Keith Richards: Rap Is for 'Tone-Deaf People'

"All they need is a drum beat and somebody yelling over it and they’re happy," Rolling Stones guitarist says

Keith Richards said rap was for "tone-deaf people" and blasted Metallica and Black Sabbath as "great jokes" in a new interview Credit: Thomas Peter /Reuters

Keith Richards said rap was for "tone-deaf people," blasted heavy metal, rock and the Beatles, and offered his interviewer a toke during a meandering chat with the New York Daily News.

While Richards did not hold back — saving his harshest musical critiques for hip-hop — Daily News reporter Jim Farber noted the guitarist "follows every put-down with a wink."

Still Richards was quick to crack, "Rap — so many words, so little said." He added: "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."

This isn't the first time the guitarist has expressed displeasure for the genre. Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2007, he said, "Hip-hop leaves me cold. But 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. I never really understood why somebody would want to have some gangster from L.A. poking his fingers in your face. As I say, it don't grab me. I mean, the rhythms are boring; they're all done on computers."

In the new interview, other supposedly more melodic genres were not spared either. Speaking on heavy metal, Richards said: "Millions are in love with Metallica and Black Sabbath. I just thought they were great jokes."

And as for good old rock and roll: "It sounds like a dull thud to me," Richards said. "For most bands, getting the syncopation is beyond them. It’s endless thudding away, with no bounce, no lift, no syncopation."

On that point, he elaborated a bit later while talking about his upcoming solo LP Crosseyed Heart, as well as how his interplay with Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts helped him foster his signature guitar style. "Why don't you just shut up and let the fucking thing groove," Richards said. "That's the problem with most guitar players. They can't shut up. They’re playing fantastic stuff but if you don't give it some room, you're not going to appreciate it. It becomes a 'me-me' ego."

Elsewhere, Richards returned to the Stones' old British invasion rivals, the Beatles. Recently, the guitarist told Esquire the band's seminal 1967 LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was "a mishmash of rubbish, kind of like like Satanic Majesties — 'Oh, if you can make a load of shit, so can we.'"

Richards added to the Daily News that he was also unimpressed with the Beatles' famed 1965 concert at Shea Stadium: "As a band, they weren’t in sync with each other." Still, Richards said he remained a fan a bit longer, but, "When it got to [seeing the guru] Maharishi [in 1967], I gave up."

Despite all the jabs, Richards remained charming and gregarious. When asked about his pot use, the guitarist replied, "Would you like some?" Richards said he smokes regularly and called weed "just a lift. It gives you a slightly different perception of your surroundings. To me, pot is just fun. And I’m glad to see the rest of the country is coming around to my way of seeing things."

Crosseyed Heart is slated for release on September 18th. It marks Richards' first solo LP since 1992's Main Offender.