Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Have A Rap Problem


What's not to like about lyrics like: "If I wasn't in the rap game I'd probably have a key knee deep in the crack game Because the streets is a short stop Either your selling crack rocks or you got a wicked jump shot." [Notorious B.I.G., Things Done Changed]

I have a confession to make; I love hip hop music. Maybe it's my Jamaican roots, and growing up listening to toasters (The precursors of rap) like U-Roy, Stitchey, Dillinger, and Yellowman.
Not to mention the booming sound systems of King Tubby's Hi Fi, and Channel One. Somehow rap is in my blood. Even if now, as a forty something I am officially -as the young kids call it- an old head, and therefore not supposed to like rap, because people of my generation should be more into Frankie Beverly and Marvin Gaye, than say, Jay Z and Juvenile. But as proof of my devotion; right now in my ipod hip hop makes up at least half of what's in rotation. From old school stuff by Masta Ace, and Supercat, to newer stuff by Bun B, and Beanie Man.

Now I say confession, because loving hip hop lately (especially if you are in my age group) is like admitting that you have a secret vice like smoking, or gambling. And to be fair, hip hop and the industry that controls it, is partially to blame for the negative perceptions that often follows the genre.The beefs, the ignorant behavior by some posse members, not to mention the violent and misogynist lyrics by some of the more popular stars; has brought a real black eye to the art form and the life style it represents.

The irony is that rappers who the industry chooses to promote -insert 50 Cent here- are not even as talented as many struggling rappers with much more positive messages to bring to the fore. I would much rather listen to The Roots or Common, than say, Fiddy-As white suburbanites love to call him, or Nelly for that matter.

It's all making it much harder to defend the industry and the artist that are a part of it. The other day I was with a group of thirty something and forty something black professionals, and for some reason, the conversation turned to the sad state of rap music and its negative effects on our young people. Every one in the group was getting their two cents in, and although I hate to say it; were all making good points. Slowly one person, and then the other, noticed I wasn't saying anything; (highly unusual for me) and so of course, they all looked at me right on cue. At that very moment my hip hop dilemma was crystallized. I mean, how could I knock something which I love and have loved all my life, but at the same time defend something that have sort of betrayed me? Now I knew what mothers felt like when their children did wrong, and I really had no answer. "Well I like hip hop, and I think it's just a few bad apples making it bad for the rest of the artist.." I hoped that was good enough, but of course it wasn't. "What about the way they degrade women and call us bi****s? Or the ignorant glorification of materialism, and violence?" Every group has one, the mouthpiece and the confronter, that just didn't know enough to let an uncomfortable moment pass. She was right of course, and the truth is, I didn't have an answer for her. "What about it?" I said; clearly losing an argument I did not want. "Why do you listen to that crap, and support those companies that push all that negative stuff into our communities?" She was now bordeline angry; and of course, every one in the group was waiting for my response. "I don't know I grew up with it, and it's kinda in my blood" "But I thought you were from Jamaica?", every group has one of these too, the curious who wants to learn, and who will engage you whenever they see an opportunity to get some knowledge. I took my opening like Walter Payton busting out of the back field. "Well yes, let me explain that to you; you see rapping really started in the dance halls of Jamaica..."

So I got out of an uncomfortable situation with some friends. But those annoying questions stay in my conscience, and unfortunately, I know that a lot of what the confronter was saying is true. Rap and hip hop has to change directions fast, because it's getting to that tipping point where it's starting to do more harm than good in our communities. I know it has made a lot of people wealthy, and has even given some who previously didn't have hope a chance to be a part of a bigger movement. But the ignorance and violence has got to stop. And these young bucks have to start learning to respect their craft and its history. This will at least make it easier for this old head to defend hip hop to a bunch of other old heads, who just don't happen to have it in their bloods.

"I seen hoop dreams deflate like a true friends weight to try and to fail the two things I hate Succeed in this rap game the two things that great" [Jay-Z, H.O.V.A.]

Tell em Jigga!







18 comments:

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

FN, you may know my human companion, Michael--He does criminal defence.

Anyway, I agree with you about rap and hiphop.

The problem is that most of this music is of the "gangsta" variety.

Isn't being a gangsta a form of cooning?

Anonymous said...

Yes it is. See my take on the G-Unit when I talk about popular cultures top coons!

FN

ugz said...

I am a fanatic hiphop head. I dont like hiphop criticizers and the hiphop savers... and I am talking about the ones within the hiphop culture that speak out to saving hiphop and such.

Hiphop is not anybody's to save, furthermore even for those who claim "I am HIPHOP, like KRS1, I dont know if we have the resource or time to save hiphop (no time to save yourself) whatever the saving process is.

What do you do when you dont even have time to save yourself FN? Do you become a canon fodder... we shall discuss more on that...but more on hiphop...

It would be smart to use it to our advantage now mind you, but it ain't all that.

As for me, I choose the music I listen to carefully but that doesn't mean, I don't bump- ish like "girl gimme dat..." Sometimes I feel like that ...! I do! :)

I will not be put in a box becuase I am a conscious person->I wont listen to certain artist.... I won't lie, I dont listen to 50 cent, but you know I can't help to listen to a catchy Hip Hop tune.

Here goes what I have been bumping lately...

Michael Rose: African Roots
Ras Kass: Soul On Ice
Rza: The Cure
M1: Confidential--> disappointed but still

Looking forward to: The 5% Album from Lord Jama;

mark said...

FN such truth needs to be spoken from the blog moutain top. I was going to add some stuff but you pretty much covered it. Just one thing dont forget how they glory selling drugs, dont know how it is up Phil town but down here in DC they smoke weed right on thier front porches right in front of kids playing outside. Is this a form of cooning. Mark

mark said...

FN when I saw this post I immediately ran to my secret place where I hides myself away sometimes. I then begin to build a special soap box ( FIELD NEGRO is emroitered on the sides), after working very hard all day sunday (our only day off)I have finally finished it. I am sending the box to you in Phil town via underground rail. I hope this gift of appreciation makes it easier for you to preach the truth from from the blog moutaintop. P.S there is a secret compartment containing a 2 year supply of coon and dumb negro repellent. But be it should only be used against coons, not against all people who disagree with you. If preaching the truth or the repellent arent enough, the soap box has been treated with a special chemical that makes it harder than any coon's coconut. If push comes to shove you can knock these coons upside the head with the soap box if it gets that down and dirty. By the way Flavor Flav has just earned his Profersor Tenureship at The University of Coonville. What are you going to do about it

Anonymous said...

Please hurry and shoots me dat dere special chemical broda Mark I has me sum coons to spray wit it. Plees sen it by di undergroun railway likes we planned,cause i nu think dat di preachin is enuf.

FN :)

mark said...

(Thru my laughter) God bless you feild negro. Mark

mark said...

Field Negro did you know that slaves often helped union pow escapees during the civil war. It is fascinating I dont know how much you know about it , but it is truly rich and interesting. Mark

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

You are one smart puppy, FN!

ugz said...

Laci:

back in the days I saw a movie called Sheba or something... its a british horror about an old woman who is obsessed with her cats that she actually acquire their personality trait... now I went to your myspace... and you got dogs all over... dogs as your friends...dogs as your neighbours... dogs as YOU???!!!!

(SHIVER) not healthy....

Anonymous said...

Laci; you are watching British horror movies and you think I have a problem?

I think it's time for a reality check!

BTW, now that you mention it, I do have some dogs as friends :)

FN

Anonymous said...

Sorry Laci, I thought you were the one watching the British horror movies. UGZ what the F*** are you doing watching british horror movies? Explain that to me one day :)

FN

ugz said...

LOL!

I will. I will.

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