Gene Simmons is not happy with the pop charts. “I am looking forward to the death of rap,” the Kiss singer and reality-TV star tells Rolling Stone. “I’m looking forward to music coming back to lyrics and melody, instead of just talking. A song, as far as I’m concerned, is by definition lyric and melody … or just melody.”
Simmons shared the opinion during an interview about the 40th anniversary of Kiss’ Destroyer, bemoaning the current state of the music industry at large. “I hate the Internet,” he says. “I make a living, but to be a new band now and just give out your music for free, it’s the crime of the century.” He ascribed the state of the music industry to what he feels is a lack of superstars.
The roots of hip-hop, in his opinion, date back to the Sixties. “I’m all for anybody talking,” he says. “‘Wild Thing’ was talking: ‘Wild thing, she makes my heart sing/ she makes everything … .’ There’s no melody there. That’s cool. Napoleon XIV, ‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!’ That’s a funny song, but those are novelty records. So was Dickie Goodman and ‘Mr. Jaws.’ These were all hits, by the way. But predominantly, music is about melody and lyric, whether it’s rap or doo-wop, or yeah, even rock.
“As far as I’m concerned, rock is dead,” he continues. “There ain’t no new bands. Foo Fighters, I love ’em, but they’re a 20-year-old band. These are long-in-the-tooth bands: Nirvana, Pearl Jam. They’re old bands.”
“If Lady Gaga dropped the disco and the pole dancing and all that stuff and put together a rock band, that would be legitimate.”
Then he recapitulated his theme. “Rap will die,” he says. “Next year, 10 years from now, at some point, and then something else will come along.
When asked whether or not he likes rap at all, he says he thinks it’s OK. “I don’t have the cultural background to appreciate being a gangster,” he says. “Of course that’s not what it’s all about, but that’s where it comes from. That’s the heart and soul of it. It came from the streets.”
Didn’t rap come from the same New York streets at the same time as Kiss? “Sure, but other than Kiss, which plays stadiums around the world, there’s no other New York band that was ever able to do that,” he says. “New York, for all its cultural impact hardly produced any rock bands at all.
Simmons has previously spoken about his distaste for rap music. When Kiss were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, he questioned the way the institution picked its inductees. “A few people decide what’s in and what’s not,” he told Radio.com. “And the masses just scratch their heads. You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me. That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing.”
(New York Post response – 12 April 2016)
As is so often the way with musicians who have drifted into irrelevance, the Kiss singer and bassist has made a spectacle of himself in recent weeks by mouthing off about things he doesn’t understand. Last month, he gave an interview in Rolling Stone in which he gleefully looked forward to “the death of rap.” Wishful thinking, considering a 2015 study by Spotify ranked hip-hop as the most listened to genre in the world.
But in recent days, Simmons has doubled down on his gassy ignorance. At their own induction at Barclays Center on Friday night, N.W.A. called out Simmons for his comments, while Ice Cube went on to succinctly explain that “rock ‘n’ roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and life. That is rock ‘n’ roll, and that is us.”
Simmons’ feeble response was to argue the place of Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin in the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. Let’s not worry too much about the fact that there isn’t a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame (although plans are afoot for something in Harlem).
Both artists have laid foundations for hip-hop’s rise to dominance. Jimmy Page’s creeping guitar on “Kashmir” provided the backbone of Schoolly D’s 1988 song “Signifying Rapper” and Puff Daddy’s 1998 smash “Come With Me.” Drummer John Bonham would probably earn a place in the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame by himself, considering how many times his work has been sampled. The earth-shaking sound of “When the Levee Breaks” is the first thing you hear on the Beastie Boys’ 1986 debut “Licensed to Ill” — one of the most successful hip-hop albums of all time. And that’s just one of dozens of examples.
Hendrix is also crucial to some of hip-hop’s finest moments. In particular, Mitch Mitchell’s drums on the 1967 track “Little Miss Lover” has given rise to a staple break, providing the punch on tracks like “Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest and the Leaders of the New School (1992), the much-bootlegged “Troopin’ on the Down Lo” by Jungle Brothers (1993), and the more recent “No. 99” by one of Malia Obama’s favorite rappers, Joey Bada$$ (2014).
As for Kiss themselves, it shouldn’t be forgotten that in 2014, they were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with a fiery, passionate speech from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine — a band that fused rap and rock with a power and potency that has never been bettered. If Gene Simmons knew what he was talking about, the 66-year-old would celebrate the connection between the two genres instead of haphazardly trying to separate them.
Gene Simmons is speaking from the perspective of a senior – 60+ individual, who mostly have the same view of hip hop, whether black, white or Asian. Older white people especially hope that hip hop is a passing fad. Their common view is that if a song does not have a tune – how can it be a song. Talking surely is not music.
The best rap artists combine a catchy tune, with good chorus, and rap the verses. Good examples of this are P. Diddy’s “I’ll be missing you” (from the original Police (rock group) anthem) and P. Diddy’s album with Diddy dirty money. The songs have a story, good lyrics, strong beat, beautiful singing and the rapping does not sound like an angry black man is cussing somebody.
However heavy, tuneless, offensive rap is big business also. Young people like music that their parents do not like. That has always been the way. Rock in its early days was also disliked (and sometimes banned) by an older generation.
The fusion between Rock and Rap has produced some amazing hits. Note – Walk this Way by Aerosmith and Run DMC (video below) This was the first biggest collaboration between two music genres and it rocked the music world.