The assassination of hip hop

Society & Culture | By Ryan Chokureva, Graphic Designer | 23 June 2013
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

There was a stage when hip hop lived, thriving in the streets, in the spirits of the ghetto children, embedded in veins and souls, just like the blues used to be to plantation slaves. There was a time when hip hop music was a conscience, the canvases that the ghetto masses painted their everyday graffiti, sent out messages of hope, resistance, injustice. There was a time too when hip hoppers were artists, not just performers, their impressions were lasting and they had substance. Love was not sex and verses were not mere preschool rhymes repeated over some beat. There was also a time when hip hop artists where people of substance away from the stage and without a mic in their hand they still spoke and people would listen, they carried weight, they just did not speak off the game they where the game. Yes hip hop has a violent history, but so did the actors and players of it, and generations before them bore the scars of generous lashes, on both mental and physical scapes. It was not violent just to be entertaining it was violent because it was necessary.
 
There is a reason why now there has been a blow up of comic artist, preschool rhymers, pretenders, bling blingers and less and less rappers of substances. There is a reason that artist and groups such as Rakim, Mos Deff, Common, Nas, Kweli, Dead Prez and so many others have mainly remained street legends and have never made it into the “limelights” they should have. There is a reason that the likes of Jay, Lil wayne, 50 have corroded and eroded and to be fair entertained so many of us on probably the biggest stages of all. That one main reason is Uncle Sam, it is the corporate media guru, the politician who knows the power of true spoken word, it is also sadly the uniformed “We” that continues to get diluted whilst uploading.

When the oppressed speak, the oppressed listen, think, aspire and demand. When change is stimulated action follows and systems are questioned and brought crumbling. The system always knows the best way to keep the oppressed, oppressed is to use a select of the oppressed to keep the minds of the rest off their oppression, hence entertainment. Shallow minds that feed on shallow remain shallow, if you change their diet you risk a rebellion. This is why 50c can rhyme about rims, diamonds chains soo much that a child growing up is limited to thinking if are young and black, the best way to get paid is well, to rap about shallow things and entertain. No one tells them that for all his proposed riches 50c, is just well no one in the money tree, his not at all what young black youth should be aiming at, in terms of earnings.
 
There is a reason why MTV, and such consistently promote the lesser form of rap music that degrades women, undercuts our ideals and vision as black people. Why shallow lyrics like my “lip glossy” can be a whole song that gets air play. There is a reason why songs like Jadakiss’s “Why” were bared and the media did not voice its concern over censorship, the same reason why social conscious and intelligent rap music remains underground and one of the most difficult forms of art to get, because as long as they are underground, the ordinary man can't get the blinkers they move around with knocked off.
 
The truth is. its not enough to be entertained if you are not informed. It is not enough to accept normal before you question and accept the parameters of what normal is. It is not enough to accept gangsterism, the chaos and the social degradation that comes with it when you have a better vision and capability of your self. It is not enough to be happy being stagnant when you can change and be better. The saddest thing is that our women have accepted being strippers, wh*&%s, (naked) video dancers as a normal way of making money, without challenging nor seeking change, so their daughters who grow up in hoods where this mom is stripper and that lady dancer have really no aspiration for getting a solid education. Teachers, doctors and intelligent people do not make television as much nor are they paid as much. It is sad that a person pretending to be a teacher, in a movie thats one one hour long can earn in one production more money than a real life teacher who works everyday to teach on children can in 5 life times.
 
Any real movement has checks and balances, there are no checks and balances now... or let me see, may be just the checks. When Tupac started challenging the norms of how black people were viewed and how laws were applied selectively , he was checked. When Jadakiss, asked “Why” he was checked. We would rather give an award to Eminen for disrespecting his mother, to the Three Six Mafia for selling us lyrical porn and words that after the track has stopped playing there isn’t one word of reason.

The system rewards and promotes a culture of stupid black man, 20yr, 30yr olds who spend the whole day at home playing play station, that other 30yr olds created and are get millions of dollars for. A generation that puts television sets in their cars ”pimp my ride” when they come from a hood where people don't even have enough buses to get to and from work. The system would rather create young rappers who spend half their album advances on a platinum or diamond chains. Rappers who make 1million and run around trying to outspending Bill Gates. The voices that should question and check the balance between entertainment and information in the meantime remain buried underground, far away from the ears that they should influence, until…until the oppressed remain oppressed thinking they are getting ahead.
 
I remember in the height of the Jay Zee vs Nas beef, Jay attacking Nas for wanting to seem and rap about knowledge, that should never be a weakness. Why would an educate young man or women buy a track that talks about my rims, I have soo many Bi*&%s and wh*#@s, my money is so long, where do they come into all of that. We need to have our own record distributing studios that do both entertain and inform. That offer an alternative to the booty shaking, sex selling performers to the more moderate likes still have some semblance of moral values and that money can still be made with your clothes on. Artist that still believe that sexy need not be sex, nor need it be graphic, there is a reason I can listen to “sexual healing” by Marvin Gaye with my mom in the room or in the same car and I can't do the same to Ying Yang Twins. It is in 50c, Lil Wayne and every other hip hoppers advantage to have more kids in school, graduating that way more and more of their fans will actually afford their music and to go to their shows, that might be hard looking at how so many of these artist lack soo much in that regard themselves.

Lastly Africa needs to be very careful what we adapt, what we encourage and promote, already im seeing a generation that is ignorantly blind and is so tv educated we risk producing an unwanted number of hood hangers, stereotyped youth who do not view women past the value of sexual objects and any form of employment a punishment. Peeple who would rather be at the mall than in school. There is nothing wrong with referring to a body as booty, freedom of expression right, as long as we have an understanding of the mental seed of what that is planting, what it is that word is classifying, is it saying beautiful, sexy or f*&$%ble. Words stimulate thoughts, thoughts shape up who we are, who we are shapes up our society, our society creates a culture, and in all of that our lives, so maybe its not that silly a thing to be selective and responsible for what we listening to, both in creating and consuming.