Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hip Hop is Dead

As a middle-aged, Caucisian in my sophmore year of college, I come into contact with many issues I feel I must reflect upon. There are of course the givens such as the War on Iraq, Global Warming, and various others. One in particular deals with hip-hop.

As strange as it may sound the music I listen to the most is hip-hop. The hip-hop music I am accustomed to and greatly favor is something that is dying every second.

I generally like to listen to rap music where the artist fills his rhymes with music that touches on a person's personal life. So is not all hip-hop music like that? What is so different about today's music with Tupac's, Nas's, and Emimen's?

I will explain.

The great majority of music made by rappers today deal with nothing more than drugs, sex, and cars. Now I am not here to say Tupac and Nas did not have their share of songs that fell into that generic hole as well.

But I know for certain that Tupac specifically made an effort where a great majority of his songs had a deep meaning behind them. Rapping about how you get all the girls, or how you make so much money is not meaningful. Rapping about the difficult childhood you had, or the pain of not having a father around is.

Why?

Lower-class children do not have all the material items we may have. The radio is a child living in the projects world. When he hears Young Joc on the radio rapping about having sex with numerous women, what message does that send?

Every rap musician out there had a difficult life growing up. That's a given. To understand what these people have had to live through is something we, a suburban listener, can not fully understand.

But still as someone who had a rough childhood, would you not want to reach out and help those children who are in the exact situation you use to be in? Would you not want to make their childhood less painful than the one you had?

That's the problem. Musician today are not taking responsibility for the influences they cast upon the youth, so in turn the music suffers and the industry suffers. I have worked with children who lived in low-income housing in New Orleans. I have seen with my own eyes the worshipping they show towards today's musicians. Some of these kids do not listen to their parents, they listen to what Lil Wayne, Young Joc, or Ludacris say in their songs.

I want to one day talk to someone like Lil Wayne and just ask him what he thinks about the 10 year old kid living on the streets who wants to get a gun because his idol has one?

Tupac in turn, made music that provided hope for that child living in the ghetto, the one who just dropped out of school, the one with no father. Various examples are Changes, Still I Rise, The Good Die Young, Dear Mama, and so on. He was someone today's youth could look up. He was someone that in a way was a helping hand.

People recognize the basic rap floating around nowadays. Sure rap music is still everywhere, but it is losing that viewer who listened to it for the content such as me. Rap was intellectual. It was deep.

Just try and tell me "I've got ho's in different area codes" is an intellectual statement Mr. Ludacris? It isn't.

All in all, hip-hop use to be something that was special in it's own unique way...especially to the black community.

It should not have to be like this. But it is. Money is the only thing that matters. Not quality, money. So when Young Joc comes out with a new CD talking about drugs, sex, and money, just shun in shame. This is not what hip-hop was. This is what it's been poisoned into.

1 comment:

Black Rob said...

Interesting topic choice.

Couple things...
1)Not every rap/hip-hop artist had a tough life growing up.
See example: Kanye West

2)Just because it is not mainstream does not mean the hip-hop you are talking about is dead. Nas, Common, Mos-Def, Kanye, and many others continue to put out thought-provoking and meaningful music. True, not all of it, especially in Kanye's case, may be such. But let's get serious, not all of Tupac's was either. Thug Passion? Sorry, not exactly Pulitzer Prize winning content there.

3)I understand what you mean by it, but you have to be careful calling Tupac "someone kids could look up to." Just because he rapped about slightly deeper issues than putting dubs on his whip, doesn't change the fact that he was a known gangbanger at the very least at some point, and repeatedly rapped about and glorified violence on the streets - the very same streets these kids are growing up on.