is for profit from the start. Then I became a graphic designer and found that the 2 can coexist and you can consider money and profit while you’re working or even before you work.

    I think integrity comes into play there. When you work you should be in a zone no matter how much money is at stake. So when and unsigned rapper makes a mixtape that sounds like what’s already out there in hopes of making money I think it’s a fail. Even if you’re looking to get on for money and whatnot that should not interfere with your process. A better, stronger artist could control all that and fit money or profitability into the design. Maybe that’s more of a design type of approach to making art but designers make art and do it everyday.

    So maybe the issue is art is made with commerce in mind first needs to be done well, seamlessly but never only for the money.

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