Skip to comments.Mindless, violent hip-hop culture isn't 'keepin' it real,' it's destroying our kids
Posted on 06/09/2003 5:14:22 AM PDT by rhema
Run-DMC, whose Jason Mizell better known as DJ Jam Master Jay was shot to death in a Jamaica recording studio last fall, was just named the greatest hip-hop act of all time by music channel VH1.
Also ranked among the all-time greats are Tupac Shakur, Nelly, Sean Combs, MC Hammer, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Grandmaster Flash, Salt-N-Pepa, Jay-Z, the Beastie Boys, Afrika Bambaattaa, Lil' Kim and Queen Latifah. To the consternation of Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh didn't make the list, which must tell us something about something, but it's hard to imagine what.
Frankly, I'd rather listen to Jerry Butler, the Cadillacs, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Gene McDaniels, Dee Dee Sharp now Dr. Sharp, with a Ph.D. in early-childhood development or any number of other R&B stars from the '50s and '60s.
For the most part, they also came out of the ghetto. Early on, their music was condemned as immoral and obscene (and some of the rougher songs did have suggestive lyrics). But rather than looking down "keepin' it real," as the rappers put it the early R&B artists frequently sang about love and happy days ahead. Their songs were melodious. You could understand the lyrics.
They were sometimes beautiful. Many consider Butler's "For Your Precious Love" one of the greatest songs ever recorded.
The hip-hop "stars" of today whose dominant themes are violence, drugs, misogyny and the in-your-face display of money, jewels and expensive cars think they're getting a bad rap. But they're getting what they deserve.
Artists must realize the words they speak and the actions they take have an impact on young and impressionable kids. And the message they are sending America's teens and preteens white and black alike will not help these kids later in life.
Most rap artists refuse to acknowledge their responsibility as potential role models, deflecting criticism as yet another racist attempt by the media elite to squelch black creativity in the arts. Unfortunately, the mainstream media are "guilty" of no such thing, and actually add to the problem by treating hip-hop performers as serious artists.
Rap entered the mainstream in 1992 with the release of Dr. Dre's "gangsta" album, "The Chronic," which featured such memorable rhymes as, "Rat-a-tat and a tat like that/Never hesitate to put a nigga' on his back." The album is littered with similar lyrics throughout.
Rife with the worst of what rap would regurgitate over the next decade, "The Chronic" was gobbled up by white kids and black kids alike, going platinum several times over on its way to becoming one of rap's all-time biggest albums. The album's popularity spawned hundreds of imitators, each one trying to out-gross the other, in record sales as well as attitude and language. Many of these imitators are now on VH1's list of rap greats.
After a decade of rat-a-tat rap violence and crap, the effects on America's youngsters is only now becoming obvious. Ronald Ferguson, a black professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, has found a significant correlation between the rise of rap and the decline of education in the black community. Ferguson found that in 1988, four years before the release of "The Chronic," 35 percent of black children read daily for pleasure. The figure has plummeted to 14 percent. As we know, the effects are now being felt in the white community as well.
America's hip-hop artists have kept it real long enough. We all know about the problems in urban America. It's time for the artists, producers and record company executives who are making big bucks "talkin' trash" to start focusing on solutions. Then, maybe, the VH1 rankings will mean more to America than a list of the best of the worst.
Our young people are watching and listening. It's time for another voice.
Alvin Williams is president and CEO of Black America's Political Action Committee. Readers may write to him at BAMPAC, 2029 P Street NW, Suite 202, Washington, DC 20036; Web site: www.bampac.org.
Parents should get with the program and help their kids make good choices...period. There is good and bad rap, hip hop or any other type of music for that matter.
There is nothing in particular wrong with rap only the direction it's taking. If it promoted a message that was helpful to the listener, Rap would be fine, but instead, much of it glorifies criminal behavior. But even that is just a symptom of a far greater disease in the community at large.
It's doin xactly what it supposed to be doin
Once we got to the early 90's, the urban thug mentality entered rap music. Gangsta rap, which glorified a criminal element under the faulty guise of "telling the true story of the streets" entered the urban culture, and spread like wildfire.
Some petty street thugs and gangsters found a new outlet for their efforts, which led to the east coast-west coast gang wars. Those wars led to a worsening image nationally, and ultimately led to the jailing of 'Shug' Knight and the murders of Tupac Shakur and 'Biggie Smalls'.
Jason Mizell was a casualty of what the urban music business has become - the realm of thugs and criminals. He was on the periphery, and stepped on the toes of one of these petty thugs that is out there in the business now.
Those "businessmen" are nothing more than petty gangsters trying to play at using mafia-like tactics to advance their criminal enterprise. They use violence and sedition to push their music and by extension, they push drugs and promote the exploitation of women. They drive the big, expensive cars, wear the gaudy jewelery and simultaneously give voice to the victim mentality of the younger members of the black community across the nation.
They are part of the ongoing disease affecting black America. And it will take much time, effort and energy to create a means for a cure.
Yes, and they will all be truly missed...[ahem]. I have less than zero respect for anyone involved in the rap world. I used to be a fan back in the days of Run-DMC and Hammer, but it's just gotten ridiculous. They make the '80s glam rockers look calm, composed, and reserved.
Their "music" (I use the term loosely) videos are packed with people who can't speak english, who parade their gaudy jewelry, hats worn at odd angles, and big, expensive cars which most people will never be able to afford anyway.
I see most of these guys as being so incredibly shallow and materialistic to the point where it's just sickening. In so-called "urban culture," if you don't wear gold jewelry and have the latest Starter jersies, then you're not worth consideration. So what's the result? Guys who can't afford to feed their families are buying this crap in order to remain trendy. It's not just a fad, it's a genuine symbol of status to these people.
Probably worst of all, and the article touched on this subject, more and more black men think that education is a total dead-end. That's why you see so many trying to become "rap stars" and basketball players. They're trying for what they think is easy money. They don't seem to understand that an extremely small percentage of these guys actually go on to any form of success.
I don't buy the whole "every generation says this" line when it comes to rap. Young blacks need a strong slap across the face--and soon.
There is a demonstrable difference. Or did I somehow miss the Elvis and Chuck Berry songs that advocated killing cops and raping women?
That's why this black writer enjoins the whole rap community, not just amorphous "adults," to clean up the act: It's time for the artists, producers and record company executives who are making big bucks "talkin' trash" to start focusing on solutions. Then, maybe, the VH1 rankings will mean more to America than a list of the best of the worst.
And I listen only occasionally . . . when I have the car window down at a stop light and am the beneficiary of the Moron's Guide to Expletives blaring from my neighbor's car.
Try it again - let's look at percentages; and especially percentages of artists/albums who are selling on the rap charts. The overwhelming majority of them are by artists who are mired in the gangsta-thug-criminal-mysogynistic culture that people percieve.
Ten to fifteen years ago, the animals who are populating the charts now would not have made it, nor would their antics been tolerated on a large-scale basis.
And if I hear that 50 Cent "It's yo birthday" bilge on my car radio again, I'm gonna rip it out of my dashboard and chuck it out the window. I'm sorry -- that's not even music, it's a moron who was too dumb not to die when he got shot babbling into a microphone.
Don't worry - I don't.
But it's not a matter of "not liking it," it's a matter of fostering a culture of gang-banging, the raping of women, the stealing your way to success. I have a responsibility to ensure that my children's world is a better one than mine. This kind of message - one that is taken seriously and emulated by the masses - is one that is not needed.
And it certainly does not do a thing for creating a better world - unless your idea of a better world involves scantily-clad booty-shaking women glomming onto ugly men with more gold than Fort Knox in their mouths, and driving cars big enough to house a king-sized bed and fireplace in (of course, this is while they still live in a ghetto tenament). If that's what it's all about, I'll pass...
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