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The following represents a hypothesis about the current state of Hip Hop.

  • Hip Hop is BIG business. I read recently that three out of every four dollars spent on music is spent on Hip Hop. WOW!

  • The vast majority of Hip Hop consumers are white.

  • Although there are notable African American Hip Hop producers and record companies, the majority of Hip Hop music - at some point or another - goes through white companies - whether in manufacturing, marketing, or distribution etc. As with all other industries in this country, most of the money made in the Hip Hop business is made by white companies.

  • Art chases money. If all of a sudden there were billions of dollars to be made from creating French impressionist landscapes - every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a paint brush would be painting French impressionist landscapes.

    Here's my contention: while Hip Hop comes from African Americans and, at some levels, "celebrates" an aspect of African American culture, it has really devolved to be a music form that is driven by whites and that - without us even knowing it – has African Americans parodying white stereotypes of themselves. Hip Hop, largely, has become like black folks in ˜black face'!!!

    Here's where I'm going with this:

    I was in college in New York in the early 1980's when Hip Hop was born. While the music and lyrics grew out of the party scene, it quickly evolved into a vehicle for social criticism (e.g. "It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under ."). Public Enemy had a huge influence on me. It was great hearing music with lyrics proclaiming the very things that I believed and wanted to hear about myself and my people!! At that point, Hip Hop was OUR music - "for us, by us".

    That said, and I could be wrong, but it seems that white folks really started loving Hip Hop when (so called) ˜gangsta rap' took off. When NWA said things like:

    Fuck that shit, cuz I ain't tha one
    For a punk muthafucka with a badge and a gun
    To be beatin on, and throwin in jail
    We could go toe to toe in the middle of a cell


    it gave white, male, middle class teenagers something to manufacture instant "street cred" for themselves. While hanging out in suburbia they could now wear Timbos, baggy pants, a Raiders jersey and cap, recite a few rhymes and all of a sudden they were transformed into "playas"!  The ˜punk to playa' phenomenon is what continues to propel the phenomenal growth of Hip Hop throughout the world.

    White companies control both American business generally, and the music business specifically. Therefore, it's not too much of a stretch to believe that even though young black males create Hip Hop, that like African American influence in the NBA – which is for the most part limited to the court, it's really the white folks behind the scenes in music also who are making the real money and ˜pulling the strings' in the industry. Therefore, I contend the following:

  • The white companies behind Hip Hop actually drive the creative direction of the music as well as the economics of the industry.

    Here's the critical point: I think most people can get their heads around the fact that white companies may have a greater influence on the business of Hip Hop than one might outwardly think. BUT - as with the earlier point about "art chasing money", these white companies know who their ultimate consumer is and they cater to him. They know that a white teenager could care less about (what to African Americans would be) uplifting, conscious music promoting black empowerment and liberation. So – where does corporate America put their dollars? Behind the images and lyrics that white America has always enjoyed seeing – African Americans clowning and generally acting in less than "socially redeeming" ways. In Hip Hop, as everyone knows, the images have centered on so called "thug life" - hustlin', violence, prurience, misogyny, and drugs. To be sure, those images are what make white teens feel cool; as well they confirm the broader biases and prejudices that whites have about African Americans.

    So – while it is African American rap artists who create the music and write the lyrics – it is corporate America that establishes the incentives for what they want from Hip Hop. For all intents and purposes, they set the rules that black artists create within. As a result, black folks have effectively lost control of our own art form. Conceptually, there is little difference between rap and, say, smooth jazz. Both are bastardized forms of African American music that have been homogenized and processed (like the mystery meat Spam) to create ˜corporate music' for the masses. Sure, Hip Hop artists create from the heart. It's just that if ten years ago the money had been placed in another aspect of the culture and the music – that would be the part of their experience that they would be creating from. If R&B, for example, was where corporate America wanted youthful urban music to be, then that's what we would have.

    White record companies are, effectively, the puppeteers of Hip Hop. Through the record contracts that enrich (and incent) the artists, to the songs that get played on the largely corporate radio stations, to the videos that are aired – all of these dollars create the "yellow brick road" of cash guiding black folks to continue to create in ways that entertain white folks, but that are counter to our development and uplift. Why this is so dangerous is self evident. It impacts how the world thinks about and interacts with us. More importantly, for far too many, these images become aspirational themes that our young people emulate – to the detriment of the kids, their families, and their communities. When "doing time" becomes aspirational behavior that enhances status and esteem in our community, then we really have to wonder what in the world is going on!!

    At some point, as a community, we've got to recognize the game that's being played (on us) and choose another path. Sure it will be horribly difficult to ask young folks who dream of stardom and riches to restrain themselves, but our progress has no choice but to be retarded if we remain hostage to images and lyrics which are self-destructive and counter productive. Our challenge, then, is to create the social context – the inertia within the African American community - that balances against the current incentives to clown ourselves. In the same way that we currently think about those in our community who we deem "sell outs" for whatever reason, we've got to start questioning Hip Hop artists who, however much they think they are "keeping it real" are also doing damage to our community by executing white America's playbook for us.

    To be clear, I have nothing against Hip Hop. As someone who came of age at the time of its genesis, I feel as attached to the culture as anything else. I just clearly see the exploitation that is occurring and hope we can shift the creative Hip Hop landscape back to themes that better serve us. As it is now, a generation of young people is being sacrificed under the guise of foolish behavior that can only harm them. America clearly has an interest in suppressing African American males. That we have become complicit in our own social suicide - while amazingly conveniently to some - is something that we must combat at every turn. Our future depends on it!

© MBM

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quote:
Originally posted by MBM:


Here's my contention: while Hip Hop comes from African Americans and, at some levels, "celebrates" an aspect of African American culture, it has really evolved to be a music form that is driven by whites and that - without us even knowing it – has us parodying white stereotypes of us. Hip Hop, largely, is like black folks in ˜black face'!!! sck



I came across the following rebuttal:



Wake Up Min Paul Scott! Conscious Hip Hop is NOT Dead!
An Open Letter to Minister Paul Scott:
Wake Up-Hip Hop is NOT Dead!

by Jahi

Peace
Fam,

Thanks for your words. But in all due respect, Conscious Rap is not dead. It's alive and well. If many of you who comment on Hip Hop would take the time to look outside the commercial mainstream you are so critical about, you would be able to see that there are thousands of conscious artists, and they are making an impact inside and outside the US. I can name about 50 right now. And not just rappers, but people who work with kids and adults everyday and are making an impact. TO say conscious rap is dead is to @#%$ on a lot of hard working people dog. I'm not going for that and I'm speaking up. Just go to http://www.myspace.com/soulhop and view my friends.

Also, when you delcare that something is dead, what are you saying to the 10 year old that is hearing Public Enemy for the first time, or is tired of hearing about cars, women, and money all day and has decided to write a rap about Dr. King or Malcolm X. When you say conscious rap is dead, what are you telling me when I do a concert and from that show 50 students in Europe start an organization for the preservation and development of Hip Hop. When you say conscious rap is dead, that's really a defeat-est attitude in my estimation. Why not use your power to get 5 people together with resources and put out one artist that has something to say, and not think about selling a million records but more importantly, uplift one city block. It can and is being done.

If conscious rap is dead, then why did a program like the DJ Project and Youth Movement Records in the Bay Area just get so much attention about having something something to say, and making a difference. I can site examples for days.

Commercial rap is 1/3 of the world of Hip Hop. Sometimes we here in the US are so narrow minded. And to your comment about conscious rappers not being revolutionaries.... If a emcee is speaking something conscious, sells 40 CD's a week ($400) and feeds his family, helps out the neighbor across the street with their kids, has enough time to read a chapter of a book on self improvement, and attends his local council meeting to talk about how to have accountablitiy with schools and police, YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT'S NOT REVOLUTIONARY???? You got to be kidding me.

Here's another example. A female rapper who decides to write a song about mother daughter relationships get's a chance to speak to 10 young girls at a school ,and 5 out of the 10 decide not to have sex yet, and want to learn more about themselves...That's not revolutionary?

Here's one more. A dude in Brazil makes beats but has never been able to connect with other artists, but he get's on myspace, hooks up with a rapper who wants to talk about global affairs. They make the song, send it back to Brazil on mp3, and teachers are translating it into Porteguese and having a discussion and subsequent organizing efforts in South America, and the rapper who lives in the states takes the song to his college professor and they have a class to discuss his lyrics. IS THAT NOT REVOLUTIONARY???

When you say conscious rap is dead, I take that as a direct insult to my 10 plus years of doing conscious Hip Hop all over the world fam. Not just in the US. And to say conscious rap is dead to me says that you don't travel outside of the United States. You haven't been checking the movements in South America, Africa, Europe, The Middle East even in the midst of chaos, and yes even here in the US too. Conscious rap is so alive outsdie the US fam, I saw it it with my own eyes. And I'm not just talking about people jumping around at a concert, but real action outside the club.

I really respect your commentaries, but I'm tired of hearing this @#%$ because you are telling me I'm dead when I'm alive and well, and making a difference in my family, community and world RIGHT NOW homie. And if conscious rap is so called dead ( which it's not) then why not spend time writing an article about uplifting it, transforming it, learning the history about what conscious rap really means (not just saying PE, X-Clan and others without talking about what they've done) OH and X-Clan just dropped a new video, so I guess you are saying they are wasting their time? We talk about older rap artists like teachers used to do black history month. We just mention their name and not tell their story. People don't know because we spend more time defeating ourselves and our potential instead of changing our focus and concentrate on more that who's who, who's what, and everything like that. If conscious rap is dead, then what was Mos Def doing outside Radio City Music Hall. And if Conscious rap is dead, why have I had over 3000 total downloads of a RAP SONG about Hurricane Katrina. Wake up!!!

Jahi

Visit Jahi and check out his music at http://www.myspace.com/soulhop
I will add:


We all need to put our $$$ where our mouth is.

You don't like what's on the radio?

Then seek alternative media.

Go to the stores and BUY artists you like. Buy older artists too. So what if Criminal Minded (KRS-ONE) is nearly 20 years old? Buy it.

Same goes with Jazz:

White folks still buy Mozart's music and Mozart has been dead for more than 200 years.

So we need to be buying the music of Louis Armstrong, And Charlie Parker, and Sarah Vaughan, and Nina Simone, and Curtis Mayfield, and Isaac Hayes, and Public Enemy ... the list goes on.

Kids always return to what they grew up with.

INVEST IN THE PRESERVATION OF YOUR CULTURAL HERITAGE!
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

We all need to put our $$$ where our mouth is.


Agree - but as I try to say in the piece, so much of what is "popular" is defined by those who do not have our interests at heart. From the type of music, to what's on the radio, to what's on the shelves - the entire industry is set up to use us for our talent, but in so doing, also abuse us as well. It takes energy and time to seek out alternative "stuff". Most folks are too busy struggling to put food on the table to do that. They "eat" what is fed them.

Hence, the current state of "mainstream" Hip Hop.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

I came across the following rebuttal:


BTW, HB, this isn't really a rebuttal - against what I've written at least. That there is conscious Hip Hop doesn't oppose what I've written above.

quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

Commercial rap is 1/3 of the world of Hip Hop.


Clearly the author is not talking talking about standard measures like . . . record sales (revenue), units sold, etc.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

I came across the following rebuttal:


BTW, HB, this isn't really a rebuttal - against what I've written at least. That there is conscious Hip Hop doesn't oppose what I've written above.


You are correct. "Rebuttal" was a poor choice of wording on my part. He was, in fact, rebutting only a single statement in your commentary - and even then interpreted in a specific way ... see below ...


quote:

quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

Commercial rap is 1/3 of the world of Hip Hop.


Clearly the author is not talking talking about standard measures like . . . record sales (revenue), units sold, etc.



I think what the author is talking about is the number of artists out there ... clearly not sales ... what he is "rebutting" is your contention that hip hop is largely blacks in black face ... if by "large" you are referring to the relative number of performers out there representing different sub-genres of the music.

But I especially agree with one point he is making: we can't complain about the state of hip hop if we're not making an effort to tune into and promote the alternatives which do in fact exist ...

Isn't your commentary, at least in part, about the need to take our culture back from largely white commercial interests?

Who said that this would be easy?

We're clearly not going to change big business.

The only thing left is to change our listening habits.

We need to get out this mentality that if it's not on TV it doesn't exist. And that TV and other "mainstream" media define the options available to us ... sck
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quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

We all need to put our $$$ where our mouth is.


Agree - but as I try to say in the piece, so much of what is "popular" is defined by those who do not have our interests at heart. From the type of music, to what's on the radio, to what's on the shelves - the entire industry is set up to use us for our talent, but in so doing, also abuse us as well. It takes energy and time to seek out alternative "stuff". Most folks are too busy struggling to put food on the table to do that. They "eat" what is fed them.

Hence, the current state of "mainstream" Hip Hop.



MBM, I agree largely with your comments.

BUT ... we do have choices. We do have the power to shape our own cultural energies. Here is where I disagree: About the nature of "popular" music ....

MBM, the most cogent rebuttal to this portion of your commentary is in the emergence of hip hop itself!!! This was an underground cultural movement created and led by people in the ghettoes ... Nobody really wanted to play it on the radio. Nobody thought it would last. It was a street level REVOLUTION of people saying we don't like what is being fed to us on the radio by corporations. So we'll create some other sh*t from scratch ... NO ... not from scratch ... even more RADICALLY: from the remains of old records! ... OK ... now go back to "scratch" ... we're going to create some new sh*t by "scratching" the remains of old records!!!!
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

I think what the author is talking about is the number of artists out there ... clearly not sales ... what he is "rebutting" is your contention that hip hop is largely blacks in black face ... if by "large" you are referring to the relative number of performers out there representing different sub-genres of the music.


I guess this begs the overused analogy "if a tree falls in the forest . . ." 15 There may be all sorts of underground movements out there, but if they are so underground that only the fringe knows about them, then of what value _to society at large_ are they?

quote:
But I especially agree with one point he is making: we can't complain about the state of hip hop if we're not making an effort to tune into and promote the alternatives which do in fact exist ...


To be clear, I am less critiquing consumer behavior, and more discussing the way we're being straight pimped and referencing the impact of said pimping. That said, if we're in the midtst of a Niagara Falls' flow of media saying one thing - then the fact that there are trickles here and there of something else become relatively less meaningful.

quote:
Isn't your commentary, at least in part, about the need to take our culture back from largely white commercial interests?


Well - I'm not hopeful about the ability to do that. It's been so morphed and processed that I think we may just have to put it down and create something else.

quote:
We need to get out this mentality that if it's not on TV it doesn't exist. And that TV and other "mainstream" media define the options available to us


I hear you, but in practical terms, since perception IS reality, and since we are not in control of that perception, then we've got BIG problems!
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

BUT ... we do have choices. We do have the power to shape our own cultural energies.


Ah yes, but do we? I contend that if corporate America puts billions of dollars behind black folks jumping off buildings, then we'll be seeing some flying Negros with the quickness! sck I don't think that Hip Hop evolved organically. I think white folks saw the value in us clowning ourselves with violence and mysogeny etc. They saw the opportunity to sell that to the primary, white male teen conmsumer, and make billions of dollars. They could care less that there are extremely damaging social costs to the African American community for that behavior. It's about them making chedda. td6

quote:
MBM, the most cogent rebuttal to this portion of your commentary is in the emergence of hip hop itself!!! This was an underground cultural movement created and led by people in the ghettoes ... Nobody really wanted to play it on the radio. Nobody thought it would last. It was a street level REVOLUTION of people saying we don't like what is being fed to us on the radio by corporations. So we'll create some other sh*t from scratch ... NO ... not from scratch ... even more RADICALLY: from the remains of old records! ... OK ... now go back to "scratch" ... we're going to create some new sh*t by "scratching" the remains of old records!!!!


Perhaps - but Hip Hop didn't explode until it was bastardized and shaped into what corporate America wanted it to be.

Blues rose up from old slave songs etc. White folks saw something interesting in it and then stole it and bastardized it to their ends and rock & roll was created. Blues was legit and pure when it was stolen and transformed into something completely different.

The same happened with HH except that when it was morphed, we still were the ones performing.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

Following up, what is AA.org itself but an alternative non-mainstream medium? One that is much needed IMO ... thanks hat


Thanks, but if a media company comes along and offers me $10 million to turn AA.org into some super commercialized gangsta porn site - you best believe y'all Negroes won't be seeing MBM no mo!!!

nono
Hip Hop has been in my opinion detrimental to the Black community. The negativity of gansta rap has created an environment of violence and unrealistic dreams. I to remember when rap was more of a positive ad uplifting art. The question is how can we as a people convince young people the error of their ways, how can we convince the parents and the community at large that the majority of commercial rap is not good and never will be if (also the error of their ways).
Many rappers continue to spew garbage. It is amazing how we as a people embrace things that are not wholly beneficial and get upset when someone points it out. For those who are creating positive and uplifting music maybe it is time for them to get together and utilize whatever tools and resources they can to promote their craft. Unfortunately many artists are looking only for fame and fortune not uplifting a people. This maybe the reason why the so-called underground rap can't get off the ground. We have a lot of work to do as a people. This is a great subject. May be we will find a solution in the near future but will it reach those who need it the most?
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
I don't think that Hip Hop evolved organically. I think white folks saw the value in us clowning ourselves with violence and mysogeny etc.



Excuse me??? Eek

Where was big business in the 70s? Who were the corporate sponsors of Kool Herc, Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Kaz, and Grandmaster Flash ??????

Let me not forget Afrika Bambaataa!

Hip Hop culture essay
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
I don't think that Hip Hop evolved organically. I think white folks saw the value in us clowning ourselves with violence and mysogeny etc.



Excuse me??? Eek

Where was big business in the 70s? Who were the corporate sponsors of Kool Herc, Grandmaster Theodore, Grandmaster Kaz, and Grandmaster Flash??????


My piece clearly differentiates between the origin of this - as any - music form and what happens after the moneyed interests take over. By the word "evolution" I refer to how it has changed over time. Clearly the Sugar Hill Gang didn't write Tip Drill. 15
Our challenge, then, is to create the social context – the inertia within the African American community - that balances against the current incentives to clown ourselves. In the same way that we currently think about those in our community who we deem "sell outs" for whatever reason, we've got to start questioning Hip Hop artists who, however much they think they are "keeping it real" are also doing damage to our community by executing white America's playbook for us.---MBM

I agree with your analysis of 'the market'.

I also agree with your 'keeping it real' position.

The first celebrity I heard use the 'n-word' in broadcast media was Dick Gregroy.

He was on the 'Tonight Show'...I think.

His point was that being called the 'n-word' by a European was different from being called the 'n-word' in the midst of a 'love embrace'.

And he explained that difference in his 'sit down' with Carson.

Getting to 'know' what we mean has always been a pursuit of European Americans.

Carson would always query James Brown, and Ray Charles, and any other artist he considered on the 'dramatic edge' of 'black music'.

My irritation with European American 'rappers' is the same as with the European who walks up to me and addresses me as 'Bro'.

Occasionally, I elect to correct them by saying that if being in a 'meaningful relationship' is why he is using the term, the proper term is 'Bruh'.

And going on to explain that the term is intended to be the short version of bruther.

Sadly, I don't see a corrective action for what has happened to 'hip-hop'.

If you don't control the market, you cannot change the market.

You can however change the product.

African American-Americans have been the driving force of America's music since 'Tin Pan Alley' died in the early 60s.

Create another genre.

Calling each other nigga ain't it.


PEACE

Jim Chester
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
I guess this begs the overused analogy "if a tree falls in the forest . . ." 15 There may be all sorts of underground movements out there, but if they are so underground that only the fringe knows about them, then of what value _to society at large_ are they?



MBM, my brotha aren't you in the ATL? Of all of us, you perhaps have the least excuse. There is a lively undergroud scene in Atlanta. KRS-ONE is based down there now. Have you ever heard of Ishues? He's based in Athens and I've even heard the brotha live... Jesus ...

quote:
MBM:
It's been so morphed and processed that I think we may just have to put it down and create something else.



Let's be real for a second ... Of ALL the people you've ever heard say "Now it's time to drop Hip Hop and move on" ... how many of those people knew very much about the history of hip hop ... or even of the Blues .. or of Jazz?

In my own experience, not many. These people tend to be the self same people who are content with whatever contemporary current there is in Gospel or R&B ... and who themselves have let go of real Jazz and the Blues ...

I'm beginning to think that this complaint about Hip Hop is, in part, a lame azz excuse to cover over the cultural ignorance and the over-all lack of serious engagement with the youth on the part of some of us.

And yes .. also the self hate that some of us still feel and which certain elements in Hip Hop remind us of.

Let's be real for another moment. There's a reason why many of these "Let's drop Hip Hop" people don't know much about the Blues. Many of them are ashamed and embarrassed about the Blues too (or would be embarrassed if they actually knew very much about it).

A lot of those cats did prison time too. Leadbelly ... Son House ... a lot of them.

Vulgarity? Rough humor? Sex? It's there too!

The most storied practitioners of The Blues were NOT role models for black youth!

The Giants of Jazz? Many of them were drug addicts. Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, early John Coltrane. Junkies, man! Junkies! Even Louis Armstrong liked his marijuana.

Let's not even talk about the behind the scenes twisted lives of Motown's biggest stars!

My people are from Alabama. The old church mothers called the Blues The Devil's Music.

Black music has historically been pioneered by the lower classes ... And (outside of Gospel) it has historically not been heavily populated by people you want youth to follow ... Oh shit ... even IN Gospel (can anybody say Sam Cooke?) ... Roll Eyes

Moreover, every generation has seemingly had this idea that it's "time to move on" whenever a previous phase of black music had become mainstream. Shit ... the new guard in Jazz (circa 1945) accused Louis Armstrong of tomming.
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quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
Brotha - think about the big picture. I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about the billions of dollars which influence what 99% of America consumes. You and I are statistical freaks. What we do has little relevance to what AMERICA does.


Believe me ... I see your point (and don't totally disagree with it) ... but MY point is that hip hop started off totally fringe ... For the most part, America's music IS black music ... and has been for awhile now. And no matter how much money the corporations have, we can do a better job at teaching our kids about our past in THIS country and preserving that heritage. It's amazing. Negroes come on here talking about great African feats 20,000 years ago (which are often debatable). But then we think it ain't no big deal to forget 20 years ago (which is much much much less debatable).

I don't know.

I'm an idealist.

I still believe that a few people can make a profound difference ....
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

Of ALL the people you've ever heard say "Now it's time to drop Hip Hop and move on" ... how many of those people knew very much about the history of hip hop ... or even of the Blues .. or of Jazz?


I'm quite familiar with with all of that. My father, among other things, is a jazz saxophonist. I grew up with it and love it. As I mentioned, I was in NY from '80 - '84 when it all took off. At the same time, my point that we've lost control of Hip Hop - I believe - is a critical one. We are being pimped and with much of mainstream rap music, lyrics, images etc. - we are parodying white folks' vision of black life. The problem is that our young people see this stuff and then go out and live it - so that life actually follows "art". The end result though - is that we die, we harm others, we implode the black family, we denigrate our women, we attack intellectualism etc. by "keeping it real", etc. This is extraordinarily destructive to HUGE swaths of African America. If we care about those being negatively impacted by this stuff, we've got to think critically about our consumption of it and participation in that "game".

To your points about us reaching out for conscious music, to be honest, rap isn't being marketed to us. If we don't consume it, corporate America could care less - so long as white suburbia still does. So if we reach out to alternative forms of Hip Hop - current Hip Hop still steam rolls along!
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
So if we reach out to alternative forms of Hip Hop - current Hip Hop still steam rolls along!


Then let it!

Who cares?

I don't listen to the stuff ...

I have no idea what the top 10 is now.

No idea whatsoever.


But our youth are. Honestly. I'm not too worried about you getting "THUG LIFE" tattooed on you etc.! 16
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
So if we reach out to alternative forms of Hip Hop - current Hip Hop still steam rolls along!


Then let it!

Who cares?

I don't listen to the stuff ...

I have no idea what the top 10 is now.

No idea whatsoever.


But our youth are. Honestly. I'm not too worried about you getting "THUG LIFE" tattooed on you etc.! 16



Let's try this one more time ...

Corporations do not cause us NOT to teach our young about their cultural heritage. We don't even teach them about the history of hip hop for goodness sake! Run DMC is ancient hiostory to them ...

You may ask, "How do we do that?"

Radical Idea: Every black community in this country has a church within walking distance. Shit .... the ghettoes have 20 or more churches within walking distance.

Hows about: Instead of using our collective resources (in the form of church facilities, pastors, tithes, offerings, missionaries to go out and "save" people that were never really lost, etc.) to teach our young people pre-scientific fairy tales and the history of ANOTHER PEOPLE (the Hebrews) ... use it to teach them about US.

Instead of using our resources to make that fat m*thaf*cka T. D. Jakes richer ... use those resources to build something for us.

Instead of using the voice of Samuel L. Jackson to do a bad impression of God ... use that voice to do Charlie Parker! ...

Nope ... corporations do not dictate that behavior. 2
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BTW, this idea that all these churches need to be converted to black culture centers was not meant glibly.

In a healthy community, there should be continuity between cultural life and institutional life. Institutions should reflect those aspects of culture that the community wants to preserve.

Look at white kids. It's still cool for them to listen to music of the 60's (their parents' music). Why? Because of all the sectors of popular media culture which portray the Beatles as revolutionary, John Lennon as a male feminist peace activist artist saint, etc., etc.

There are also "vintage rock" stations - noted: they are not called "oldies" stations.

Yes there are cliques which listen to contempoary pop. But the cool kids still listen to the old stuff.

They're even listening to swing now.

What do our institutions teach us? They teach us irrelevant fibs about virgin births two millenia ago in a distant land far far far removed culturally from us.

Why is that we don't regard these stories as the quaint old irrelevant stories that they really (in reality) are?

Because they are central to our institutional life.

And, instead of questioning the stories and their relevance we try to force them to be relevant. By arguing, for instance, that Jesus was really black ... which he may well have been in some sense ... but that doesn't really solve the problem of irrelevance ...

I would go so far as to say that the so called "afro-centric" emphasis on Egypt is really a concession to this tendency. I.e., afro-centrism hasn't really questioned the continuing relevance to us of that time and region of the world (the ancient near east) - nor has it seriously questioned western paradigms. It has simply shifted the center of gravity only slightly westward and embodied the same paradigms in "black" face ...

I.e., traditional "afro-centrism" is not radical enough!


Meanwhile, our cultural, institutional, and economic lives remain largely 3 separate non-interacting spheres.

Our kids may go to the churches but the church (the pre-eminent black institution) doesn't properly transmit our culture (if it transmits it at all). In fact, the church tends to reinforce the division between itself and culture by making a hard distinction between itself and "the world", the sacred and the secular. What IS much worse is that the church is now being courted by conservative white interests to help enact their cultural and social agenda and is being empowered by those interests to further extend its influence (and dysfunctional irrelevance).

Few other institutions in this country have an interest in the intergenerational transmission of our culture.

And so our kids are growing into an economic arena which is largely not shaped/determined by us and certainly doesn't reflect our culture/values/interests.

And then we wonder why hip hop is as it is?
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

And the point of my comments was that this is a gross over-simplification that merely complains about surface symptoms of a deeper problem some aspects of which we DO control.


HB, respectfully, I don't "get" this response. Confused

What, exactly, in your opinion is a "gross over simplification"? What part of the argument that I've offered do you disagree with?

Do you disagree that corporate America drives the music business?

Do you disagree that suburban white males are the primary consumers of Hip Hop?

Do you disagree that white music companies drive the creative direction of the Hip Hop industry by creating financial incentives where they think it will create the greatest returns?

Do you disagree that much of mainstream Hip Hop is damaging to the African American community?

Do you disagree that those white music companies could care less about the damaging impact of that music to us?

What exactly, HB, do you think is the "gross over simplification", or do you, in fact, disagree with? (I'd be very interested, by the way, in any more thoughtful analysis that you can offer! 15 )

Furthermore, where do you see anything that gives you the notion that there is any "complaining" going on? You think pointing out that there is a problem is "complaining"? How else are we to move forward if we characterize self-analysis in pejorative ways?

Lastly, you infer that my piece suggested that this problem is somehow out of our control. The whole point of the commentary is to reveal the game that is being played on us and to demonstrate how we have the power to simply stop playing it. I ended the piece with thoughts on how to offset the financial incentives that the music industry creates so that we could stop the madness. How in that do you read "complainig about surface symptoms"? Confused
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
Do you disagree that corporate America drives the music business?



This is definitely a gross oversimplification. Yes.

I gave as an example hip hop itself.


quote:

Do you disagree that white music companies drive the creative direction of the Hip Hop industry by creating financial incentives where they think it will create the greatest returns?


I definitely agree that white companies greatly influence the creative direction of hip hop. I think that the word "drive" misses the point though.

quote:

I ended the piece with thoughts on how to offset the financial incentives that the music industry creates so that we could stop the madness. How in that do you read "complainig about surface symptoms"? Confused


Yes. Your "solution" is to ask artists (young people) to stop "clowning" themselves.

Among other things, I'm suggesting to you that this is a lot like "personal responsibility" as a solution. It's a way of dumping blame and wiping your hands of your own part in the situation.

I'm saying to you that it is not enough to look at the white business structure. It is not enough to look at the youth.

I'm saying that old black people play a part in this mess too. We've got to look at our institutional failures as well.

I believe that many of us (among the older and established crowd), whether or not we're aware of it, are comfortable with things just the way they are ... and greatly contribute to the "inertia" you allude to in your commentary.

I really don't think that what I've written is that difficult to understand.
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quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
Do you disagree that corporate America drives the music business?



This is definitely a gross oversimplification. Yes.

I gave as an example hip hop itself.


I said that Hip Hop started as one thing and has evolved to another. I also noted that ALL music begins as genuine art. It's when corporate America gets to it that it evolves to something else. That was the whole point behind equating Hip Hop with smooth jazz.

HB, without regard to how, where, when etc. Hip Hop was created, can you - with a straight face - say that Hip Hop is not dominated by corporatism now? That's the point.


quote:

I definitely agree that white companies greatly influence the creative direction of hip hop. I think that the word "drive" misses the point though.


Why? Do you disagree that these white companies saw the connection that white teens had with gangsta and other "hard" rap and put the money there? If that doesn't represent an incentive which "drives" the industry, what does?

quote:

Yes. Your "solution" is to ask artists (young people) to stop "clowning" themselves.


Sorry, you must have missed the following:

quote:
Originally posted by MBM:

Our challenge, then, is to create the social context – the inertia within the African American community - that balances against the current incentives to clown ourselves. In the same way that we currently think about those in our community who we deem "sell outs" for whatever reason, we've got to start questioning Hip Hop artists who, however much they think they are "keeping it real" are also doing damage to our community by executing white America's playbook for us.


BTW - what alternative do you have for solving/improving this issue? If we don't make it socially unacceptable to produce destructive music, what do you propose? Should we just go out and shoot 'em? Confused

quote:
Among other things, I'm suggesting to you that this is a lot like "personal responsibility" as a solution. It's a way of dumping blame and wiping your hands of your own part in the situation.


This really confuses me. If by "personal responsibility" you mean getting us to acknowledge that we are being exploited and to enact affirmative efforts to stop that exploitation, well . . . OK. This has nothing to do with blaming individual artists and everything to do with our community, African America, recognizing how we are being damaged by outside interests and most importantly - how we are complicit in that damage.

"Wiping your hands of your own part of the situation"? Huh??? First, I'm not a music artist. I'm not in the music business. Beyond that, I don't consume the kind of music that we are discussing, SO, respectfully, what are you talking about?

I have, however, taken the time to offer a unique take on the issue which I hope will enlighten others enough to help move us forward and beyond this problem.

quote:
I'm saying to you that it is not enough to look at the white business structure. It is not enough to look at the youth.


Uh, OK, but I thought that's what I was doing by challenging African America to change its perspective on the music. Confused

quote:
I'm saying that old black people play a part in this mess too. We've got to look at our institutional failures as well.


How exactly HB? "Old black people" don't create the music. They don't consume the music. They don't work in the record companies. They don't work in the radio stations, in the record stores, in the clubs, in the video companies, etc., etc., etc. How???

Plus, what "institutional failures" are you talking about as it relates to the current state of Hip Hop? If you can't see that this music form has been warped to serve the white suburban consumer - at our expense - then unfortunately we probably don't have much common ground to discuss things from.

What's your point here?

quote:
I really don't think that what I've written is that difficult to understand.


I'm glad you understand it! sck
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What's so difficult to understand about my saying that we have
* failed miserably *

on the whole to teach youth about their cultural heritage???

If you want artists to create something else, then they need something to use as a basis. It doesn't come from nowhere built on thin frickin' air. You need something to build on. You need artistic forebears.

If you want your youth to listen to something else then you need to provide a context for that.

What is difficult to comprehend about that?

Older black people have failed by NOT providing an institutional context capable of embracing our own diversity ... and of nurturing and encouraging the full range of our own creativity.

And I'm speaking as a younger person (under 40) who has seen this played out in my own life. That's the story of my life. I've lived a life largely dependent on a white cultural and social context to nurture MY gifts.

I live in a town where the black establishment gives lip service to the need for "diversity" but what they mean is that they want more church-going black people who fit into their damned mold. They could give a fuck about anybody else .... no matter how accomplished they are. Completely forget 'em if they aren't accomplished at all.

Older black people have failed by their utter inability to even listen to much less comprehend what we are saying.

Old black folk are so full of their own "understanding" they really cannot listen worth a goddamn. They're too busy telling us what's wrong with us ... I swear in all my years of living I haven't met many people as frickin deaf as our "elders" ... sck
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

What's so difficult to understand about my saying that we have

failled miserably on the whole


to teach youth about their cultural heritage???


Nothing.

I just don't see what that has to do with this discussion.

quote:
If you want artists to create something else, then they need something to use as a basis. It doesn't come from nowhere built on thin frickin' air. You need something to build on.

What is diificult to comprehend about that?


Nothing.

It actually reinforces my point that since the money was put behind gangsta back in the 90's, that formed the basis from which most commercial Hip Hop evolved. HIP HOP DID NOT EVOLVE ORGANICALLY OR NATURALLY FROM THE ARTISTS, BUT WAS GROWN - LIKE IN A TEST TUBE - FROM COMPANIES WHO SOUGHT TO MAKE AS MUCH MONEY AS THEY COULD FROM US.

For it to stop, we're going to have to create an equal and opposite force to counter it.

To be clear, I'm really not blaming the artists and others in the industry here. They saw an opportunity to make an honest buck, and they made it. What I am critiquing is the exploitation of our community by white corporate America and trying to get us to figure out how to stop it - since the pimping is destroying us!!!

quote:
Older black people have failed by NOT providing an institutional context capable of embracing our own diversity ... and of nurturing and encouraging the full range of our own creativity.


HB, I love ya, but this is BS. "Embracing our own diversity? What? BILLIONS of dollars was put behind creating gangsta, violent, mysogenistic, disrespectful, self-hating music. It evolved after corporate America put the sperm and the egg in the test tube and turned the switch to "ON". Current rap didn't just naturally flow from within us. Can you see that HB?

quote:
I live in a town where the black establishment gives lip service to the need for "diversity" but what they mean is that they want more church-going black people who fit into their damned mold. They could give a fuck about anybody else. No matter how accomplished they were. Forget em if they aren't accomplished at all.


OK - I don't understand what this has to do with record companies putting billions of dollars on the table for young artists to compete for in the genre. These are mostly poor kids with few other options. What would you have them do instead?

quote:
Older black people have failed by their utter inability to even listen and comnprehend what we are saying.


What does this have to do with this discussion? Confused

quote:
Old black folk are so full of their own "understanding" they really cannot listen worth a goddamn. They're too busy telling us what's wrong with us ... sck


Confused bang Confused bang
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
I live in a town where the black establishment gives lip service to the need for "diversity" but what they mean is that they want more church-going black people who fit into their damned mold. They could give a fuck about anybody else. No matter how accomplished they were. Forget em if they aren't accomplished at all.


OK - I don't understand what this has to do with record companies putting billions of dollars on the table for young artists to compete for in the genre. These are mostly poor kids with few other options. What would you have them do instead?


You just put your finger on a big part of my point.

Why don't these kids have any options?

Why don't they have anywhere else to go?

And you say that this music damages our community ... right? Meaning that we are consuming this music ... right?

Why are black kids listening to this ... and not something else?

Don't they have options?

If not, why not?


BTW: My point has nothing whatsoever to do with record companies and the billions that they spend. Because I believe the record companies have less responsibility for this situation than we want to believe.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

Why don't these kids have any options?

Why don't they have anywhere else to go?


HB, I sincerely agree with you. I just don't know how it ties directly to what I've written about here.

quote:
And you say that this music damages our community ... right? Meaning that we are consuming this music ... right?

Why are black kids listening to this ... and not something else?


Because there are billions of dollars invested in American youth listening to it. Why do we eat McDonald's? Why do we buy $150 Nikes? Why do we have rims payments as much as our car payments? Why do we do lots of things that we know are counter productive to us?

quote:
Don't they have options?

If not, why not?


OK - Juan (just make the right choice) Williams? 16

quote:
BTW: My point has nothing whatsoever to do with record companies and the billions that they spend. Because I believe the record companies have less responsibility for this situation than we want to believe.


Very respectfully, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of our consumerist society then. As someone who managed the spending of billions of dollars to market brown sugar water, on this I speak from experience! sck

Again, I am not relieving responsibility from those within our community, but as I alluded to with the McDonald's/Nike/rims analogy, I believe we are subject to consumer influences just as much as anyone.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

RE: A consumerist society...


Then why aren't the youth of other groups having the same problems? They too live in this consumerist society?

Many of them listen to hip hop too ...


If a white boy watches The Flavor of Love on VH1 and sees Flava Flav clowning himself and disrespecting black women then he laughs and goes on with his life. It's entertaining television. Period.

If a black boy watches Flava Flav he sees a black man with black women and therefore internalizes the images, the language, the culture etc. It impacts his sense of identity and influences his behavior to a much greater degree. Flava Flav reflects on him and influences him in a far more profound way than the white teen.
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

RE: A consumerist society...


Then why aren't the youth of other groups having the same problems? They too live in this consumerist society?

Many of them listen to hip hop too ...


If a white boy watches The Flavor of Love on VH1 and sees Flava Flav clowning himself and disrespecting black women then he laughs and goes on with his life. It's entertaining television. Period.

If a black boy watches Flava Flav he sees a black man with black women and therefore internalizes the images, the language, the culture etc. It impacts his sense of identity and influences his behavior to a much greater degree. Flava Flav reflects on him and influences him in a far more profound way than the white teen.



There are white chicks on the show too.
MBM, I'm certainly not putting forward a "personal" responsibility argument" ... and neither am I denying the power and influence of big business and media.

I'm simply pointing out that there are sensible things that we can do to counteract those forces. Things that we should have been doing all along ANYWAY. And we are not doing them. And that's on us.

I've seen this too often. We see a problem. We identify structural causes. But then fail to realize the interconnectedness of things. So we expect structures external to us to change ... while we get to keep doing the same things ... and it doesn't work like that ...

By the way, this is not exactly a Con-feed argument. He overlooks the external structures altogether. What I'm saying is that you can't change one part of a system without adjusting all the other parts as well.
I'm in agreement with Brother Honest, Whites have always had an interest in Black muic, because it is controversial, confrontational, and different from what they are used to. And so can we honestly say that Whites, and their dedicated interest in Black music, is what is responsible for the destruction of Hip Hop and the Black community in general? I don't think so. The truth is that today's rap artists, which comprise of mainly grown, adult, Black males, are rapping about the negativity that MBM described because they identify with it. The topics that are typically discussed in the lyrics of today's rap artists are a reflection of their terribly misguided ideas about manhood, specifically how a man should behave and what a man should have on his mind (e.g., stacking cash money, flashing jewels, and sexing girls). Whether they act out the behaviors being described in their lyrics in real life or not, this is what is on these mens' minds all the time, apparently. Therefore, if we want these brothas to talk about topics that we perceive to be more positive and beneficial to the Black community, then we must change these young brothas (and sistas) mentalities and thinking.
quote:
Originally posted by Rowe:
I'm in agreement with Brother Honest, Whites have always had an interest in Black muic, because it is controversial, confrontational, and different from what they are used to. And so can we honestly say that Whites, and their dedicated interest in Black music, is what is responsible for the destruction of Hip Hop and the Black community in general? I don't think so. The truth is that today's rap artists, which comprise of mainly grown, adult, Black males, are rapping about the negativity that MBM described because they identify with it. The topics that are typically discussed in the lyrics of today's rap artists are a reflection of their terribly misguided ideas about manhood, specifically how a man should behave and what a man should have on his mind (e.g., stacking cash money, flashing jewels, and sexing girls). Whether they act out the behaviors being described in their lyrics in real life or not, this is what is on these mens' minds all the time, apparently. Therefore, if we want these brothas to talk about topics that we perceive to be more positive and beneficial to the Black community, then we must change these young brothas (and sistas) mentalities and thinking.



thanks

It's not enough to tell these brothas to just cut it out. We have to fill their heads (and their spirits) with something else!
quote:
Originally posted by AudioGuy:
I guess the point of this thread is that we as a people have become minstrels to our own community... via hip hop...

In other words, we do not control what is popularized in our community and others anymore... We self denegrate, self deprivate, self hate - in the name of the all mighty dollar...



Get Rich, Or Die Tryin'

But so does the rest of America. Your characterization is not unique to Black people, right? All that we have to do is study the roles played by White heroes like Brad Pitt (in Mr. and Mrs. Smith), Tom Cruise, and even the characters on HBO's hit series, The Sopranos to know that excessive violence, thuggery, and brutality is something that the dominant members of American culture enjoy and worship. American men in general learn at very early ages that acting out aggressive and violent behaviors is what defines a man and wins a man respect. The only difference is that when White men act out these violent behaviors, mostly in film (million-dollar movies), which are also driven by corporatism, and are PAID large sums of money for it, they are not demonized for doing so. Conversely, when BLACK MALE artists try to do the same, using a different media (music), they ARE demonized for it. And in some cases, are locked up and put into jail, just for talking about it.

This constant demonizing of the Black man is what has produced the very angry, frustrated, and confused Black male rappers that you see today, and what has created an uprising of rap groups like N.W.A. (Niggas With An Attitude), because conscious hip hop has done NOTHING for the Black youth in terms of ending this demonization and harrassment. Furthermore, conscious hip hop did not give these young people jobs. It did not feed the masses of Black families or provide Black men with the kind of life and standard of living that they observed everyone else in America enjoying. <----And THAT is why conscious hip hop has become extinct and hip hop that focuses on increasing wealth, power, and status is alive and thriving. Since rap music has focused on wealth-building and entrepreneurship, there have been more Black men obtaining positions of leadership in this industry than ever before. I don't condone violence and materialism, but Jay-Z, for example, represents the apex of success in terms of what a really talented artist could accomplish in the music industry.
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