The idea for a series on Hip-Hop came amidst a bunch of incidents that presented the obvious need to discuss it: A group of white fraternity members were caught on video signing a racist chant and their usage of the N-word was quickly blamed on the music genre; Iggy Azalea can’t rap, but more than that we have to talk about her place in cultural appropriation; On a more personal note I had a discussion with some co-workers (who don’t listen to rap) about the genre and needless to say I never defended it so hard. While problematic, the genre has served a purpose in articulating a struggle and bringing hope and the ability to dream to a people that have been stripped of those since arrival. Hip-Hop is part of the foundation for telling the story of the Black-American Dream.
Hip-Hop is activism not just through lyricists like Kendrick or even Public Enemy, but through rappers like 2 Chainz and Future. Yeah I said it, Future. Why? Because the bottom line of rap is Black people, men and women, spitting the narrative of where they came from and what and where they are trying to get in the ways they know how.
Resourceful: (adj.) having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
If that doesn’t describe Black people, then I don’t know what does. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you know the history of Black people in America—if you don’t, Google is your friend—so you know how Hip-Hop has told many rags to riches stories, all of which were a result of Black people having to find their own way out of circumstances placed upon them due to traditions of White Supremacy.
That may sound extreme, but where did ghettoes and economic inequality come from? Racism. Even that “Black-on-Black crime” idea is rooted in systemic racism.
Hip-Hop has it’s fair share of controversy, yes, but I can’t help but be protective over this genre of music. It flourished out of circumstances that had a community destined for failure, like a rose that grew from the concrete. Hip-Hop is not just fun or a chance for others to make money; it’s story telling and activism and continues to serve as the score to history lessons about the Black community.