"Damn Baby All I Need Is A Litte Bit" (Of Understanding)

In my first semester of college (undergraduate), I dated an older student who was a hiphop fanatic. His interest had a profound impact on me. After listening to his collection of albums, I instantly became hooked. Soon, any dime I had literally went into spending on music. I absorbed everything from Mob Deep's The Infamous, Nas' Illmatic, to WuTang, (primarily Ghost*, Method, and Chef), the classics. What attracted me the most however, was the extremely male-centered and aggressive hard-core rap. As a writer, I was so interested in the men's self-expression and the ways in which they organized the words that I studied the discourse, dissected its content, concepts, philosophy, frame of reference, and experiences. I learned alot from my studies, but mainly, I learned about black men's deep-seated desire for respect, something they they are not getting from America's mainstream. What they are getting is disrepect, disregard, and avoidance. They are treated as if they are the lowest product of humanity, let alone worthy of being called men. They find ways of getting this respect (validation) through other channels however. Atheletic and music accomplishments are the two most acknowledged. Thus, in the 80's, black music was about "struggling" for rights (due to the political influences of the 70's) and exposing the hypocrisy of white America. Today, its about demanding respect and enjoying and being proud of what we've accomplished despite where we come from.

I don't defend the violence and egocentrism that is evident in black rap music; however, I am wise enough to at least acknowledge the history, pattern of treatment, and behaviors on the part of white America that has led African American men, and black youth in particular, to have low expections and opinions of themselves, their abilities, and what they are capable of doing. And I've acknowledged that their poetic discourse is communicating to the world how they feel about themselves and their experiences in America. They don't know anything about "Imhotep," they don't know anything about African history. The school system has not equipped them with that kind of knowledge. All they know is what they hear, feel, see, and experience in their communities, which in most cases, is depressing by anyone's standards.

Lastly, what's interesting to me is that while I absorbed the messages in the music, even while sleeping at times, I have developed no desire to kill anyone as a result of my listening to the music. I don't own weapons and I don't sell drugs. What I have gained is a better understanding of the black male psyche, their experiences, their perception and attitudes about their experiences, and the diverse responses and survival methods that have been used to negotiate these experiences.
Rowe,

I think your observation is beautiful. For the most part I agree with you. I am concerned about one point you made.

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black youth in particular, to have low expections and opinions of themselves, their abilities, and what they are capable of doing. And I've acknowledged that their poetic discourse is communicating to the world how they feel about themselves and their experiences in America.


Yes it is true that we have low expectations. I disagree whether or not we have a low value or "opinion of ourself", or our image. Our image is what we want to project, and what we want people to "think" (not know) about us. Our image is pride, love of life, and love of self.

My concern is whether or not you feel that rap is our "opinion of ourselves"? Is rap the result of some misguided upbringing, or does it have a direct influence on our behavior, from your point of view?
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Our image is what we want to project, and what we want people to "think" (not know) about us. Our image is pride, love of life, and love of self.


I agree! In fact, if you enjoyed reading this response, you'd probably enjoy reading the response given in the "Are You Ready For A Good Man?" thread. Go check out the story that I provide and refer to the recommended reading. I think you would find it interesting.

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My concern is whether or not you feel that rap is our "opinion of ourselves"? Is rap the result of some misguided upbringing, or does it have a direct influence on our behavior, from your point of view?


I believe rap is a combination of all of those. Its narrative topics and stories (some fictional, some non-fictional) range from the inequality that is apparent in education, employment, and police treatment discussed by artists such as Dead Presidents (also known as "Dead Prez") to the topics related to gender socialization, masculinity, and sex, which are commonly discussed in popular rap music today. However, if you're already nursing a festering negative attitude towards African Americans in general, as some posters have already demonstrated, then you will focus exclusively on those aspects of rap music that are negative and demoralizing because your awareness of and sympathy for the African American Experience is limited.

You know, one of the reasons why black people, and Black men in particular, find rap music so appealing is because its the ONLY profession where they see black men from some of the lowest socioeconomic communities in America succeeding in large numbers and rather quickly. Talent is almost immediately rewarded, whereas in other professions, it takes a relatively long time to be noticed and rewarded for your experience. And if you're a minority, your abilities and talent often times is never noticed or rewarded. Therefore, quite honestly, I don't blame young black men for wanting to pursue a career in music. Besides, a farmer doesn't blame the corn for not growing. He examines the foundation and quality of the soil where the corn is expected to grow. Therefore, rather than blaming black youth for not being everything that we want them to be, lets examine the foundation America has provided them. Is the soil rich with equal access to a quality education and employment opportunities, high expectations, and plenty of room to explore and succeed in whatever profession? Instead of blaming black men, calling them "coons," and so forth, let's talk about how they are not provided with a quality education compared to affluent white and asian children. Let's talk about how their parents weren't provided with a quality education either. Let's talk about how this has contributed to their fathers not being qualified for adequate employment, which extracts him from the home and prevents him from being a Provider for his family. And finally, let's talk about how society disciplines black boys and treats BLACK men more harshly than any other race of men in America, and how ALL of us, in some way or another is affected by this savage treatment.

In any case, now that I've graduated from college and moved on to graduate studies, I've long since lost interest in listening to all of my rap CDs. I've given most of them away to male friends who treated them as if I were giving away diamonds and gold. After all, how inappropriate would be for me to pull up to my place of employment in preparation to teach small children blasting Gostface Killah's, "One." I have kept all of my classics however, they will forever be my favorites. However, I now listen to mostly R/B and such artists as Jill Scott because I'm older now and as life becomes more demanding, you will naturally gravitate to music that is more calming. But I won't EVER forget my hiphop roots and I respect my student's interest in hiphop music, in all its many varieties.
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Instead of blaming black men, calling them "coons," and so forth, let's talk about how they are not provided with a quality education compared to affluent white and asian children. Let's talk about how their parents weren't provided with a quality education either



Amen to that sistah.

I appreciate your soft attitude. You have chosen a perfect career. Your students will immensely appreciate your soft and positive persona that will counteract the negative harsh realities of...

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how society disciplines black boys and treats BLACK men more harshly than any other race of men in America,


Amen to your posts
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Originally posted by HeruStar:
Degenerated?

It's not the money that catches my attention. It's the employment opportunities that evolve around a fast growing culture. It's the industry that we created out of nothing, that became something, and is growing immensely. The culture is living walking breathing hard-work and success. A culture that is rooted in poverty and injustice has mastered it's environment and created a recipe that the world can enjoy. This culture has generated a level of self-esteem that will not be torn down by critics of any kind, white, black, old or young.

So what BET is white owned. Whites own the banks. So what. To me it's an example of the roles changing and us taking our rightful place.

In ancient times eunuchs guarded the valuables of the wealthy and the kings. Those eunuchs were black Ethiopians. Nowadays whites guard our riches. That's cool with me. Remember this, money, hard-work, talent, or anything that's takes skill or perserverance that is regarded as your treasure, whatever it is you put in the white bank is YOURS.

Again, it's not about money. It's about the unemployment rate of blacks that the hip-hop culture is taking leaps and bounds to dissipate. The Fashion industry (ie. clothes, models, stylist, creative, jewelery makers) and the many jobs it involves, the publishing industry, the movie industry and many other industries that I'm currently researching so as to make a list of careers and job titles.

WWJD?
He probably wouldn't meddle in our artistic endeavors since they are not of him. He would however encourage us to maintain our purity and consciousness as it relates to Him and spirituality.


Some people aspire to be in their oppressors place, some peoplewould like to destroy or severly reduce oppression altogether. If the cap fits, where it.

BTW I asked WWJD because if one is truly spiritual the spirituasl principles they hold dear, from whatever tradition they derive from, should effect EVERY part of their life and outlook, not be turned on and off like a light switch. Since you are a supposed follower of Yeshua's teachings I wanted to see what you thought he would do. I couldn't very well ask you what woudl Olorun do, you don't follow my system of thought. But like most, you divorced your spirituality from this subject and let the 'Benjamins' take over... a true capitalist with no capital.

BTW are you aware you bssically said that you are cool with our people not havinbg self determination or being liberated as long as we get paid?

I disagree with your assesment of Yeshua...he turned over the tables in the Temple for a reason. He was a revolutionary against Rome ect. The reason I have the right to comment is because firstly I'm a human being, and secondly, the Jesus stuff has been shoved down my throught in this society since birth.

WTF did Ethiopean Eunuchs brought to India by the East African slave trade guarding the wealth(aka Hareems) of Aryan Kings who invaded the Indus Valley, who BTW previousley oppress(ed) asnd expoit(ed) the original Black Dravidian/Sudra/Dalit population, warping the original Hindu religion into a form of caste and colour exploitation and oppression(sound familiar) until Buddah came along to 'save' the oppressed have to do with your analogy?

You need to study YOUR people's ancient African times...You are historically and spiritually stuck in Eurasia man...only travelling in conversation to North East Africa because the invaders did and the origins of your plagerized beliefs can't be denied .

I know there are Black folk everywhere, but damn. No dick Africas guarding the Aryan wealth isn't a bragging point. The Sidis(progeny of the Ethiopians you reffered to) are still oppressed in India. BTW, they weren't all made into Eunuchs...obviousely.

Don't get it twisted, knowing everyone's/everwhere's history is cool, but first you must "KNOW THYSELF".

Try studying an epoch of history prior to the Arab and European invasions of Africa. That is 'ancient'.
I don't see the Hip-Hop generation as aspiring to oppress anyone.

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BTW are you aware you basically said that you are cool with our people not havinbg self determination or being liberated as long as we get paid?




Oshun,

My dialogue is 'cryptic' and 'vague' most times. So I guess I deserve this misinterpretation. The "getting paid" thing. Not true. I've tried to point out that Hip-Hop is a Culture that ties us together. We all can contribute our skills and benefit. Wether you be an accoutant, lawyer, clothing designer, auto mechanic... the list goes on and on.

We relate to eachothers desire to get out of the struggle and experience 'comfort'. We were tired of being in a 'struggle zone'. So we created a comfort zone (just as we did during slavery), which is the hip-hop culture. Don't you think we're dished out enough struggle and oppression? Instead of critiquing and morally debasing your brothas and sistas should you reach out and relate. I mean really. How far will you go without us until you realize you've become apart of the oppression and are now sleeping, eating, and living with the enemy?

I've never turned my back on Christ, and I'm sure He hasn't turned His back on me. Christ didn't go around culture bashing. Neither was he a music, movie, or fashion critic. It is my opinion that He stands above and beyond all of those things. He could care less if I laced my adidas with fat or thin laces, whether I tilted my hat to the side hangin' my arm out the window of my crown vic on dubz with tv screens in the dash, jammin to 'the game'. Me being entertained by hip-hop does not disgust or disappoint Him in anyway. BTW, you should know I'm not a 'typical' spokesperson for Contemporary Protestanism.

I'm glad you dissected my analogy. Next time I think about using it, I'll think about you Smile
The people critisizing hiphop seem to be willing to accept that the images we see in movies and tv are manipulated by white controlled corporate media.

But when it comes to hip-hop they conveniently forget who owns the record companies and video channels and radio stations, and blame the music itself.

I have stated this before, there is just as much positive hip-hop being made as negative.

But the negative is getting all the face time.

Why is this? Because we don't control the means production and distribution of our music. Granted with hip-hop we are more in control than in time past, still ultimately the music that reaches the masses is chosen by others.

All true headz know this, it would surprise a lot of you to know that most pro-black conscious artists fanbases are majority white.

Why is this? because white kids have greater access to alternate entertainment channels, such as the internet.

To denigrate a whole genre of music because you don't understand it or haven't taken the time to study it is ignorant. All it will do is drive a wider gulf between the black generations.

And then it will be your bougie, pseudo self-riteous classist attitude that will be harming us, not the music.


http://www.saywordradio.com
neo-kem ... Bless your heart! Smile I hope you don't think you were presenting this information as a news flash or anything, though.

Contrary to your belief ... everybody on this site knows who owns the record companies and who distributes our music. That same number of people knows who buys the music, too.

When it comes to not understanding and being ignorant though ... how smart do you have to be to realize that if the artists were not performing the negative videos and songs that come out, those record companies wouldn't be able to distribute them, would they?? Confused And those young white teenagers wouldn't be buying them! Confused

That image of swiping a credit card down a young woman's ass was not computerized, you know?? And those artists referring to women as bitches and hos are not being dubbed over by some little white man in the sound booth!! Maybe that's what's being denegrated. Eek

Whatcha think?
So if you know these things why spend so much time taking snipes at the artists?

For every album or artist that calls a women a bitch or a hoe I can name one that calls her a goddess or a queen.

And I'm not talking about music made in the 90's I'm talking right now...music made in 2005.

There is a negative and positive to all things.

Electricity will kill you if you stick a fork into a socket.

Should we begin to ignore all of the other things made possible by electricity because of this?

If someone is being forced to stick a fork into an outlet by someone else...who gets the blame for the resulting death?

The person being shocked?

The fork?

The Electricity?

The person who is doing the forcing?

Whatcha Think?



http://www.saywordradio.com
I am jumping into this kinda late, but I must interject something...

neo-kem, do you really believe that there are just as many positive artists as there are negative??

I am a lover of hip hop (since 1977), and I have access to many of the outlets that you speak of and I just do not see what you are saying.

What I see is this: for every Ludicris there are at least 50 wanna be Luda's, for every Nelly there are at least 100 that wanna wear a bandaid on their face...

Please direct me toward those place where I can pick up/listen all the positive HH of which you speak (I am being very serious), because I certainly don't know everything about the music...
I second AudioGuy's request, and I do so in all seriousness, because I just found out last week that Afu-Ra put out a 2nd CD a few YEARS ago, and I had no idea. Artists like that I could support if there was a place to hear the stuff. But no way do I believe that there are as many Afu-Ras as there are Webbies.
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Originally posted by http://www.neo-kem.com:
If someone is being forced to stick a fork into an outlet by someone else...who gets the blame for the resulting death?


So you are saying that 50 cents and The Game and Ludacris are forced to make their videos? Tupac was forced make those records? I thought he wrote his own lyrics? Confused (But I guess that just goes to show what I know!)

In that case I only have 2 questions .... Forced by whom? And in what way?
No I am not saying those artists were forced to do they do.

I'm saying we as in the collective WE are being force-fed negative music when they're are just as many positive artist and albums being made every year.

We are being forced by those who own the radio stations and video channels.

We are being forced by the ignorant people in our own community who see music as a get-rich quick scheme instead of an art-form.

10 years ago most of these cats considered stars today would have gotten laughed off of the stage.

What changed this? The potential for profit recognized by the machine, and the growing realization that hip-hop was a powerful motivator abd could be used to educate the ignorant.

Here is a partial list.

1.K-os - Joyful Rebellion
2. De La Soul - The Grind Date
3. Masta Ace –A Long Hot Summer
4. Wordsworth - Mirror Music
5. Foreign Exchange –Connected
6. Murs-Murs 3:16
7.Jean Grae- This Week
8. Maroons-Ambush
9. Gift of Gab-4th Dimensional Rocketships Going Up
10. Tajai-Power Movement
11. Opio- Triagulation Station
12. J-Live-The Hear After
13. Kaze – Spirit Of 94
14. One.Be.Lo- Sonogram
15.Black Market Militia- Black Market Militia
16. The Perceptionists- Black Dialogue
17. Sunz Of Man-Freedom of Speech
18. Dujeous City Limits
19. Living Legends - Classic
20. Zion I-True & Livin
21. Crown City Rockers - Earth Tones
22. The Blacksoil Project- The Calm before the storm
23. Self Scientific - Gods and Gangstas
24. The Strange Fruit Project-Soul Travellin
25. Mathematics-The Problem
26. Sway & King Tech-Back To Basics
27. O.C-Starchild
28. Brand Nubian-Fire In The Hole
29.Micranauts-The Emperer and the Assassin
30.Visionaries-Pangaea
31. Rise-Trapped in Amerikkka
32.Ankore-The People Said (this is an awesome album)

And these are all artists that have recorded in 2004-5 i left off a gang of stuff from the early 2000's like:

Immortal Technique-Revolutionary vol.1-2
Little Brother-The Listening
Pep Love-Ascension

And so on and so forth.

If you truly wanna get reunited with good hip hop tune in:

http://www.saywordradio.com

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