TrapLanta

Summary of Stage/Experiment 1

So far its been both a blessing and curse that my origin piece perfectly reflects my interests and ethical values. Despite the fact that I am an economics major and super passionate about finance, I am very conscious of the damage greed and capitalism have had throughout human history. My origin piece reflects this concern in that it is a philosophical narrative on how society would be different if money did not exist, and whether such a society would be feasible. As I mentioned in my last blog post, the primary problem with the origin piece is that it is far too broad and does not focus on any specific angle to address the ethical concern at hand.

In experiment 1, I attempted to portray the idea of a moneyless society through a modern social science novel, something like Freakonomics. I believe that my prior experience in reading these genres had provided me with both a clear passion and knowledge on the nuisances in the genre’s style. Yet over the course of the experiment I felt like my interest was waning, as I begun to realize that I was TOO familiar with this form of research writing. At a certain point I just wanted to end the experiment and then start doing something that was fresh for me and would force me to do something out of my comfort zone. So I begun to explore my other interests and passions to find something fun that I could combine my idea of a moneyless society with. I chose to experiment with my love for Hip-Hop music.

How To Write Modern Rap Music

Don’t get your hopes up, I’m not making a rap song and am not an aspiring SoundCloud rapper. I’m just a fan of a wide-range of hip-hop sub-genres: old-school East Coast, West Coast G-Funk, Southern chopped and screwed, Trap, “Mumble” rap, etc. You name the style and I probably already listen to it. In the past several years, there is a clear stylistic trend that any major hip-hop fan is aware of. This is the prevailing dominance of Atlanta trap.

Atlanta’s Modern Origins

There is no doubt that Atlanta is the modern capital of global hip-hop; however, this is difficult to observe in the moment. Only in retrospect do we see the dominance of NYC in the late 90s and the reemergence of California rap in the early 2000s. That is why we should briefly discuss my theory of TrapLanta’s rise. While many hip-hop cultures like the Gangsta rap culture of 90s’ LA are in response to social issues like police brutality and the War on Drugs, Atlanta rappers do not have seem to be responding to any larger issues, which explains why the lyrics are so widely criticized for being “empty.” That’s not to say that there are no issues to respond to, however. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and Logic have reasserted hip-hop’s usefulness as a social weapon, as they address police brutality, gay rights, and mental health awareness all in their songs. Thus, the question is, how has the consumeristic culture of Atlanta trap taken over in a time when it appears socially music conscious reigns supreme? My answer is simple: the sound. The meteoric rise of rap from 2015 onwards intersected directly with the trends in pop music production of the same time. Auto-tune, heavy bass, and a synthetic beat defined the pop-music of this time period. These features have always been at the heart of modern Atlanta rap music. Consequently, music from Future, 21 Savage, and Lil Yachty skyrocketed in popularity and took over radios, propelling these small rappers into superstardom in just two years. With Hip-Hop now the most listened to genre in America, making it the new “Pop” music, and rappers like Migos ascending to a trans-genre throne, it may not be too far-fetched to claim that Atlanta is now America’s music capital.

Music Video GIF by Migos - Find & Share on GIPHY

Yes, there are huge artists who have managed to maintain their own regions sound, like Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z. But most other artists have essentially fallen in line with fan demand and have tried to replicate the Atlanta style in both production and lyricism. Trap Music, the dominant sub-genre in rap currently, originated in Atlanta. If you are unsure who Atlanta’s biggest artists are, here’s a small list of them. Think about how many of them you were aware of five years ago.

  • Future
  • 2 Chainz
  • Migos
  • Lil Yachty
  • Gucci Mane
  • Young Thug
  • 21 Savage
  • Rich the Kid
  • 6Lack
  • Mike WiLL Made It

In just five years, these artists have forced hip-hop to evolve in the trap era. With that change in sound, however, there has been a forced change in lyrics. Materialism has always been prominent in rap, but it has escalated to a new formulaic level. Hit rap songs these days almost always feature the following phrases/words/brands:

  • ICE (diamond jewelry)
  • Lean (cough syrup x jolly ranchers x sprite)
  • Xanax
  • Maison Margiella designer clothing
  • Saint Lauren designer clothing
  • Goyard bags
  • Gucci
  • Chanel
  • Patek watches
  • Audimar watches
  • Cartier
  • Christian Loubotuin shoes
  • Wraith Rolls Royce
  • Moncler
  • Rolex
  • Raf Simmons

I would be willing to bet that 9 of the top 10 songs on the Billboard Rap list mention at least one of these brands, drugs, or phrases. What everything on that list has in common is that rappers mention them to flaunt their wealth. Whether rapping about materialism is a good look for music or not is up to you and your preferences, but reality is that rap music is more dependent on luxury brands than ever before. The consumeristic trend in music will be around as long as Atlanta is the sound. And Atlanta has just gotten started.

Goal:

Combining music and my thoughts about a moneyless world seems perfect considering this trend in hip-hop music. Although I don’t want to focus on Atlanta specifically, I do want to focus on the lyrical elements of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene. Thus, my plan is to conduct a statistical analysis of the top charting hip-hop songs of the year. Specifically, I want to see what proportion of the words in each of these songs have to do with consumer culture, drugs, and wealth. Perhaps through these numbers we can determine whether our tastes for meaningful lyrics are truly reflected in the charts, or whether our current generation simply pretends to want lyrical content (assuming that consumer culture isn’t real content to rap about). While for this experiment I will only check the top songs of 2017, for my final project I am considering comparing the most recent albums by my favorite artists (so that I don’t have to deal with Bruno Mars being at #1 of the charts).

How to Write Modern Social Science

Experiment 1 Stage 2 — Aayush Patel

Stage 1 Summary

                For my experimentation processes this semester, I have chosen to revisit a personal free-write piece from my junior year of high school that analyzed the historical consequences of having a “money-based” society and addressed whether a society without any concept of money was feasible. Because this piece was a free-write and my teacher had let us essentially ramble, there is no clear genre that I intended to replicate for this piece. However, my natural free-write tendencies led to this paper becoming more of a social/philosophical narrative argument with some signs of a research paper. And I’ll be honest, I thought I was hot shit in high school and my writing reflected that. I can just remember my arrogance as I wrote this paper and marveled at the beauty of my own philosophical thoughts. Now that I look back on it with a more humble outlook, I still think “DAMN I’M GOOD!” Just kidding. I really need to filter out my arrogance in this free write because it smells loud. That is only partially related to the genre experiment, but mostly a personal thing I want to improve on. In general, I’m really interested in seeing how my personality change in the last 3 years is reflected in this experimentation process.

Ultimately, I have the opportunity to transform this paper into any genre I want because the topic of a moneyless society can be tackled in so many variations, which is a blessing and a curse. For this first experiment, I want to experiment with modern research papers that present social research with a blend of objective and subjective arguments (think Freakonomics). This task will require me to conduct academic research on my topic and also find a unique balance between an academic tone and argumentation.

 

How to Present Modern Social Science

Since the 2000s, the social science genre has spiked as a result of a movement to incorporate authorial perspective in presenting research within these fields (economics, sociology, psychology, history, etc.). I believe that Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has likely lead this movement. These authors unique ability to present social research in an attention-grabbing and creative way has inspired researchers to rethink how they present their information. Their success in challenging societal misconceptions about real estate agents, sumo wrestlers, drug dealers, crime reduction policies, suicide, and abortion all within three-hundred page books is directly related with their success in incorporating their own perspectives with their research. Dubner and Gladwell excel at storytelling, drawing comparisons, and identifying real examples of their research’s conclusions about society. There’s no wonder that the Freakonomics podcast is now one of the most popular podcasts in the world, with Dubner in high demand by University seminars around the world (He was Michigan last year). The success of this social science presentation format has continued even into more current times. A look at the NYTimes Bestsellers list features dozens of books written by scientists and researchers, something that would not be possible if these individuals continued writing boring academic papers alone. Angela Duckworth, the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, entered the bestsellers list by presenting research on mental toughness and the importance of persistence towards personal goals. However, she supplements on concrete research with examples of how industry leaders, successful millionaires, and professional athletes all incorporate her work in their daily lives. This influence has even trickled into the more general science field. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry simplifies exactly what I am claiming about this genre transformation. The title alone suggests that a complex and dense subject matter like astrophysics will be presented “for people in a hurry”. This means limited jargon, less math, and most importantly, Tyson’s own perspective on his information. The global success of all of these novels suggest that the trend towards concise information and narrative tones in research is still continuing.

Here are some common themes in successful social science novels:

  • Select a general societal theme to emphasize and wrap your research around these themes. Freakonomics essentially focuses on incentives and the importance of analyzing hidden factors in social issues. Incentives are addressed by comparing real estate agents and sumo wrestlers. Hidden factors are discussed by analyzing the relationship between abortion and a reduction in crime. In other words, come up with things that sound flashy and will make your reader feel like they acquired specialized knowledge (even though they are just learning examples of general knowledge). You can trick your audience into thinking that they learned more than they actually did if you follow this essential rule.

 

  • Build on sub-themes over the course of the book to make audiences feel like the information is becoming more specialized as the book progresses. Gladwell chooses three laws of epidemics during the first part of his novel and briefly describes each of these laws. However, he chooses to present these three rules in an order of simple to most complex in order to make the audience feel like his research is becoming more scientific over the course of the novel. The idea of few people having a lot of social influence is simple, but the Power of Context (discussed towards the end of the book) is not. If your book isn’t getting more difficult to understand over the course, you’re kind of insulting your audience’s intelligence. Reward them for making it to chapter 10 by teaching them more complex ideas.

 

  • Avoid academic jargon if possible. Explain in simple terms and concrete examples if you are going to use jargon. The main reason modern social science is thriving is because authors have learned how to make knowledge more understandable and have distanced themselves from esoteric language. If your table of contents seems to be focused on too much jargon, you’ll scare readers away before they begin. The more simple your language, the larger your audience. This does not mean you sacrifice your academic integrity or dumb down your work (not entirely). Just build up topics slowly and provide common examples of principles and theories related to your field.

 

  • Stay away from getting too detailed about the empirical methods and math that were used to draw the social conclusions your research leads to. Readers who care will stick to academic journals anyways. Yeah, math is probably essential in defending your discoveries. But the average global audience will probably shed a tear if you try mentioning some calculus or your extremely complex empirical methods with little footnotes everywhere. Leave all this stuff for the actual academic publications. If readers are more interested into the method behind the madness then they’ll seek out the finer details on their own. Just focus on your themes and takeaways if you want to keep your readers awake by the end of chapter 1.

 

 

  • Provide your own concerns and feelings about your research to show the audience your human side. Nobody likes reading textbooks, so don’t write a textbook. You can still be your usual self and maintain your academic integrity. Loosen things up with personal anecdotes, humor (even though you’re probably not funny if you do research), and emotional responses to the case studies you decide to address.

 

Good Luck and Welcome to the genre Bandwagon!

 

 

Intro: Controlled Chaos

I’ve had people tell me for years that I should consider blogging because I guess I have pretty obscure thoughts, a passion for ranting, and a mind full of keen insights on a wide range of topics. I always thought I would eventually take on blogging as a hobby when I unleashed my bubbling desire to express the more chaotic side of my mind to the public, whenever that would be. I never expected even a few months ago that I would be creating an e-portfolio, let alone blogging for a class assignment. And now I’ve been thrown into this situation of controlling your perception of me. Isn’t that what a blog is, really? You know nothing about me really and haven’t seen me outside the classroom or maybe on campus, and now I get the chance to say anything I can think of, while having a generous amount of time to contemplate how every word I write will influence your ideas about me. In reality there isn’t so much time to play a mental game of chess while I talk to people, but in this setting I’m in control. Oh, I guess that’s how writing a book is to from an author’s perspective. Well damn, there basically was no point in trying to up my level of wit to write this blog. Now I have to find a new direction to go with this. Hmm. I guess the easiest way to explain myself is with my personal slogan that guides my personality and my decisions:

“Controlled Chaos.”

Don’t be scared, I literally just came up with that on the spot. I mean, I know that is how I would describe myself but I just didn’t coin a cool name for it UNTIL NOW. Wow, blogging is really helping me organize my thoughts, even if it seems like to you that I’m all over the place with this. What that phrase refers to is my inclination to make random decisions and say and do spontaneous things, while also being hyper-aware about the impact my decisions and words have on me and those around me. I’m essentially a fine balance between extremely calculated and “WHAT THE HELL,” if such a balance exists. For example, if you were wondering why I applied to the writing minor, well so am I!

Before you get offended and curse me out for taking this spot from someone who was dying to be apart of this program, hear my story. Basically, I drank too much coffee one night in September and, in my caffinated state, thought it would be funny to do something spontaneous, like start another minor in something I never expected myself doing. Because making random decisions about my education and my future is somehow funny to me. That probably doesn’t help my case at all. In fact, I might sound reckless. However, even though my decision to apply was spontaneous and took 1 second to make, my decision to accept was very calculated. My other guiding mantra is “Be Everything.” I do not confine myself to stereotypes or a rigid sense of self. I don’t tell myself that I am not a numbers person or that I am not a “liberal arts kinda guy,” or that I am just naturally better at somethings and bad at somethings. I want to be every type of person in order to expose myself to the entire world and the diverse knowledge it holds rather than just limiting myself by assigning myself a label. I HATE LABELS. That’s why I accepted the Minor in Writing program. I can now proudly say that I am an Economics Major, with a Statistics AND Writing minor. I’m truly pursuing a complete education that almost taps into every area of academia. I’ve always known that I wanted to end up on Wall Street because I believe succeeding in finance requires an understanding of so many fields of work and aspects of society that its basically suited for the Renaissance Man (which I strive to be). I actually don’t even care about money, ironically. I just love the process of interdisciplinary thinking that it takes to make the money, which isn’t all that bad I guess. I have to think about the technical finances, social trends, political factors, psychology, science, and history in order to be good at my passion for investing. By adding the writing minor, I can truly challenge the stereotype that people that like finance scoff at the value of liberal arts degrees and the importance of artistic expression. And I can challenge the stereotype that liberal arts degrees are useless in modern times and have no concrete value in society. Well now that I’m done with the calculated part of this blog, I guess I can just do chaotic and messy lists all over for fun.

Things I can talk Endlessly About

Sports -> I basically follow every single sport and have played a bunch of organized sports. I am so obsessed with making sure that I am up-to-date with every sports league that I’m basically a sports and statistics encyclopedia.

Favorite Teams -> LA Lakers, Indianapolis Colts (don’t bother asking why), NY Yankees, FC Barcelona, NJ Devils, and obviously Michigan

Sports I’ve Played on an actual team -> Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball (for Michigan too), Frisbee.

 

TV Shows

  • House of Cards
  • LOST
  • Game of Thrones
  • Dexter
  • Black Mirrors
  • The Walking Dead
  • House
  • The Crown
  • Sherlock
  • Master of None (Rip Aziz’s Career)
  • The Office
  • Parks and Rec
  • Friends
  • Stranger Things
  • Narcos
  • Breaking Bad
  • American Vandal
  • Daredevil
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Bojack Horseman

Damn I have no life

 

MUSIC (the one area I have no diversity in because I can only stand Rap and R&B)

TOP 10 HIP HOP/R&B Artists of this Generation (always changing)

  1. Kanye West
  2. Drake
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. Travis Scott
  5. J Cole
  6. ASAP Rocky
  7. The Weeknd
  8. Migos
  9. Frank Ocean
  10. Lil Uzi Vert

Albums currently guiding my life

  • HUNCO JACK, JACK HUNCO – Travis Scott, Quavo
  • Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight – Travis Scott
  • LUV IS RAGE 2, – Lil Uzi Vert
  • SATURATION III – BROCKHAMPTON
  • Enter the 36 Chambers – Wu-Tang Clan
  • Cozy Tapes Vol. II – A$AP Mob
  • Trilogy – The Weeknd
  • More Life – Drake
  • Nothing Was the Same – Drake
  • Say Less – Roy Woods
  • War & Leisure – Miguel
  • Double Or Nothing – Big Sean, Metro Booming
  • NO ONE EVER REALLY DIES – N.E.R.D
  • Pressure – Jeezy
  • El Gato: The Human Ice Glacier – Gucci Mane
  • DAMN – Kendrick Lamar

 

Politics and Economics

  • There’s no list, unfortunately, but I had a great time making lists for some reason.
  • Anything political or related to markets is interesting to me

 

Basic Information

  • Hometown: Edison, New Jersey
  • Height: 5’8 on cloudy days, 6’2 on sunny days
  • Family: Mom, Dad, Two Sisters (31 and 35), and a Parrot that is now bilingual