Many people have alerted me to this piece in the Dec/Jan New Yorker, which is about "rap's new drug obsession"--cocaine. Critic Sasha Frere-Jones justifies the creation of the genre by insisting that its existence is more than topical. Rapping about dealing coke, he claims, forces lyrical experimentation, compelling hip hop artistes like Clipse and Young Jeezy to write "complex poetry: songs that simultaneously broadcast and hide their meaning." So double meaning and allegory assume a sense of urgency when underwritten by illegality: Therein lies the real connection to a poetic tradition.
Musical genres are funny things. I've never felt comfortable answering the question, "What sort of music do you like?" The category "indie rock" feels simultaneously pretentious and prosaic, so I usually try to veer into the overly specific ("ugly-bearded-weirdo-singer-songwriters).
Allmusic.com has some interesting lists of genres. Here are my five favorites:
1. Quiet Storm: "Urbane sophistication and subdued soulfulness"; pants-dropping R&B
2. Truck-driving Country: "hard-driving" honky tonk from the '70's
3. Happy hardcore: post-rave music for drugged-out clubgoers
4. Songster: a blues tradition that evolved in the South after slavery
5. Madchester: psychedelic 80's brit rock
On a related note, I thought of two new band names I would consider if I sang or played an instrument. "Dr. Mina and the Free Radicals" and "Literary Allusion."