This honestly isn’t a question to bash all rap music, because I think rap music is a great source of inspiration and learning for youth, but my question focuses more on commercial rap music.
The only reason I ask this question is because we would have to be lying to ourselves if we denied the fact that a…
Is Hip Hop Destroying Black America?
To answer this question fairly, we must first discard the distorted image of Hip Hop that mainstream media has passed off for the past 20 years. Hip Hop is a movement consisting of 4 main artistic elements: DJ’ing, Rapping, Breaking and Graffiti. But at its core, it is a philosophy based on the idea that self expression is an integral part of the pursuit of peace, love and unity. It was created by young visionaries who tapped into their greatest potential and gave birth to one of the most important cultural phenomenon the world has ever seen. Shaped by the spirit of Africa, The Carribean and Black America, it is a culture that binds us under the belief that we must strive for excellence through our respective artforms, as well as within our souls. It’s a lifestyle that unites people from the U.S to Nigeria, France to Brazil, Japan to Mexico, often unable to speak each other’s language but fully capable of understanding all that makes us who we are. True Hip Hop is the MC who raps from the heart or enlightens the people. It is the DJ who speaks with his hands. It is the 6 year old B-girl who break dances like her life depends on it or a group of young dancers whose moves defy gravity effortlessly. It is the graffiti artist whose shapes and colors breathe new life onto gritty city landscapes or the beatboxer who manipulates sounds like a one-man orchestra. It’s the aspiring politician who genuinely reflects the people she represents, the progressive educators who give voiceless youth a platform to express their deepest thoughts and the grassroots activists who launch campaigns against a corrupt music industry. For millions of people here and abroad, this is Hip Hop, the way it was meant to be…and it is NOT destroying Black America.
If this doesn’t sound like the kind of Hip Hop you’re familiar with, blame the music industry and mainstream media for bombarding you with a steady diet of rappers talking about drugs, sex and violence for over two decades. Blame MTV, BET, and other networks for trying to redefine what Hip Hop is in order to sell it and shove it down the throats of unsuspecting consumers. It’s easy to blame simple minded rappers for promoting negative messages and images while multi billion dollar companies and shrewd businessmen who market these artists are free from criticism. It’s easy to blame someone like Chief Keef who becomes the obvious poster boy for mindless rap while Jimmy Iovine, the head of Interscope Records, keeps a low profile and avoids having to address his part in promoting “death through entertainment”. It’s easy to protest flavor of the month Trinidad James who raps about Molly, the industry’s latest fashionable drug, while Def Jam’ president Joie Manda proclaims his new discovery as “the cutting edge of what’s happening in the culture today.” It’s easy to blame talentless top 40 rappers for dominating the airwaves of so called hip hop radio stations like L.A.’s Power 106 or New York’s Hot 97 while Rick Cummings, president of programming for Emmis Communications, which owns both stations, isn’t held accountable for his part in broadcasting filth to millions of listeners.
Time and time again, the real decision makers get away with murder while rap artists are projected as the embodiment of everything that is wrong with Hip Hop and young Black males.
Kind of how gangs are perceived as the lone cause of urban violence while those who bring guns and drugs into the community remain anonymous.
Kind of how so many young Black men are written off as criminals and sent to prison in disproportionate numbers while the system that causes this tragedy is profiting from growing incarceration rates.
Kind of how Black students are labeled as troubled underachievers while school districts across the nation, including Philadelphia and Chicago, continue to close down schools in predominantly Black communities to save money.
And all of it devalues the lives of Black people in exchange for financial gain.
So is Hip Hop really destroying Black America? No. The challenges facing Black America are much bigger than Hip Hop. But for what it’s worth, when untainted by outside influences and corporate vultures, Hip Hop in its purest form is about empowerment, unity, culture, creativity and hope. And God knows we need it.
Hip Hop has moved away from the traditional focus of black music as an expression of life–black life; and has become focused on life style: consumerism, booze, jewelry, pornography, guns, violence towards women; and, as we have seen in the case of Little Wayne, a total ignorance, disregard and disrespect for black history! It represents the worse of our impulses, and is a aural virus that destroys the minds of black children, even before they enter school.
I was around when it started and I don’t like what I see & hear where the bulk of hip-hop is concerned. I think part of the problem is also rooted in the fact that they don’t teach music in the schools much anymore. Hip-hop at it’s inception had a basis in “REAL” music. Most of these rappers nowadays… apart from all their technology & industry hype… where REAL MUSIC is concerned… couldn’t rap their way out of a wet paper bag with a hole in the bottom. They have a shallow over-reliance on image & profane misogyny instead of any concrete sense of musicianship or lyrical content of actual substance. They re-work the same old tired ghetto-fab themes over & over again… and folks continue to buy that sh**t by the millions. But I can’t blame it all on the (so-called) artists (? what a joke!). The music buying public is a duped bunch of mindless musically illiterate sheep!
I don’t even listen to a lot of new music, i’m strictly 90’s R&B and Hip hop and anybody who knows me always jokes about that. There are some artists out that are great but don’t get the attention because they aren’t half naked dancing such as Jazmine Sullivan, Melanie Fiona, and Adele. For now I guess it’s whatever the people want, if people want rap and the stuff that is out today that is all the industry will produce, I hope that soon it will go back to actual vocalists singing and belting out notes.
I will start by saying, my view on this is that of a Police Officer. It is more than music, it is the “hood” culture. It extends to all races in poor economic areas, were kids are raised by single parents that either work non-stop or are drug using loosers, in either case, these kids have no real supervision or role models. Idle hands are the devils playground so to speak. Where I work we have started several programs like getting kids into organized sports where they can learn teamwork and hardwork. Its a horrible cycle that is difficult to break. “Hustling” is cool to a teenager, but they dont see that it leads to a road of homelessness, stealing and drug addiction. Sorry, probably way off topic.
On the contrary, groups like NWA popularized Gangster Rap to draw attention to the fact that problems in the black communities were being ignored by the white media.
Just about all categories of music talk about sex, drugs, money, killing, partying and all that type stuff not just rap. You’re just being influenced by the media there are as many uneducated, concerned about being cool, getting caught up with mainstream ignorant whites or any other race as there are blacks.
I was looking for an answer on this too