Why Keith Richards Says Hip-Hop 'Don't Grab' Him

Opinions are curious things. While we all have them, we take a range of different approaches. Some are content to enjoy their own feelings and tastes unaffected by people's thoughts on their opinions. Others seem to be convinced that the louder and more vociferously they express their opinions, the more sway they should carry with others.

In our always-online world, it can be difficult to escape from the thoughts and opinions of others. The higher-profile somebody is, the truer this becomes. Sometimes, though, it's interesting to get an authority's view on a given subject — in the world of music, someone like Keith Richards, perhaps. The Rolling Stones guitar icon continues to make history with the band, which is remarkable in and of itself.

Classic rock, for instance, could certainly be considered Richards' jam, considering that he made a significant amount of it himself. In as wide-ranging an arena as music, though, nobody can be an expert in everything. When it comes to hip-hop, the Stones legend is absolutely out of his milieu.

Rapping about rap

There's quite the misconception that people can be too young or too old for given bands, musicians, or genres. A teenager today may be a little wary of exhorting the virtues of Elvis Presley to their friends, for instance, and you probably wouldn't expect to hear the dulcet tones of the King emanating from their earbuds. That's where those pesky opinions come in, though. We should like what we like, unfettered by any trivial concerns.

Right along with that, of course, comes not liking what we don't like, and there's the rub. Some musicians are more inclined to express their dislikes than others. Rap, often deemed an acquired taste, can crop up in that discussion. As the ever-vocal Liam Gallagher put it to Brut (via Facebook) in September 2019, "they're selling loads of records, even the rap stars ... but they're boring ..."

Keith Richards, too, doesn't appear to have much time for hip-hop. For similar reasons, too, though he elaborates a little more than the Oasis legend did on that particular occasion, telling the New York Daily News in 2015, "What rap did that was impressive was to show there are so many tone-deaf people out there. All they need is a drum beat and somebody yelling over it and they're happy. There's an enormous market for people who can't tell one note from another."

'So many words, so little said'

As British comedian Bill Bailey once put it during a live performance (via beanzontoast2 on YouTube), "vast swathes of rap ... don't appeal to me ... I just get very bored with all that ... constant relentless bragging." Of course, he's exaggerating for the joke's sake, and it's folly to dismiss an entire musical genre in such a way. Bailey isn't alone, however, in seeking something deeper and more meaningful from this brand of music.

Rolling Stone reported that in 2007, Richards was in fine form and eager to discuss his displeasure with rap and hip-hop and the genres' perceived aggression. "Hip-hop leaves me cold," he said, going on to acknowledge the musical style's expansion and success but seemingly admitting that he just couldn't comprehend it either: "There are some people out there who think it's the meaning of life ... I don't wanna be yelled at; I wanna be sung to ... As I say, it don't grab me." According to the New York Daily News, he summarized rap music as "so many words, so little said." 

The first part of that statement certainly seems to be true. After all, Eminem holds the record for most words in a hit single, as Guinness World Records reports. His 2013 smash "Rap God" is 1,560 words long, and he gets through them all in just barely over six minutes.