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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hip-Hop VS. America

Ever since Hip-Hop came into existence, its always been under fire. The question is not why, it's how come it has. The answer, because it's not just a music genre, it's a whole culture and movement attached to it. In recent years, it has grown exponentially and extended far beyond any Hip-Hop founding MCees' expectations. We see more Hip-Hop Artists in movies now than ever before, we see them building empires, influencing fashion and style and well, even the definition of 'cool'.

So, how come a creative medium of expression that began as a grass roots movement, which developed and flourished so successfully, is constantly under attack and seemingly always under the microscope of micro-analyzing critics? Is it the offensive language and how it diminishes women, the aggression in the content, the imagery of excessive materialism it proposes to our youth and the harsh depiction of current day under- developed neighborhoods of America that's to blame? Is it the MCees fault? Who's responsible for what is being diffused to our children? Are the parents to blame for not safeguarding their young ones from viewing such material? Really, why is America looking to blame Hip-Hop for the flaws of its infrastructure?

Think about it. Did violence exist before Hip-Hop? Of course, how do you think the United States of America came to Exist, by fighting for liberation from the British Empire. So, if violence existed before Hip-Hop, what about vulgarity and sexual profanity, did those exist too before? Open a history book, read up brother man or sister lady, yes they did. In no way, shape or form did Hip-Hop CREATE violence, prostitution or racism. Last time I checked, it was the white Masters who called their slaves 'Niggers', so who's to blame for that word? Rappers? Or the ones that imbedded that word into the minds of the Afro-American male or female? Man, these are questions that answer themselves so how come the media somehow always finds a way to point the finger at Hip-Hop?

We come full circle. The reason why Hip-Hop is America's scapegoat, is because it depicts the truth of America's streets, perhaps a bit exaggerated, nonetheless it is not far from the reality many have to face every morning, ever day, for the rest of their lives.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not playing devil's advocate, but giving you my opinion not from an MC's point of view, but from a Human Being's point of view ya diiggzz?! Although, I do not advocate having to use profanity to make a song a hit, I also understand where most of Gangsta Rappers come from. One such MC is a veteran in the game and one of the pioneers of the Gangsta Rap genre, I am of course talking about Ice Cube. Now, most people would think by listening to his tracks that he promotes violence and brutality against the police, but all the brother is saying is: Don't take shit lying down, stand up for yourself, defend yourself if you have to and if it is necessary, given no other alternative, than violence is your last option. Thing is, it is not easy to convey that sort of message to extremely conservative individuals who will automatically associate his words in a negative way because they come across as such. It takes an open mind willing to decipher and analyze the lingo, which is known as ebonics a.k.a. street talk, in order to understand that such-and-such Rap Artist is speaking from personal experience.

Another great example is Tupac Shakur. His songs depicted various struggles found commonly in the ghettos of America, from teenage pregnancy, single mothers, women who disrespect themselves for money, to the gangs that run the streets and the unfavorable conditions a lot of under privileged family still have to live through. Is he to blame for the violence in America? Is he to blame for lunatic kids that shoot up schools? Is he to blame for the crime rate? No. He is a spokesperson of those who have no choice, but to do whatever they can to survive, because sometimes -if not, most times- the 'system' doesn't give them a better alternative. Listen carefully to his words, dig beyond the 'N' words, the 'B' words and any other offensive word, and you'll hear a message that says: This is what's going on in the streets, these are the symptoms, what are we gonna do about it??? He did what he did because he had to represent the struggle of every day Afro-Americans in America.

Now, it's been a decade since Pac's passing (Rest In Paradise, breddren), and it seems like Hip-Hop has digressed from being an art form of self expression, into meaningless commercial propaganda. How Come? Who are the one's signing MCees and giving them multi-million record deals in exchange for promoting such mind-numbing nonsense? When a corporation is hurting financially, who is/are the one(s) responsible? The CEO? The Board of Directors? The Stock holders? The employees? The consumer? The Anwer: All of the Above. There are way too many factors to consider, and the blame is distributed amongst each party involved. It could be the consumer's because the economy is slowing down and they're just spending less. It could be the Stock holder's who are less eager to buy more shares. It could be the Board of Directors for mishandling funds. It could be employees because they are over worked and under paid so they are less courteous to consumers as a result. It could also be the CEO who's not a keen decision maker.

Point being, America should blame America for its problems, not Hip-Hop, not Terrorists, not Arabs, not anyone else but itself. Hip-Hop is just a reflection of what's going on, that's it, that's all. Sure, they can cut out all the profanity, but why can't Hollywood cut out all the sexual imagery from its movies? See where I'm getting at. The problem is bigger than Hip-Hop, it starts at home, it starts within each and every American, and what each expects out of their government, their education system, their media coverage, their neighborhood's protection and well being, and how far are they going to go to make that CHANGE possible.

Blaming is something we do as children 'Mommy, look what so-and-so did to me!'. That's gotta stop. Accepting responsibilities and our duties as men and women, and our obligations towards our youth is what's more important and what needs to be focused on... and that's how your going to 'fix' the so-called problems that Hip-Hop depicts. End. Of. Story.


Here are some Vidz to consider in regards to this debate. Peace & Maximum Blessingz.
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