Hip-hop music is known to be a value player to violence, drugs, and gangs. Through time people looked down on this music genre as degrading, and mindless sound. On the contrary, music has provided many forms of services to community, a way to express oneself, a motivational tool, and it influences many people to do better in their lives. Hip-hop should not be judged so harshly by its culture, the people who represent it, and the lyrics.
Hip-hop itself gave people a genre to bond over and to communicate through. In the article, “Like Hip-Hop is Like No Other” Craig Watkins states that rap music “has remained, by
and large, a defiantly “black” musical form. That does not mean that other ethnicities and nationalities have not embraced rap and fashioned it to speak to their own conditions” (63). Hip-hop has also broken down barriers between races. There are often open intelligent debates about who is the best rapper and why. Hip-hop allows many people to listen to someone they both like, and to meet on a common ground with each other. Even though people feud over the best rapper and can create animosity, does not mean it is bad. Hip-hop just like Rock has its setbacks.
Many hip-hop artists have started outreach programs for the youth and their community. Such as Snoop Dogg and Nelly, both started a youth football team to keep kids off of the streets. Some artist fund different charity events, or even on a charity of their own. Russell Simmons has many scholarship opportunities for college students. Some artist may do it to get a good tax break, but what does it matter of their motivates if they are helping someone else? Also Kanye West was recognized by American Association of Endodontists the fifth best Black Celebrity Philanthropists of 2007. Kanye West also started the “Kanye West Foundation” in Chicago, IL in 2003. He hosted the inaugural benefit concert for his establishment that launched the foundations partnership with Strong American Schools. He is focused on helping Latino and African-American children stay in school and to get a suitable education through grade school, high school, and college.
According to Wikipedia, Kanye West donated over 500,000 dollars to his foundation. He also appeared and participated in many fundraisers, benefit concerts, and community work that include the Hurricane Katrina Fundraiser, Kanye West Foundation, Millions More Movement, 100 Black Men of America, Live Earth concert benefit, World Water Day rally and march, Nike runs, and a MTV special that shows firsthand Kanye West helping give young Iraq War veterans that struggle through debt a second chance after returning home. Kanye west is only one of many hip-hop artists that contribute to the community through their wallets and time.
Many artist such as Diddy, Common, Nas and Young Jezzy, are into politics and promoting the youth to vote, or PSA. Diddy created a campaign to get the youth motivated to vote. Common uses his influenced voice to support the awareness of HIV/AIDs, and promoting safe sex. Young Jezzy met with both Barock Obama and John McCain, they discussed their political views. Young Jezzy, alongside Nas, has created a song called “My President”, which discusses the United States issues, such as welfare, the recession, Katrina, and other issues. He shows that he support Senator Obama, and feel he is the change America needs. Nas shows his thought of Fox network promoting propaganda, and degrading minorities’ or middle class citizens, through his song “Sly Fox”.
Some hip-hop artists show a level of intelligence through their music. Nas resent album “Untitled”, also known as “Nigger” is controversial, but expels the misleading uses of the word. His album explains that the word means ignorant. Than explains that people are ignorant therefore, they are niggers. His album breaks into racism and tries to take a hated word of power and diminishes it. Then goes on to explain, that African-American, low income Caucasian, Latinos, and other lower class citizens are niggers. In his song, “We’re Not Alone,” Nas says, “…I think it just recent; where everybody just started to feel like there was an elite group that runs everything, and everybody else was sheep ignorant making all ethnicities colors and creeds niggers blind to what really is going on…” Although this is his opinion he is showing a level of intelligence and not dancing, or rooting the youth mind with nonsense. His music allows people to think, and gives people a topic to debate.
Kanye may not be a promising person to motivate someone through college, but he does fell you need high school, and he feels that you must follow your heart to succeed. He taught the youth that dreams can come true if you work hard and put forth they’re best effort. Lil Wayne went back to school to obtain a degree, and yet he makes more than six figures yearly. Many hip-hop artist value education, and promote it through their music.
Hip-hop is an art, and like any art the music expresses the artist. According to Craig Watkins, “Perhaps unlike any other form of popular culture in recent memory, hip-hop has become the voice of choice for young people who find themselves on the margins” (63). When people are stress, depressed, angry, or lonesome they write their feeling to a piece of paper. A lot of artists explain their old life through their songs, or speck of someone they want to be or who they are. Even if their life has a bad influence on others, it stills their life. Who are we to dictate their life; there are many nude pictures in a museum. The news show gross stories of death and hate around the world.
The lyrics behind the music paint a story strong enough to see and feel. It take skills to rhyme a story of someone life over a beat, while maintaining a sincere feeling. Hip-hop lyrics come off strong and are full of metaphors and similes. Although the lyrics may not be child friendly, but some children hear their parents curse as away to reveal their feelings. The artist is cursing in the same manner. If it was such a problem parents need to use their authority over their kids and tell them not to listen to it.
Some of the male lyrics degrade woman, which is frowned upon by feminist, mothers, daughters, fathers alike. This may seem wrong to you, but to them it is their life experiences and what they do. Woman that dance sexually in hip-hop videos are there on their chose and is not force to be there. Some female artists degrade man talking down on them, having them dance half-naked in music videos. Why is this not equally as wrong as a woman being degraded? Woman will like fair treatment equal to man, therefore female artist deserve the same anger male artist get.
The lingo used in hip-hop is another language for the artist, or listeners to express themselves. It is a way to make conversation fun and interesting. Also during slavery Africans’ separate languages were striped from them and forced to learn English. Creating slang allowed African- American to reach back to their roots.
Hip-hop clothing gave people a variety of choices to be different, and to present themselves in a comfortable way. The why artist wear their clothes gave them an identity, just like rock & roll artist, or even pop artist. The clothing market produces an abundant amount of revenue yearly. Nas states in his song “Y’all My Niggas”, “…so what if my pants sag with my hat turned back? The same swag got our merchandise flying off the rack Marketing companies is hiring blacks Fresh hip-hop lingo for your campaign ads”. His boss Jay-z, owner of Roca-Fella and clothing line, markets most of his revenue from hip-hop artist, clothing, and his share in the New York Jets. Some people feel are clothes are too baggy, sloppy, and just ugly. Some people fell to remember in their childhood their style of clothes were looked at the same way.
Hip-hop is misunderstood by many people, which I personally feel is wrong. Before judgments should be passed the research needs to be done. These artists made many community attributions. The genre is a lot deeper than what it may seem. That is why hip-hop should not be judged so harshly by its culture, the people who represent it, and the lyrics.
Jones, Nasir. “We’re Not Alone.” Untitled. Roca-Fella , 2008.
Jones, Nasir. “Y’ll My Niggas.” Untitled. Roca-Fella , 2008.
Watkins, S. Craig. “Why Hip-Hop Is Like No Other.” Unknown (2005): 63.
“Wekipedi .” novermber 2008. 20 november 2008