Hearing Words in Rap Music

With my severe hearing loss I have difficulty hearing the words in many songs and many genres of music but rap is by far the most difficult for this 77 year old white male. Am I unique?

Rap is not music and has very little to do with music other than rhythm.


In my case, I can hear words, but I cannot hear music any longer… :cry:

No. You’re definitely not.

Rap/hip-hop for us 70s white males is akin to speech with a foreign accent in loud noise, the most severe hearing challenge.


There’s words? :slight_smile:
I’ve never really been able to make out all words in most popular music genres. So I resort to listening to the singer as carrying the melody. Other than bits here and there and putting it together I have no real clue what they’re saying. So I like rock instrumentals, guitar solos, jazz fusion, jazz, definitely drum solos and I’m always focused on the percussion/drums in all music. Not that synthetic crap. Good ol’ analog drums. Classical is too slow for my liking. Ode to Joy brings me to tears every time though.

So no…I would say not unique too. I’m with brec.

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You are not by yourself concerning understanding the words.
Rap music/culture is almost a separate language from English.

I could be wrong, but I vaguely remember that, back in the day, “old people” had problems understanding the lyrics of Elvis songs and the like. That was not a problem I ever had. I can still sing the old Elvis songs. And yesterday, we had Alexa playing Doo Wop, and I amazed my spouse by singing the lyrics and doing all those high falsetto thingies as well. But…fast forward, I have no clue what’s in the lyrics of the stuff that “kids these days” listen to. I see them singing along, so I imagine that they do understand the lyrics…or perhaps they looked them up on the internet, which wasn’t an option in the golden days of Elvis and his cohort.

My guess is that no one over the age of 40 or 50 has a clue about rap lyrics, whether or not they have decent hearing. I’ll check with my musician son.

I enjoy the oldies because I know the words and can fill in the blanks that are not understood.

Just the past 8-10 months with the newer frequency lowering technology of Phonak have I been able to hear music.

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I think most of us realize by now that we hear so few of the words that are spoken in conversation and in music that we always depend on recognition and context to fill in what we don’t hear.

My son listens to rap/hip-hop extensively, and I often let him play it in the car just to keep track of what he’s feeding himself musically. The slang, jargon, accents, and slurred styles are so extreme that it’s a miracle if I hear anything in the lyrics besides the recognizable iconic profanity. Recognition is blurred by the music and the accents, and the slang severely erodes the ability to construct context.

He and I have a running battle about playing songs that have profuse profanity, misogyny, and African-American [self-] degradation; he picks the songs to play that have lyrics so obscured by the above issues that I neglect to hear the negative aspects.

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Yes hearing words can be very difficult. I don’t also find that when an album has been remastered it can be almost worse. Like more emphasis was placed on instruments and the vocals are completely washed out. It just makes me wonder because there are also times when the vocals come through fine. Of course I struggle with anything nee
E so we’re talking about music from when I was in my teens and 20s when I could still hear fairly well. I don’t miss not hearing rap and have no desire to hear rap. Remember when scratching a needle on a record was supposed to be a bad thing?

If you knew what the lyrics in rap “music” said, you would not want to hear them.


Hey I “hear you!” I listen to MC Solaar Pandora radio station, it’s mostly in French so I enjoy the beat/melody and not worry about understanding the words.

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I guess I must be really, really old. Rap to me is a bunch of swear words and threats of violence strung together with loud noises in the background. Not for me! But if you play me melodies and lyrics written by the likes of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Learner and Lowe and Rogers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin and so on, I am listening as well as I can.


I really miss vinyl for lots of reasons. One of the reasons is that you got lovely big album covers with the lyrics (usually) printed on the back. But yeah, hip-hop lyrics aren’t generally what I need to know anyway. There’s one glaring exception courtesy of Grandmaster Flash. “Don’t push me 'cause I’m close to the edge…”

Edit: https://genius.com/Grandmaster-flash-and-the-furious-five-the-message-lyrics

Catching the lyrics in rap is difficult for normal hearing people as well. Experience probably counts.

There is poetry and politics and rhythm and jazz in rap if you find the right stuff, I’m sure. Certainly there’s a lot of awful stuff, but that’s true of pretty much all musical genres. I’m not a rap person, but I wouldn’t want to dismiss an entire genre, an entire culture. I think a lack of appreciation often comes from a lack of access, exposure, and understanding.


You’re absolutely right Neville. One thing that hearing loss does to me is drive me back to what I know. If I listen to something I used to listen to as a teenager or younger adult, then memory fills in some of the blanks where there used to be music. So if you add that musical conservatism to a lack of experience with that culture, I don’t think I’ll ever be a hip-hop person. It’s not the fault of the music.

Lucky I’ve got a lot of other genres in my life I can fall back on. Rumba Congolais anyone?


Reading the comments here is making me roll my eyes, in particular the ones about rap “not being music”. Com’on, everyone, let’s be civil here and rationale.

Not all rap music is good, and a lot has poorly chosen wording with excessive cursing. That doesn’t make the entire genre bad. There are so many good rap songs out there, with fantastic lyrics, it’s impossible to keep track.

It’s as if you’re forgetting all the horrible lyrics in classic popular music. Examples:

  • “Kung fu fighting” from mid 70s is straight up racist talking about the “chinaman”.

  • “Under my thumb” and “brown sugar” by the Stones. Don’t get me started.

  • “Tonight’s the night” by rod Stewart. Can this be any more creepy and cringeworthy talking about young girl virgins just letting go? Ugh.

I’ll get off my soap box now.


How do you enable frequency lowering for Phonak? Is it an installable program?

Frequency lowering technology in Phonak is called Sound Recover. The Belong and Marvel generations have a better frequency lowering technology called Sound Recover 2.
Sound Recover is part of the software. To enable it you just need to select a box in global tuning. It is very adjustable in the fine tuning section.
Good luck