Coming in to work yesterday I was undoubtedly listening to Joe Madison on the Urban View. Of course that’s the morning routine I’ve come to love and all my readers have come to know about me! So he brings up the topic of Geraldo Rivera and some comments he made about Hip Hop affecting the black community more than racism has in the last 10 years. I listened to the callers and their perspective on Geraldo even though I often hate the things that come out of this man’s mouth. I don’t think anything I’ve ever heard him say about Blacks didn't sound like he absolutely believes the worst of us. Trust me, I know that there are things that aren’t so great about my people but it goes for everyone! You’ve got some bad apples in every bunch. But the statement that he made in generalizing our race as being worse off because of music than racism is absolutely absurd. When we talk about racism we are talking about the systematic suppression of a race because they don’t look like you. Holding them back because of prejudices unjustified and unwarranted. There is no way those two things go in the same category even if damage is done to some through music. These are two totally different scales of measurement.
A few years ago I watched a sermon called The Truth Behind Hip Hop (http://www.exministries.com/truth-behind-hip-hop/). I had almost forgotten about it because it was so long ago but for a minute after I watched it, I stopped listening to a lot of things. I think subconsciously, even now, I still don’t listen to a lot of things because they don’t make sense to me or line up with my train of thought. Don’t get me a wrong, I like a lot of Hip Hop and a lot of R&B I know lyrically aren't going to get my soul into Heaven, but for the most part, I’m aware of the words that I listen to. The sermon truly broke down artists and the words they rapped. Bone Thugs, Tupac, Snoop Dog. And this wasn’t current day. This is when Hip Hop and Rap apparently wasn’t so bad right? This preacher broke down just how much of an impact that music has on individuals. It moves you. It can change your mood from sad to happy or resurface a memory from a time in your life that you enjoyed or felt pain. It can connect you and disconnect you from things. It can change your mind. It can redirect your heart. That’s a powerful thing. I will say that regardless to where this preacher came from and how this message was put on his heart, the words that he spoke made sense. What you surround yourself with you can become if you aren’t grounded in your faith, whatever that may be for you. So do I believe that music has changed things for our race somewhat…………yes I can say I do.
Just like everything in the Black community, Hip Hop has been ransacked and exploited by those who seek money. Without a question the music can often be violent, degrading and lack the substance that it once did when rappers were speaking more about rising above our circumstances and living harmoniously amongst ourselves. Women are bitches and hoes and everyone is a nigga of some sort. All most of them seem to do everyday is smoke, drink, party and have sex. Okay…………..I hear you. You think it sells so you put it out there. The kids buy in to it because they want this life they think is so great because they see it on TV not knowing that none of it is yours because it’s all rented. Selling a fake dream. Some kids buy it and some don’t. How many people today can say that they have the same outlook on life in their thirties they had in their teens or early twenties? (If you say you do then I’m not talking to you and there is something terribly wrong with you!!!)
There is nothing we can do when the demand has changed and those driving the market are signing the checks. The question then is should a Jay-Z or a Russell Simmons or a Diddy be blamed for that? Are they facilitating the demise of our youth through music? I partially say no to that because they have only decided to be the masters of their own domains. They are getting the same money that white execs who began pushing our music down this road have gotten long before they decided to own their own labels and cultivate their own artists. I truly don’t believe that they are always pushing the music that most of us who appreciate good music despise. I know for me I don’t even attempt to listen to it and even though I can’t always filter what my son listens to, I make sure that I’m paying attention. That’s really all we can do as parents and mentors. As time goes on and the world changes things are becoming more acceptable and not as taboo because of the way that our younger generation lives their lives. The “I don’t care what you think of me or say about me” attitude has began to take over. Embracing one’s sexuality has become something that has opened the gateway to exposure and sex on a level far beyond what was going on when our parents were younger. Putting my bacon in your frying pan has now become something so much more graphic in the lyrics today but indicates the freedom that they feel now. We had a Silk and Jocedi and a Color Me Bad growing up. There is no way we should have been listening to that stuff but it didn’t make us want to run out and start sleeping around. Choices!
What bothers me more about it though is the perception the world has of people of color. What they see is not who we are. They don’t see all of our scholars, doctors, lawyers, accountants, managers, business owners. They think we all rap, strip, live in the hood or play sports (whatever else I left out). Now that’s what we should worry about right there. That worldwide the world sees us in a light totally different than the majority of our population shines under. I remember when I was in India, it was late and I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up and surfed through the few American channels they had in the hotel. They really never showed black shows so I watched The Nanny a lot for the time I was there. The few movies that ever did come on were old school movies like Harlem Nights and stuff like that. Movies where we were gangsters. Even how they dealt with me there in comparison to my white counterparts showed that people of color mean nothing at all and how they see us isn’t just because of the type of music we produce. It’s so much more than that. We can’t weight everything wrong in the last ten years with us to music. We have the whole world to prove wrong about who they truly think we are. Bigger Issue?………………..I think so!
The manner in which many of our youth and young adults conduct themselves is because of what they take on to themselves. Not only are they filling themselves with things that are not solely attributed to music but the music coupled with bad parenting, lack of faith and an inner circle who too lacks that same stability. Most young people who have a solid foundation at home are not as easily swayed. However, I am a firm believer that whoever your children are they will be no matter what they listen to, who they hang with or what kind of parent you are. A great parent can raise a murderer and a doctor in the same house. The chips fall where they fall and that’s the truth of the matter. So we cannot just say that things have changed and caused so much confusion in our communities just because things are more opened and uncensored or because Black executives have decided to be the ones producing and allowing the distribution of this music. We have several factors here and many of them stem from the brokenness we suffer as a community because of the fact that the world is afraid of a skin color that they lack the privilege to have. The world is a circle and it spins in a circle and things happen in cycles. If we are diligent in standing up and supporting more expressive artists with more substance in their music, this cycle we are in shall pass as well.
Until Next Time Lovies!