quote:Originally posted by EbonyRose:
It took a couple of readings to digest all you wrote So forgive my delay in responding to it!
And I'm sure down the line I will have additional questions, but for now let me just give this comment.
The first truth that was most profound in your post was that my generation did indeed drop the baton while trying to pass it to yours. The guidance you need is not there for you, not being told where to go or how to get there. Which, I suspect is the reason why your generation has ended up where it has.
I think what I find most disturbing, though, is that many of the young people seem to thing that they have ended up in a good place. Success, money, economic/social power is good ... but how you get it and what you do with it is also part of the equation. In the lyrics you posted, Jay'Z himself tells of how he "dumbed down" to make money (presumably in the quickest way he knew how), in an attempt to gain the means by which to reach back and help others following in his footsteps (if I have that right! ).
What the industry is doing is exploiting black youth. It is using unflattering, stereotypical images of urban black children to make money and further promote negative perceptions to the world at large. When a 2Pac or a Jay'Z or a 50 cent joins that industry, thus allowing themselves to be exploited and bring and encouraging others to do the same, it does not polically or socially uplift the community. It may uplift the bank account of the artist or the record company, but it doesn't send our children to college, it doesn't renovate dilapidated neighborhoods, it doesn't supply elementary and secondary schools with text books. And then the artists who make it big, who establishes the recording studios, or record label or the clothing line turn around and use that same method of exploitation to make even more money!
So, it's not just what you do, but how you do it. I supposed the most important lesson that we did not teach you is that true and viable social/economic/political power will only come through our unity as a people and as a community. The gap between the generations will have to close before any real progress is made. I don't think that my generation looks down on hip hop as an art form ... rhymes and storytelling has been around since generations before mine! But if what you are expressing never formulates into a positive outreach, then you are, by and far, simply makign money. And the positives of that are usually short-lived.
I read a story recently where Puffy is going into the rim business. He is taking his influence (and his money) and pairing up with a White rim maker somewhere in the South and is going to make these rims to market and sell to urban youth at between $700-$3,000 dollars!! He's going to make a lot (more) money!! Usher just bought into a sports franchise, which I happen to think is excellent. He says he's going to give up performing to concentrate on being a successful businessman. He also made a statement not too long ago that entertainers did not need to be involved in politics and the two should remain separate. That's his opinion ... but, it's not very helpful! Suge Knight ... one of the biggest gansters there is. Keeps going to jail. Keeps making money. Keeps exploiting his own people. But for all that, he is still revered by the hip hop community for the fact that he is a success ... not how he became successful.
The Get-Out-The-Vote campaign was indeed very successful. But how many of the young voters actually knew what they were voting for? Did they come out and vote because Russell Simmons told them to ... or because they knew their duty to evoke effect political change by casting their vote for the things and people that they believed would be able to accomplish that goal? Again, it's not just what you do, but how and why you do it that enables power to take a positive form.
It's late and I know I'm probably rambling ... but let me just close with this. I think my generation appreciates and recognizes the ability of hip hop and the youth within it as an art and form of expression. I believe we see the potential it has to globally send a message and call attention to what matters and is important today and changes that need to be made and voices that need to be heard in order to establish a rise and growth of the Black community. But in its present form, it is more about the quick buck than any social or political stance. It is more about continuing to give the record industry the rope that is used to to hang us with, than the establishment of any real individuality or purpose with which to effect positive change. As you said, in our day, it was education and hard work that created the successes. It still needs to be. Instead of trying to find new ways to tell the same old stories of poverty and despair, tell those teenage girls to stop having babies while they still are, tell the young men to pick up a book, not a gun, teach them that the Black woman is a queen, not a ho, share the stories of getting out of the ghetto by education and applying yourself. Don't just tell the youngsters that AIDS is a problem ... tell them how to avoid contracting it!! Give them self-esteem about who they are and where they are going ... not glorify a gangster/thug lifestyle as if that is something that anyone would really want to achieve.
I like you Ebony.
Pardon my interjection, but you consistently speak of your generation. I am relatively new to this forum.....may I ask of what generation you are a part?