“IT IS TIME THAT WE HOLD SOME OF THESE ARTISTS ACCOUNTABLE FOR WHAT THEY ARE DOING AND SAYING. WHERE’S THE MUSICALITY AND REAL LYRICISM?”
The influence of music is powerful. It was Lauryn Hill that made me want to read The Mis-education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson. Along with her raw and intellectually challenging content, she had an extensive vocabulary that she was not afraid to use in her songs. Because of her, I wanted to learn the meaning of words like: Defecate and reciprocity. She reigned during a time where it was cool to be conscious and informed. Intelligence was embraced and admired. Loving and paying attention to self was respected.
No one ever signs up to be a role model (unless if you’re Bill Cosby) but in certain things you are automatically thrust into that position whether you like it or not. Hip Hop is one of those things. How many children and even adults look up to these artists and aspire to be like them and/or the life that they portray? These Hip Hop artists are in a powerful position: They influence. For instance, rapper Rick Ross has just as many haters as he does followers. However, when he dropped his 2010 hit song, BMF (Blowing Money Fast) there were so many uniformed youngsters that took to Google to learn the story behind the names that he was referencing.
Who was Larry Hoover and Big Meech? Just the thought of people seeking out the answers to those questions because of that song shows the power of influence. Regardless if they are right or wrong, people aspire to be like a lot of these rappers. That means that if a rapper that they admire says something is cool, people are accepting of that and strive to emulate that “cool” Those who didn’t know about the GD’s or Black Mafia Family informed themselves because Ross was apparently up on them. That is fact.
Why choose to represent the stupid stuff when we clearly don’t have to? How did we get to a point where most popular Hip Hop artists seem to be good for is referencing drugs, violence, and sex to sell records? How can we call this garbage “music”? Don’t get me wrong, Hip Hop isn’t the only genre that has made such radical changes over time. Autotune and Melodyne has given hope to some of the most talentless critters walking the earth. As a result, a lot of the unheard, talented ones suffer. You can have the greatest gift in the world but if the industry doesn’t approve of how you look, you can’t have your dream.. What kind of mess is this?!?!?!?!?
Hip Hop is the genre that I feel compelled to address because it sits so closely to my heart. Watching the deterioration of this art form is an experience that has been very ugly and unlikable. It’s like being a mother and watching your baby go off the deep end. You and the child both know that they are capable of doing better yet they choose not to. It hurts to watch. All Hip Hop doesn’t have to be “fluff” or overly conscious. That is not my argument. I simply just do not understand how you go from absolute freedom and true artistic expression to sell records to popularity tactics such as: mumbling, zero-lyricism, grunting, and not saying ANYTHING… You mean to tell me that this is what people prefer to hear today?
Today, there is no such thing as discretion, and respect is totally out of the window. I’ve loved Hip Hop ever since I was a little girl. I knew my love was official when I first saw Shock G from Digital Underground perform “Humpty Hump”. I wanted to be just like him because he was so cool. He was really having honest fun in that crazy get-up that he was wearing.
As I grew older, I knew that it would be Hip Hop and me forever when I was exposed to a lady’s perspective. Salt n Pepper and Queen Latifah were my idols. It was because of those ladies that I knew I wanted to rap. I knew that a woman could compete in a male dominated sport and be just as good if not more impactful with the mic. There is just something about a raw feminine energy expressed in words over the right tunes. I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else in the world. True, Salt n Pepper were a bit racy but they were grown women, they handled themselves with class and respect. They never completely slutted-out to sell records.
As we approached the mid 90’s, more female artists began to come out and make that transition towards sex. The female rapper slowly began to steer away from lyricism. I was fascinated by the way artists like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah carried themselves.
When Queen Latifah wore her crown, I automatically respected her. Just seeing her display herself as a Hip Hop queen made me proud. Mind you, I felt like this and I was a little girl still green and innocent to life. When did we digress from this? When the Hip Hop sexual revolution hit, it was like, ” Okay… I see ya’…” Now it’s like, “Damn, I see ALLLLLLL of you…” Teasing the imagination no longer exists anymore. I’m not saying that female artists should be passive and submissive, they weren’t in the 80’s and 90’s. However, they should be more respectful of themselves and the images that they portray.
Seeing how powerful that Hip Hop has become, society’s future heavily depends on it. If hip hop weren’t so powerful, it wouldn’t be the soundtrack to most television commercials and even Disney Channel movies. Hip Hop was the genre that birthed classics like: U.N.I.T.Y, Ladies first, She Thang, and Poor Georgie. Since the corporations have gotten a hold of it, things have changed. I don’t like the state that we are in.