Alright, for this weeks entertainment section we kick off the month’s theme of black history with a favorite song of mine. Fight the Power by Public Enemy.
This song was from a time where minorities felt and were oppressed by the government that the believed in. What I’m going to talk about isn’t the time that passed but the time we live in now. Hip hop music like this helped to define an era and a race for not just the black minority but for everyone. The question I wish to pose is- what the fuck happened?!
I’m gonna get personal with this and get into a story from my life that i’m sure alot of people have heard before. When I ask people “what kind of music do you listen to” the typical response is “a little bit of everything, except rap…I can’t stand rap”. Now I am a fan of classical hip hop and it saddens me on the behalf of not just my race (I’m black by the way) but on behalf of the artform itself. I believe that hip hop is a beautiful artform and when tastefully expressed it can deliver a powerful message while entertaining the people.When given the answer “I dont listen to rap” my response is that it’s probably because “you’ve never listened to real hip hop before, you need to listen to the old school guys”. Relate to me if you’ve had a similar conversation with someone and it ends up leading to you finding out that they like old school hip hop and hate rap for the following reasons.
- It’s an ignorant, irritating bunch of noise
- No originality
- lack of content
- I can’t stand it!
- degrading to women (this is a big one)
- too profane (another big one)
- can’t relate to it
If you haven’t noticed while reading I make an effort to define the old school music as hip hop and the new stuff as rap. I, Poison, define hip hop as the art form that took its roots in african culture and evolved from there as a form of self expression for the oppressed minority and ,of current, anyone who wishes to express themself through an easily accessible form of music. I define Rap as the result of the ‘industry’ corruption of something good. If anything ,Rap is the evil twin to hip hop, both are valid forms of poetic expression but one has substance and form while the other has nothing of good offering.
The fact is that when listening to this genre of music one needs to make sure that what they’re listening to is either hip hop or rap. My personal criteria for defining something as hip hop or rap goes as follows…
- can I effectively relate to it or is it all Hollywood glamourized? If I can relate to it then it might be hip hop and if it’s all Hollywood cars, girls and glam then it’s rap
- Does the song talk about issues concerning everyone or just the artist? This can be an iffy one since the artist can be talking about them self but the problem can concern everyone but if the problem is something superficial like cars, girls and glam then it’s rap.
- Is it original? This question is something to ask for all art but this goes all too true for rap. The problem with people involved in the rap industry is that the style and flavor of the artist is toned down in order to reach a wider audience and sell. This doesn’t just happen in the rap industry but an example would be in the case of Avril Lavigne- she completely sold out those of you who loved her.
Everything after that is based solely on personal taste. Questons about the beat and how they flow are all opinion but the first three questions have to be answered before I continue to actually ‘listen’ to the song. I say ‘listen’ since I do sometimes listen to rap but i’m not ‘listening’ to it since there’s no message to it or anything important. In most cases i’m listening to the beat and i’m just too lazy to go out and find the instrumental for the song i’m listening to.
Now for two big issues in hip hop music which are language and treatment of women.
In the beginning hip hop was not like this. It was created with the purpose of empowerment for EVERYONE and that included women. It wasn’t until later on, around the early 90’s, during the advent of gangster hip-hop where things went out of hand.
Know that I have nothing against the gangster genre of hip hop from that era since I know that the area where it was born in was surrounded by that kind of influence. Gangster hip hop was a byproduct of a bad breeding ground thus why it had so much anger but it had the one thing that made it REAL hip hop. The fact that it was real and the people who listened could relate. Gangster rap is the runoff of that era. It comes from artists who desperately try to cling to what’s not there anymore or not as prevalent. Somehow, it sells but not as well as it used to.
As for the use of profane language in hip hop, that was always around but profane language and music have been accomplices as long as I’ve been alive. Artists were employing the use of shocking language in order to sell records a long time ago. The fact is that they do have to sell the records they make, mainstream or otherwise, and the shock value of profane words does appeal to some people.
Finally, i’m going to end this with a question- What do you think about the state of hip hop today? Is it dead, is it alive, do we need to go out and kill it? I think that hip hop is alive but not doing well. Thanks to the trouble caused by the rap industry and it promotion of horrible values through the use of its wretchedly similar doppelganger, Rap. What we need to do is kill Rap and cut the crap. When that’s done then good, original, mindful and empowering hip hop can take its rightful place with the rest of the good music out there.
Entertain me with your thoughts