Rappers who rap over pre-recorded vocals should stick to wrapping at Christmas time

This is a rant. It involves rappers and how rappers shouldn't rap over their pre-recorded vocals, a phenomenon we've been seeing more and more lately. It's the equivalent to singing along with a music video on BET turned up so high that the volume is distorted. No matter how lively and enthusiastic the performance might be, you might as well be holding a hair brush in front of your mirror at home in your bedroom.

I can't count how many times I've been at rap shows from local artists and rather than putting all the energy of flailing arms and legs into vocal perfection, the artist allows the studio perfected track to do all the work. It's cheating, and it's got to stop.

What the hell would you do if at a Prince concert, and rather than the Purple One belting out the lyrics to "Little Red Corvette" himself, he let a pre-recorded studio track he made decades ago entertain you? You'd feel ripped off! The passion, the grit, the grime, pain and joy, is what you want to convey in a live performance, and some rappers just aren't cutting it!

The problem is too many rappers step onto the scene expecting to be Jay-Z right away. Truth is, somewhere, there's a finishing school for rappers where they'll be forced to watch Lady Gaga's live show in repetition to learn stage presence and breath control. So sad, but so true.

The audience wants to see and feel and HEAR a performance. Is that too much to ask? Breath control, vocal dynamics and microphone handling are all things that rapper's responsibility. When they hold the microphone, we should hear their voices, not studio vocals that drown out the live vocals.

Rappers, take note: Find yourself a deejay that can make sure your instrumentals are mixed to perfection and concert ready. Don't act like you don't now how to do this. I've seen and heard so many of you a capella, spitting in ciphers, maintaining your craft and credence amongst your peers, so why so shy?

Get your talented freaking self up on the stage with the confidence of Chuck D and rap your little hip-hop heart out! To the instrumentals! Learn the words, and if your words aren't worth learning, go back to the drawing board.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ru Johnson
Contact: Ru Johnson