RAPPER-LEGEND “DMC” SAYS: “The reason why hip-hop exists is because it started out with good intentions, once all the good intentions left the music became polluted, it became disrespectful it became immature.“
To my friend DMC, I want to say the other truth about hip hop is that people wanted & needed to express themselves, such as they do in dance, on canvass and in film. Hip hop is just another one of those vehicles for such expression, such as classical, jazz & rock. If you think expression started “because” there were “good intentions,” I’d hafta disagree. People/artists have been expressing themselves since the beginning of time/and hip hop din have anything to do with it. However, I will agree that such radical expressions (at the time when hip hop began) wouldn’t be permitted because the temperature (in Rome) wouldn’t allow it. There was a time that saying “fuck the police” was offensive and the artist (ICE T) was even persecuted for it. Today, its the norm in music to challenge authority. At one point Luke Campbell & his 2Live Crew got hit with the dragon flames of American conscience as local record-store owners were arrested on obscenity charges for selling the group’s albums. There was a time that saying “nappy headed hoes” was offensive. Today its the norm, unless you happen to be a celeb in the spotlight and your audience is suddenly outraged by your comments #PaulaDean. Not to mention today, Don Imus has his job back/as if controversy never happened. These various thresholds that have emerged through the past few decades are none but the “new” envelope that is being pushed everyday. We’re talking envelopes of race, gender, class, sexuality, morality and then some. And while these issues are being confronted (about what people say and the ideas behind them) and that they hit the public conscience with stealth speed, we can’t forget that movies add imagery to the same concepts, (yet worse), whether its sexual perversion, shooting police, genocide, rape, or bloody murder. All of these issues are routinely broadcasted in movies as if its all good. Its normal and okay and you can win awards for the same.
People simply need to express themselves, their fears, frustrations and anxieties. People need to stretch into their dreams and nightmares. These ideas and conspiracy theories, though they are not real and only in our minds, need to be exposed. If not, they contribute to pent-up rage, and in other cases (without the so called artistry) folks have indeed taken it upon themselves to exercise these activities in real-time.
Darryl-DMC-McDaniels is no seasoned professional who can speak intelligently to the measure of responsibility/complete with degrees and a world of education to substantiate his claims. (Sorry D) He’s simply speaking his mind. His right to do so. But here we go, putting the burdens of the world on hip-hop once again. And what can you do since hip-hop has the eyes and ears and popular conscience and the entire generation of our youth. Everyone sees the brainwashing that’s going on on the radio, on TV, in the ball stadiums… It’s just the fact that hip-hop has a big influence on what we do every day. That is, if you allow it to.
So we can argue up and down how it is good and bad and how it affects us all. However, I have become proactive relating to my own conscience, training myself to “flip the switch.” And that does not mean turning off hip-hop altogether or discounting it and all of its many value/good and bad. What that does mean, is that I have trained myself to make adjustments on my musical diet. My listening diet, my reading diet, my watching diet is all about my purpose and my level of interest and my entertainment values. With so much information fed to us all day everyday, and if we open up our minds, ears and our eyes, we can go into information overload! And its addictive! Who wouldn’t want to know all things and be in knowledgeable about all things to perhaps put that information to work, maybe earn a living and at the same time share their eye on the world? Deny it if you want, but I’m figuring a VERY large share of us wouldn’t mind that at all. In fact, many others are bunked-in, working that very magic.
Okay, so we all (most of us) grow up, and we become more responsible for our actions and our conversations. Our musical tastes even adjust; we’re all fine-tuned. At least, in theory and practice, thats the way its been. Sure, there are isolated instances where some of our older folk have not grown or matured and some are even popular for their “off the hook” expressions. But there’s a long list of some well-known performers/personalities/etc and how they’ve “crossed-over” from their radical, wild-side to the sanctified and otherwise righteous world: I’m immediately thinking: Eddie Murphy, Prince, Malcolm X. All of them have grown up, matured to whatever degree, and their fellowship has somewhat grown with them.
In fairness, I need to add that the world which supports hip hop has equally become as disrespectful and immature; but also vulgar, arrogant, bloody and raunchy. In my lifetime I have seen up to a dozen world leaders dragged, executed, beheaded, hung, etc because of their monstrous tactics in leadership. I’ve seen death on TV, in movies, on the web… I have witnessed some leaders abuse their authority to take our children, using them for their own sexual pleasure, and because of their power and influence, they’ve gotten “a pass.” Sure, judge and jury couldn’t get at them but for loopholes, but in the past mere rumor would’ve ended the lives of the Bishop Longs and the Woody Allens. They would’ve been stoned, executed or hung with much less a threshold of law to answer to. So then, the expression of anxieties and imagination has crossed over into reality. Some got away with it. Others didn’t #OJ Yet, we must ALL agree that our culture is OVERLY and OVERTLY influenced by what is printed and broadcasted. I’d hafta agree that I am just as influenced (respectively) by hip hop as I am by TMZ, as I am CNN, as I am by movies, TV & radio. But I’ve realized this early on, and so I understand what has happened and I have re-programmed my listening and watching and reading diet. By and by its all whimsical, its all life imitating art, and the only rule you should keep in your shirt pocket is “Play at your own risk.”