I was at a “hip hop” club recently and as I stood there listening to what was being played I realized that almost all the songs sounded the same. They all had very similar beats and rhyme patterns and subject matter……..money, clothes, hoes and drugs was a bit toxic it made me want to punch somebody while taking hard drugs and disrespecting women. Then I wanted to go purchase a kilo of cocaine and quit my job. I chalked it up to the ease of mixing, songs with similar bpm’s are easy to mix …….. makes sense right? On another occasion I listened to the local “rap” radio station and the radio versions of these songs are so suggestive they may as well be playing the dirty versions of the songs, the same message was being conveyed and let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t have a child in the car. Most people would say “well just listen to something else” but there is one problem, I LOVE HIP HOP MUSIC. Where is the hip hop on the radio that I can play with kids in the car or that tune that me and mamma can listen to while I take her to the doctor? One of the more popular songs out now “Im in love with the Co Co” by Ot Genasis, the beat is decent but the lyrics are basically about his love for cocaine (co co) dealing it and the video suggest that maybe he is in love with using it also. Then you have some songs like “Lifestyle” by Young Thug which was one of the more popular songs of 2014 that sound like someone “mentally challenged” was singing it. I liked Beyonce’s song “Drunk in Love” till i heard a 12 year old girl singing it. If you don’t think music has an affect on the human brain read this or maybe this.
Before I continue let me say that I am very much an advocate of artistic freedom but I do think it has its place. I think artist need to diversify the messages they send or better yet just keep it really real and find a way to talk about real life in a cool way. In real life your favorite gangster rapper is probably pretty smart and usually has a family that they want the best for, they have kids that they want a good life for. Usually they are speaking on their past life not what is currently going on (check statues of limitations). Most people neglect to see that this is all entertainment and make the art their reality and most times this turns out bad for them. These kids really think its real and think that if you don’t live illegal you aren’t real they cant differentiate. It’s like the companies don’t think we are smart enough to get it, the limited choices also says something about how they value or devalue us as consumers.
Hip Hop has always been connected with street culture and lower income areas commonly called “Ghettos” but rap as we know it has been here 40 + years now and the people performing it come from a diverse mix of places backgrounds and races and the diversity in hip hop should be exposed more. Hip hop as brought many people together, I can say as a black man raised in the south during the 70s and 80s that hip hop has introduced me to many diverse people that I probably wouldn’t have relationships with if not for hip hop, it’s a great equalizer. In the beginnings of hip hop in The Bronx there were Black kids, Latino kids and white punk rockers all jamming to this new hip hop music. Hip hop at its very core is about diversity, look at the many music sources it samples from funk, rock, jazz, reggae, R&B, blues and more. As hip hop spread from New York it took on the personality of the areas it spread to. When hip hop came to the deep south to Houston and Memphis and Georgia you started to hear old blues records being sampled or the bounce of New Orleans or the funk of Parliament and Zapp that you hear in traditional West Coast rap. Not only did the sound change but the message in the music changed to reflect the realities of the area in a real way. It educated the world about what was going on in the area, prior to NWA very little was known outside the west coast about the gang problem and how they were being treated by the police the music was gangster yet educational.
Most working adults don’t have the time nor the knowledge of where to find positive hip hop music. The mainstream seems intent on pushing a plethora of questionable messages to the youth of this country. One major advantage that us 70s babies raised in the 80s had was VARIETY, there was a diverse array of hip hop artist that had different messages. I remember one of my favorite tapes (see cassette tapes) was a mixtape I made with my favorite songs from The Jungle Brothers, The Geto Boys, The RBL Posse and the Deep Cover soundtrack. I know this is foreign to you all under 30 but if u Google these artist you will see they are quite diverse. This mixture of artist could also be found on the radio. One of my favorite rap labels back in the day was Jive Records (yeah Jive used to be all rap) the label included acts including Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Too Short, Krs One, Souls of Mischief, UGK, E-40 and A Tribe Called Quest again VARIETY.
Media is so diverse these days, you have Pandora, Spotify, Youtube, Vimeo etc etc. Yet even with all the different ways to hear music radio and TV are still big pieces of the media pie it is still the cheapest and easiest way to hear and see music. Nearly all of these entities are owned by corporations who are only concerned with the bottom line; MONEY. Not the preservation of the culture (rap is just the music of the culture) or giving something positive to the youth of today. It would seem that there is some type of conspiracy to destroy this generation, and again it’s all for profit.
The argument that “parents should regulate what their kids listen to and watch” is true only to an extent. To fully do that you would have to almost completely take the radio and most hip hop music out of a child’s life all together. But what about the computer, cell phones and other like devices? Kids are very tech savvy and have access to everything how do you regulate?
The bottom line is that the entertainment industry gives us limited options and we don’t seek out the independent artist that are truly the vanguard of rap music and the industry does not push true artistry on a major level. The listeners should know that they are the lifeblood of the industry and they should make it a point to support whatever they like and on the same token they should actively seek new music that is not mainstream and always look for something different then tell a friend or two about new music. Send a loud clear message to the industry about what you like. Life is based on balance the good the bad the positive the negative the up the down, we seem to only be getting the down.
Teen speaks on speaks Rick Ross & mainstream rap’s influence on Youth Part 1
Teen speaks on speaks Rick Ross & mainstream rap’s influence on Youth Part 2
Teen speaks on speaks Rick Ross & mainstream rap’s influence on Youth Part 3