Hip hop is one of the musical genres that is probably the most listened to among today s youths. It is, however, one of the most misunderstood and discriminated against by politicians and comfortable middle classes adults.
Hip hop has yet to be rediscovered as a whole- I mean the culture and the music altogether. In our world of modern technology, hip hop indeed lacks intellectual commentary, which would certainly help to do away with some usual misconceptions about it.
Some people do think that hip hop is only about big money, big jewels, hoes and big cars. Some teenagers think they are hip hop because they dress hip hop and because they listen to mainstream rappers.
Some politicians are convinced that rap music leads our youths to violence and drugs.
Wrong! Only misinterpretations of the true message hip hop actually conveys will lead to violence related behaviors. I have observed young suburban people in front of their houses who think they are cool gangstas because they are smoking one joints or two, wearing a hoodie, listening to the latest 50 Cent hit and carrying a knife. The same guys will enjoy spitting at the neighbor s gate and scaring one or two 70 year old grannies.
That’s not being gangsta, young people. That’s being naughty.
Let me ask you one question, guys: what do you know about ghetto life? Probably very few things. If you actually knew how it looks like to live in a ghetto, you wouldn’t be keen on imitating a lifestyle just to fit into a culture that definitely isn’t your heritage.
It is actually hard to live in the ghetto. I know what I am talking about: I have lived there for years, struggling as a single mom to raise my kids in a very hostile and dirty environment. The ghetto is a place that teaches you about life. I have dealt with realities some of you could barely ever swallow, not even in your dreams. I am not talking that way to raise your pity, I want you to understand that living in the gutter far from being a fairy tale.
The ghetto is a place most people are trying to leave, it is not a pleasant place to stay. The most realistic description of the ghetto as a whole is Grandmaster Flash s. Broken glass everywhere, piss on the floor, living on the edgeâ€¦welcome to the jungle.
When you can and whatever your assets are ( talent, diplomas, cleverness, dirty dealsâ€¦), you are trying to elevate yourself in order to escape from this no man s land.
The ghetto is a place that will require from you to have character and to be ready to face the worst. Closer to hell than to heaven, the ghetto s rough environment will shape you and teach you some hard life lessons.
How many people have dealt there with loads of unpleasant situations, trying to make the best out of their circumstances?
How many courageous women have struggled all alone, endorsing a man and a woman s role, keeping their heads up, for their kids sake?
How many kids have grown, left on their own, dealing with irresponsible parents, facing dangers and developing, day after day, the will to succeed, despite all?
How many people have seen their world turn into a nightmare within a few minutes over there?
How many people have watched their homies take bullets and die in front of their eyes?
As Detroit emcee Supa Emcee says, it s hard in the heart of the streets. Most people aren t outlaws by choice, but by necessity. Drug deals, hustle, robberies happen because many people are left with no other choice. It is truly a matter of survival.
The American government in particular will always try to censor emcees voices, because they point their fingers at the scars the same government left among the poorest classes of society.
Ice Cube s hit, Why We Thugs, explains the vicious system that was created by men who now claim to protect average citizens from a violent society that originated from their own policies.
Let s go down to the very heart of the streets, in which real emcees rap about real problems. It will remind you of the birth of hip hop. Hip hop was born in a state of perpetual emergency, in the Bronx. A bunch of people who knew how to handle a mic and instrumentals, put their flow in action and used it as an outlet for their rage.
A rage that offered the most realistic social commentary and strong political analysis of America s ghettos. A creative rage that was transformed into an abundant and rhythmic torrent of flooding words.
A rage that expressed the pain of racial and ethnic minorities.
The very heart of the hip hop spirit has much more to do with expressing people s pain than with making money, even though hip hop is a useful tool for skilled emcees to reach fame and fortune.
I want gangsta rappers to keep telling people about what is going on in the ghettos. I want them to describe the crude and awful reality like it is. It want them to keep pleasing our ears with high quality rhymes. I want the voice of the underprivileged to be heard and understood.
Many mainstream rappers need to realize that they are actually spoiling good and insightful hip hop in favor of a distasteful, superficial, bad quality hip hop. They are thus influencing a specific category of suburban teenagers to behave badly, making them believe that it is cool to be a drug addict or a violent thug. This is not what hip hop is about.
Hip hop is the mirror of the streets. It is the voice of the people who live and struggle in an horrific jungle of hatred, poverty and racial discrimination. It is probably the key to stopping racism and inequality, because of the strength of its message all over the years.
It will probably remain a fiction to many comfortable people who are unable to relate to the culture, though.
No matter how much people want to shut down the messenger, hip hop s message won t be overheard.
Not only do many emcees have something consistent to say, rap music is also about blessing a mic with some inventive rhymes, a tornado alike flow delivery totally matching with some good, rhythmic beats. In short, a real expression of talent.
Dig a little deeper and you will discover diamonds in the dirt of the depressing ghetto landscape, like its unique gem: quality rap music straight from the streets.
Copyright 2007 by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved