Today's generation is the hip-hop generation and not simply because that's what they listen to. Hip-hop defines how they dress, speak, and interact among themselves as well as how they perceive previous generations. It's the basic visual within the media they see; it is their source of artistic experience and their forum for socio-political commentary. Hip-hop reflects their state of mind. It is the foundation of this generation's voice. Therefore it should be regarded as a powerful vehicle for change rather than devalued through our over simplification its content.
Every thin-skinned individual wants to jump down Hip-hop's throat and denounce gangster rap, video hos, and the glorification of a "Bling Bling" lifestyle, while failing to see the socio-economic phenomenon that the Hip-Hop generation has brought into being. These individuals, coming from some of the worst neighborhoods, schools and family situations possessed the drive to turn despair into entrepreneurship and black art. Once limited to hustling on the corner, they have the power and the opportunity to perform across the world, and I reiterate they don't just sing about the bling. Social rap is not just limited to Talib Kwali or Kanye West. We don't admit it, but social commentary comes out the lyrics of gangster rap everyday. I hate to burst everyone's moral bubble but artists like 2Pac and The Game share personal accounts of the violence that exists on the streets. It is these accounts that touch young people living in similar situations. These artists have become this generations leaders in so far as they have spread the word about the struggles of young urban youth in America. They are preaching in their rhymes. You may not like every word you hear, but not everyone liked Ray Charles either. We as a people need to pick another battle as far as Hip-Hop lyrics are concerned, because this is the vernacular that they speak. It's what they say that is significant. Moreover, it's what they do that matters.
Does anyone realize that the very media that brainwashes you to shake your ___ while denouncing rap artists utilizes the work of these same artists every day? In 2004, it was the Puff Daddies and Russell Simmons of our world who got black kids to come out and Rock the vote and fight against the Rockefeller Drug Laws. At one point African Americans and white America alike thought it was amazing to see OJ Simpson, a black man, in a business suit in a commercial. Today we have white men in business suits bopping their heads to Jay-z songs in every other commercial. How amazing is that! 50Cent made 11.4 million off of his first album. Words can't begin to express the every growing power and success of these young individuals in spite of the hand life has given them. And there success is not limited to the car you see them drive on TV. At 25 years old, Ludacris has the power to start his own youth foundation, The Ludracris Foundation and he is not the young only one. Wyclef Jean has the Yele Haiti movement. We have the Jam Master Jay Foundation for Music, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation; even the controversial Lil Kim founded Lil Kim Cares to aid sick and disadvantaged individuals. Not to mention The Hip Hop Summit founded by Russell Simmons, which mobilizes Hip-Hop artists and leaders like Jesse Jackson to educate urban youth. The list of Hip Hop Helpers is extensive, and it goes beyond the scheme of well known rappers. Young urban professionals, and intellectuals that are apart of this generation also do their part to affect positive change.
You know about BET videos, but do you know BET is no longer Black run. You know about the violence, and you can surely tell me about the immoral visualizations, but can you tell me about the community outreach? Can you tell me how often you've heard about these programs, and the good they do. Can you tell me how many commercials or news reels you see that glorify this group of young individuals for making it and giving back? If you think protesting is over, you haven't seen us yet. If you think our activism died with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, you haven't heard us yet. Please take of the TV blinders off and start reading something. In the midst of police brutality, racism, no jobs and elders who completely fail to share our communal history and struggle because they think a few rings, and sneakers makes us superficial and anti-political, we are pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and bringing capital America to its knees.
If that doesn't prove that we are STILL natural born leaders, I don't know what will.
Each One Teach One
Urban Dyanamics: ud.msoyonline.com