Geraldo Rivera tried to slam Kendrick Lamar, as well as hip-hop as a whole, after the Compton rapper’s performance at the BET Awards this summer. Geraldo used his platform to blanket hip-hop as hate, while Kendrick used his response to invoke his First Amendment right. Now, America may be using the song in question – “Alright” – as an anthem.
Marchers took to the streets of Washington D.C. this past weekend, chanting the words to the song while celebrating the Million Man March 20-year anniversary. (See video below.)
So why does hip-hop garner so much negative condemnation?
When you look up the definition of music, you will see terms like “melody, harmony, art and expression.” Most music is written according to life experience, a symphonic mural of the artist’s view of his or her life. Hip-hop has always seemed to be at the forefront of debate. Hip-hop is more than just music, it’s a fashion, it’s a language, it’s a business, it’s a culture. No genre in the history of music has been made to carry such a heavy burden. Now you want to say “it,” meaning “Hip-Hop,” has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism?
One of the most controversial records of all time is “Cop Killer” written by Ice-T and Ernie C of heavy metal band, Body Count. I always found it interesting that with all the controversy and backlash surrounding that particular song, only hip-hop was made to tow the negativity. They don’t have press conferences about heavy metal bands singing about domestic violence and suicide. I haven’t heard it said that Madonna is to blame for the promiscuity of young women or that Lady Gaga’s whole mantra is damaging to the wholesome fabric of young White America.
Marvin Gaye’s 1971 record “What’s Going On” is a lyrical look at the social consciences of that era. If you listen to that album today, those same things mentioned are still happening. There was said to be debate about the release of that album because of the political ramifications of it, as well as what it might do to Marvin’s image. The portrait he painted of the hardships and outcries of that era still exist today. The line “picket lines and picket signs, don’t punish me with brutality” was speaking of protest and police brutality long before hip-hop’s inception. I don’t recall Marvin Gaye or R&B music being held responsible for the Vietnam War, or the riots that were going on right here on American soil.
In the case of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright“ from his smash album To Pimp A Butterfly, the song speaks of the hope for his community, despite everything going on in it. This album is a metaphoric look at the life Kendrick has lived, and each track is a chapter, much like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” In order to give a proper interpretation of any song, you must listen to it in its entirety. If hip-hop is so damaging, doesn’t Big Sean’s “Blessings” give young people hope? Although we have freedom of expression, isn’t it an adult’s responsibility to exercise their due diligence as parents to adhere to the warning labels if young African-Americans are not old enough to interpret them?
In my opinion, hip-hop has not done more damage to young African-Americans than racism in recent years, it’s the ignorance of a lifetime that has done the most damage. People are afraid of what they don’t understand. Most can’t relate to or see what’s going on in urban areas, so when the verbal picture is painted, it is viewed as a rally cry of hate instead of a chant for hope and change. Hip-hop has produced a billionaire such as Dr. Dre. The Godfather of Hip-Hop, Russell Simmons and rapper Jay Z are multi-million dollar business moguls, according to Forbes. MC Lyte is the voice of BET television network, rapper Yo-Yo was chosen to speak before congress by the legendary Maxine Waters. N.W.A member Ice Cube is now a major movie writer/producer. Rappers LL Cool J, 50 Cent and Queen Latifah are major film actors/actresses. How about the fact that hip-hop produced Nelly, a rapper that makes sure young African-Americans go to college every year, and T.I.’s Family Hustle, which is all about positive family values? You see, racism is a belief of hate/fear that has been taught and passed down for generations. The misconception is that racism doesn’t exist, reality is it does, the presentation is just different, and it existed long before hip-hop. Instead of condemning hip-hop, try educating the masses so the things the artists are rapping about can change and the hate that is being taught by the miseducated can die. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “But if God got us we then gon’ be ALRIGHT.” Read More
Old School Hip Hop Garners Negative Condemnation
Have you ever had a conversation with someone about a statement they made and you didn’t agree with it, but then after listening to their explanation on what they said you say “OH yeah I get it, you got a point.” Then after you do some research you say “ummmmm well??”
First and foremost let me start off by saying I’m a fan of music in itself, meaning all kinds in many different formats and genres. I’m that chick that is not satisfied with just listening to it I have to know everything about it, including why, who and when. I am also not a fan of slamming music into boxes, for intense reason I believe that labeling some music such as neo soul is extremely detrimental to artists and music as to how it is distributed and marketed and I am a firm believer that because of that term we the fan miss out on a lot of great artists and music, with me being in the music cypher I catch a lot of stuff (hence me creating my own personal blog) where many people don’t get a chance to experience their artistry (just my opinion and yes I know opinions are like….but it’s my blog). Sooo with all that being said….I was surfing Instagram so I hello I’m BridgetEE… never mind a terrible attempt to make a someone else’s rap my own, anyway I ran across a post from an artist and it said and I quote “If you love True School Hip-Hop and call me “OLD SCHOOL”, you are hurting an era of music you love. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t spend good money on an OLD car, but you would certainly purchase a CLASSIC vehicle. Rock, Jazz, Country and Rock fans refer to their past artists as “Classics”. This maintains their value and allows them to continue making a living doing what they love and what you enjoy. Unfortunately, we cannot collectively grow if we don’t collectively change. STOP referring to us as “OLD” and start referring to us as “CLASSIC”. End quote. So I called up the author of this post, and as always was given a very educated and clear cut answer as to why this statement is so and why it is such a condemning term (“condemning term” was my word to define this not his). According to this artist he says that word Old School hurts them as artists moving forward in their future endeavors pertaining to their artistry (I’m paraphrasing of course). He said the term makes them out to be senior citizens so to speak, he said you don’t refer to The Rolling Stones as old school etc etc you get my drift. My reply was I thought it was like a term of endearment, his response was, so is the “N” word if we use it but not if someone else does. Touché. So I thought the conversation was extremely intriguing and was worthy of more than just our opinion, with that being said I decided to do a little research on set topic and this is what I turned up.
I first turned to the Merriam-Websters dictionary as well as The Urban dictionary and here is what they deemed the definition of “Old School” was:
: typical of an earlier style or form : based on a way of doing things that was common in the past
: using or supporting traditional practices
Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect. Can be used to refer to music, clothing, language, or anything really.
Rap » Hip-Hop/Urban » Old-School Rap
Old-School Rap is the style of the very first rap artists who emerged from New York City in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Old school is easily identified by its relatively simple raps — most lines take up approximately equal amounts of time, and the rhythms of the language rarely twisted around the beats of the song. The cadences usually fell squarely on the beat, and when they didn’t, they wouldn’t stray for long, returning to the original pattern for quick resolution. The emphasis was not on lyrical technique, but simply on good times — aside from the socially conscious material of Grandmaster Flash, which greatly expanded rap’s horizons, most old-school rap had the fun, playful flavor of the block parties and dances at which it was born. In keeping with the laid-back, communal good vibes, old-school rap seemed to have more room and appreciation for female MCs, although none achieved the higher profile of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five or the Sugarhill Gang. Some old-school songs were performed over disco or funk-style tracks, while others featured synthesized backing (this latter type of music, either with or without raps, was known as electro). Old-school rap’s recorded history begins with two 1979 singles, Fatback’s “King Tim III” and the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” although the movement had been taking shape for almost a decade prior. Sugarhill Records quickly became the center for old-school rap, dominating the market until Run-D.M.C. upped the ante for technique and hardcore urban toughness in 1983-84. Their sound and style soon took over the rap world, making old-school’s party orientation and ’70s funk influences seem outdated. When compared with the more complex rhythms and rhyme schemes of modern-day rap — or even the hip-hop that was being produced less than ten years after “Rapper’s Delight” — old-school rap can sound dated and a little unadventurous. However, the best old-school tracks retain their liveliness as great party music no matter what the era, holding up surprisingly well considering all that’s happened since.
After much reading on this topic I love the way AllMusic.com broke it down, because going back to the argument that the term Old School holds negative condemnation, I originally thought it was a term of endearment and although I hear that we use other terms of endearment that are in fact a negative, on this particular term I don’t all the way believe it so. Now is where after reading all of this I inject my thoughts. Hip Hop in itself is its own movement, for the sake of this article I’m going to refer to Hip Hop as women, reason being that because of it in the music world and in society itself, it gave birth to its own culture. Hip Hop became an expression in fashion a form of dance it also became a language giving birth to its own dictionary. Hip Hop changed Black Tie events and award shows into couture fashion shows. Because of Hip Hop dungarees became high fashion jeans and making MissMe and True Religion and over $100 a pair must have. Chuck Taylor changed his address from Kmart to the Mall; no longer was Chanel the scent of elegance; Hip Hop gave you Nicki Minaj. Because of Hip Hop Fubu, Cross Colors and Troop jogging suits not only provided us with a fashion it also provide some that look like us to profit like others. Because of Hip Hop a $5 dollar adjustable ball cap became a $25 dollar snap back a $2 dollar winter stocking cap became a $30 “beanie” and at one time a Kangol hat was the brand only a business professional donned but Hip Hop made it their niche in head wear. The only reason there is an Urban dictionary is because the culture of Hip Hop is so deep and rich that it is now a necessity for others to now understand and interpret it. Do you know Hip Hop culture generates revenue in all US and foreign business aspects from as small as the barber shop to as large as the auto industry? Let’s not limit Hip Hop to that; Hip Hop owns land as well as precious jewels, hell Hip Hop owns major league sports teams, who would have thought that the Jigga Man would become Mr. Carter, not hood rich but wealthy . Marketing on everything worth being sold revolves around the Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop also gave birth to producers, musicians, song writers, distinguished actors and actresses, it also has produced its own restaurant owners and CEO’s. Hip Hop has now given birth to genres (gangsta, gospel, West Coast, East Coast, Dirty South). Do you realize that the world would not know who LL Cool J or Queen Latifah were nor would Russell Simmons have become an American business magnate if it not were for? Because of Hip Hop a major network called BET has called MC Lyte their voice, or how about this if there were no Hip Hop we may not even have a BET. It’s not just in the club, Hip Hop found its way into lecture halls, hospitals, classrooms and boardrooms as well as The White House (who would think that we would live to see a black president in our life time and a hip hop head ta boot). Because of Hip Hop our young brothas and sistas now have a vehicle to express their inner talents that releases them from inner city mental slavery, giving them hope that they now can truly be anything they want to be because you see Hip Hop is attached to everything now that is in scotched in our modern day history.
So you see if someone tries in their breath to paint the term Old School as old, fat and dried up, use these words to plant in their minds knowledge: that old produced innovators of art, creators of social consciousness and global economic development. Plant the seeds of leaders, creators and revenue. Remind them that a mere lump of coal becomes a diamond that holds value for times to come. Remind them that no matter how many times you melt down gold it will always remain gold and that platinum had value in the 80’s as well as in the new millennium. Remind them that in order to get to your future you must never forget your past, and watch this: just because you find an old piece of jewelry, time didn’t decrease its value because it will always appreciate with age. Time stands still for no man but it can’t run without history. They say in Heaven we will not be recognized by our physical being but by our souls, our spirit and just like these things live forever so will the forefathers, originators and cold cut creators. Beauty is only skin deep and is truly in the eyes of the beholder so instead of allowing yourself as well others to think that Old School is a term of condemnation, show them it is a term that calls for a great deal of celebration. Congratulations Old School, you gave birth to world-altering change and hope which makes you Kings and Queens garnering you all the riches and respect the world has to offer, and you sho do look damn good to me. So today I bow to you Old School Hip Hop and the entire sell out shows you bestow today in the New School. Sooo Old School doesn’t look or sound so bad after all now? J
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds” Bob Marley
As all always please absorb the mediations of my mind responsibly.
BridgetEE, Editor and Chief and CEO of www.bridgetebloghouse.com, aren’t you glad you came 🙂
special thanks to Lil D of http://www.thewordeyeheard.com for your editing help!! 🙂