The decline of Hip-Hop

So I am about to write about something that has been on the back burner of my conscience for a while now, and Ive waited until now to share my madness here. Ive been puzzled lately about our culture, and with all the changes I find it tough to keep up with all of it whether it be art, politics, science… whatever. I always want to keep an open mind about my stance on things, and stay relevant with the changing of tides. When it comes to music I’m always looking on the horizon for new artist that inspire me on some level. If it doesn’t resonate within me by the second or third track I usually loose interest. The more inspired I am the longer the the disc spins. When I pop in a new CD I read the lyrics immediately. I am very lyrically minded. The music in itself is a vehicle for the artist to convey a message where the words by themselves couldn’t necessarily go. You can say inspiring things or dumb grotesque things on top of a beat, or melody and it can literally infect millions of minds.

I believe art is meant to be objective. What I take this to mean is this: it is the power of the creative medium, in creativity and ambiguity itself, to ask questions, to evoke thought, rather than just give answers. It is my fervent opinion that the ultimate role of the artist in culture is to provoke a response in the audience, to cause the listener, the viewer, to wrestle with concepts of life, love, regret, salvation, and eternity so that the author himself fades into the background of the work itself, thus leaving the greater question with the mind of said audience.

Having said all that I would like to address a specific genre of music. I want to share my outlook on my view of “The Hip-hop culture” and express some of my concerns and thoughts. I should say first that I love Hip-hop/Rap, whatever you like to call it. But lately when I turn on the radio or TV I see and hear the same cliche language reverberating through my cranium. When I was little I listened to a lot of rap. I remember when I got the first Vanilla Ice cassette tape. Shortly before it got jacked from my moms car. Let me make myself clear; It was the only thing stolen out of her car, AND they broke the window. I also had an MC Hammer cassette, which I memorized in the first few hours I owned it. Now, I know Hammer and Vanilla were far from being original, (much props to Rick James, and Queen) but I also remember the Vanilla Ice craze that in sued for…. oh…. like ten minutes. Remember The ninja turtle movie? OK I hope I’m not the only one here. I also remember watching Run DMC, and wanting a pair of Adidas for my birthday. Oh the good ole days. Now that I look back and reflect on those days I can see how I was being affected by the materialistic side of Rap at a young age. Back then Rap was something fresh and something new and interesting. I believe Rap was (and still is) a voice and identity for the black community. Which is something I value.

But today we have a different kind of beast. A beast that has run out of originality, and is riding on the coat tales of a trend, rather than a true culture. A trend is something people just go along with without thinking. There is a lot of trends that I see on a daily basis. Things like huge shinny rims, Bling-bling, girls dancing every where.  I believe in Rap, even though it looks like garbage right now. Like I said above, Rap (and any other art) has the power to shape cultures. Art is a very powerful tool to influence minds and create action in one person and cities abroad. I am bothered when I see a TODDLER walking down the aisles of a super market using vulgar language to his mother while having the resemblance of a hoodlum.

The other day I was listening to a friends CD who left it in my car. I popped it in my player and took a gander. The beat was good which is what drew me in at first, but as I continued on my journey I heard some surprising themes. Pretty much all the songs had the word “CLUB.” Throughout the rest of the album other phrases were introduced, such as; VIP, BLING, HO, etc….

These are the exact lyrics;
This is why I’m hot [2x]
This is why [2x] Uh
This is why I’m hot (Uh)
This is why I’m hot [2x] Whoo
This is why [2x]
This is why I’m hot

I’m hot cause I’m fly (fly)
You ain’t cause you’re not (Mims)
This is why
[2x]
This is why I’m hot
[2x]

This is why I’m hot
I don’t gotta rap
I can sell a mill saying nothing on the track………

NO YOU CANT. YOU’RE A RAPPER. RAPPERS RAP, RIGHT? YOU WOULDN’T BE RAPPING IF YOU YOU WEREN’T RAPPING.

Hip Hop is a force that transcends language, race, culture and social class. Unfortunately, the classic roots of rap/hip hop have been long forgotten, at least in its homeland the US. Politically and socially rap/hip hop could be a venue for change, a force to be reckoned with as it organizes and mobilizes the youth in mass (and it does, sometimes for the negative). Instead of being revolutionary the mainstream hip hop industry has single-handily distorted the minds of an entire generation.It has been perverted from the socially and politically conscious art form that it began as and peddled into nothing more than materialistic, sexualized, glittering garbage that rarely holds any true significance or art. Mainstream hip hop has also denigrated the African American community, African American women, and is making strong movement toward consuming the Latino community as well. To the mainstream artists: You have the whole world’s eyes on you.

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2 thoughts on “The decline of Hip-Hop

  1. well written. I like good clean rap. no, i don’t find enough of it. it almost feels like vulgar rap is disrespectful to the music itself or the rapper…it seems to say this is trivial or i am trivial and I’ll write about whatever i want because it/i really don’t matter. or perhaps the authors are afraid to rap about anything but sex and violence and materialism because they don’t think they will be accepted any other way or that’s all there is to their life. Perhaps it is an insult to society, saying all you want is the worst of life so that’s all I’ll give you. or maybe it’s an insult to white people…like we don’t want you listening to our music so we’ll make it as offensive to you as possible and at the same time create anthems for our people to instruct them that the worst life is the best life and a life of running from pain and seeking pleasure but still winding up empty and soulless is the best we can have in life. Of course it isn’t just rap. There is bad messages in music in all genres. Hip hop is just one of the nicest genres and it is a shame to waste it. I wish there would be hip hop about being incredibly intelligent…not that any kind of arrogance is good but as it says in the Great Debators, slave owners did what they could to keep the mind weak and the body strong. I know that has changed a lot, but I think it would be good to continue to take ground in that area.

  2. Interesting article. I DO remember the Ninja Turtles Movie, so your not alone. As your article goes I was into rap some when I was younger, but haven’t really kept up with it other that watching Stomp the Yard the other day. But I do love music and can agree that music is a very powerful medium through which people can be influenced. My favorite music usually has a large dose of reality in it, and really comes from the heart…or it makes me want to dance! Either way I hope I get to be a part of creating music one day that helps people understand that they can be who they are without fear or shame.

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