Hip-Hop is NOT Culture
I have been trying to wrap my head around this topic for several weeks now. Ever since I saw a subway advertisement for the VH-1 produced show ˜Hip-Hop Honors,' I have been in a lousy mood. When I think about the history of VH-1 and MTV in relation to Hip-Hop, I get pissed the fuck off. I am old enough to remember the time when these cultural hustlers would not recognize Hip-Hop because the T.I.'s didn't believe they could make money from it. They thought that because this art was originally produced and created by disenfranchised people, it would not translate to the suburbs and the exurbs of America.
Give RUSSELL SIMMONS and RICK RUBIN hell'a credit too. When the T.I.'s saw how many white were coming to see acts like KURTIS BLOW, T-LA ROCK, RUN-DMC and of course, the BEASTIE BOYS, they realized there was money to be made. Keep in mind that Hip-Hop's prime demographic group is white males between the ages of 14 yrs old and 28yrs old (a/k/a the new teenage years).
I went to see 50CENT at the 70,000 seat Ford Field in Detroit and the only black folks that I saw were the ones tap-dancing on stage and the fools selling bootleg tee shirts outside the arena. Hip-Hop music is how white in America gets a chance to go on an ˜urban safari'. From the veritable safety of their iPOD.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE stop calling Hip-Hop a culture. This demeans the achievements of actual cultures that have shaped everything from language to economics to politics. Hip-Hop has not transformed any of the aforementioned standards. Hip-Hop in America is marketed as an alternative to securing an education, so much so that the word ˜bling' now appears in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Hip-Hop in America is marketed to promote consumerism without regard for fiscal austerity, so much so that people without a pot to piss in have a bottle of champagne in their refrigerator. Hip-Hop in America is marketed as an over-sized white tee shirt instead of the realization of socio-political responsibility, so much so that ˜VOTE or DIE!' rolls off of my lips as easy as ˜JUST SAY NO!'
The actual culture is called capitalism. Hip-Hop is an artistic movement that is an outgrowth of the culture of capitalism, much the same way that 5000 years ago North African culture produced the pyramids. Though to tell you the truth, Hip-Hop isn't nearly as great or everlasting as the pyramids of Giza. I don't think any beings will look at the ˜Black' album 1000 years from now and think that they missed some kind of cultural zenith.
I am not telling you not to enjoy watching a program that features performances from some of the artists that have crafted the soundtrack to our lives, just don't get all longwinded and quasi-intellectual. No one will care what you have to say anyway.