Thursday, September 13, 2007

Indefensible Music

I can no longer defend Hip-Hop music. I can't defend the materialism, the misogyny, the glorification of drug-use and the criminal lifestyle, the glorification of violence against other Black people. I can't defend it on the grounds that it is just reflecting what's been going on in the streets for years. It isn't. It is glorifying it and thereby perpetuating it.

I was listening to a song the other day with lyrics that talked about being in love with "The dope boy". Too far. What the hell kind of message is that to send to young Black kids? We are growing a generation of criminals. Uneducated, unaware, uncultured, unconscious criminals. A generation where you get more respect from your peers for going to prison than for going to college. We are growing a generation of kids who care more about the rims on their cars and the diamonds on their fingers than providing for their families.

I remember back in the eighties when Hip-hop music was extremely materialistic and was all about how much gold you had around your neck and what kind of sneakers you wore or what kind of designer frames. Kids were gettin' beatin' up for their sneakers, losing eyes because some overzealous thief was trying to snatch off their Cazels and had poked them in the eye in the process, getting shot and robbed of their necks full of solid gold slave chains. It was ridiculous and there was no doubt that the music was perpetuating this. It became even more evident that this materialism was being driven by the music industry when music caused it to change. Namely, Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, X-Clan, and even the Native Tongue Family of Brand Nubians, De La Soul, and groups that began to promote unity and Black awareness and the search for knowledge rather than gettin' yours at all cost. Suddenly it was cool to read a book, to treat your sister like a Black Queen instead of a mere sexual conquest, to treat your brother like your brothers instead of criminal opportunities or obstacles on your own road to success. We have now slid backwards.

Jay-Z, 50 cent, Cash Money Records, and many others like them have raised the type of materialism that took hold of the ghettoes in the eighties to all new heights. Instead of Gold it's now about Platinum and diamonds. Instead of Lincolns and Cadillacs it's now about Mercedes and Lexus. It's about expensive Champagne, $2,000 rims for your car, a new Rolex, all the things most black people cannot afford and should not even be worrying about. The exploitation of women in music have now reached heights undreamed of by previous generations. Gangsta rap has now given way to, for lack of a better word, "Bling Rap", which is every bit as dangerous.

When gangsta rap first hit besides all the negative affects it had it did have one positive. It made it cool to be poor, and the grimier the better. Groups like Wu Tang Clan and Onyx brought grimy to a whole new level, even as recently as 2000 DMX was still championing the cause of the grimy though he still carried all the other ills of gangsta rap in the glorification of violence, crime, and misogyny. Now, having anything less than platinum on your neck, rims on your car, and a bottle of Cristal in your hand, makes you a sucker to most fans of Hip-hop. So in addition to those now willing to sell-drugs to their own people, which is about the biggest sell-out you can be in my opinion. A Black Republican who votes against Affirmative Action is less of an Uncle Tom than a Black Drug dealer selling drugs in his own community and killing other Black people over drug turf, though slightly less of an Uncle Tom than the fool who glorifies it in song. But I digress, in addition to the gangstas, we now have idiots ruining their credit trying to live up to this new ridiculous cultural aesthetic of conspicuous wealth. It is pure stupidity and yes the music is to blame. So, fuck Hip-hop! That's right, fuck it. If you are still stupid enough to listen to this crap it will still continue to get made.

Support Mos Def. Support Talib Kwali. Support The Roots. Support Common. Fuck Jay-Z. Fuck 50 Cent. Fuck Lil' Wayne and every other sell-out who's out there making a living by perpetuating stereotypes and teaching young kids that it's cool to sell drugs, get high and drunk all the time, disrespect women, and kill other Black men. So I'm not saying fuck all hip-hop. Still support the good shit,the shit with a real positive message, but fuck all the rest of it. Buy another Jay-Z or 50 Cent CD and you're a sell-out too.


igrat777 said...

Once again --- brilliant! I couldn't agree with you more. I used to be a huge fan of rap music, but that was back in the day - when De La Soul and Queen Latifah were top of the charts and before NWA made the "n" word so inexplicably popular. What happened to the time when hearing someone singing a rap song just made you laugh, not cringe? How I long for the days of "going over a friends house to eat where the food just aint no good. the macaroni's soggy the peas are mushed and the chicken taste like wood"! siiiigh. Memories. :o) I hope that one day our people wake up and realize that "grills" and "bitches" don't help to improve our groove in society. All it does is help perpetuate the myth that we are uneducated and violent. It makes me sick that a few rotten rap-apples are helping to give an intelligent, ingenious and and undeniably strong race a bad reputation. I wish more people - especially young people - could read your blog. You need a newspaper column! Until you get it, I will continue to print out and pass along most of your blogs to my friends, especially the ones with children. Thanks again for telling it like it is.
On a side note - I've locked onto you as my new Author Idol. I am a huge fan of your work (LOVED Book of a Thousand Sins and Teratologist. Just now reading Succulent Prey and can't put it down...I'm going to get fired, I'm sure of it! LOL. His Pain is next.) I was wondering if you could offer me some advice. I'm a very new, aspiring horror/splatterpunk writer and I find that I'm having a hard time finding someone to read and critique my work. Most of my circle of friends and family have no stomach for this type of writing and no interest in reading it, and the few who do read it have no idea how to critique in a way that would help me. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking of creating my own website and posting there and getting public feedback. If you have a minute, would you mind sharing your thoughts on this? Thank you in advance.

Wrath said...

Good to hear from you again Igrat,

One thing I would definitely reccomend you avoid is putting your work out there for public consumption. Besides the obvious possibility of it getting stolen, there is also the fact that once you put it up on a wrbsite is is considered published which means you have just lost the ability to sell first rights which cuts its future value in half if not thirds.

My advice would be to just start submitting. True, many editors will just give you the standard, "It's not right for us at this time." form letter, however some will actually take the time to give you valuable feedback and advice on how to make you work better. It takes a thick skin to go this route, but you're going to have to develop that anyway in order to deal with the inevitable flood of rejection letters as you make your way up in the publishing world.

I do think having dedicated readers and proofreaders is neccessary, I have three or four people I regularly send my work to. Join literary organizations and online groups to meet other writers and you'll begin making friends with other writers and readers with similar interests who might be willing to serve as your proofreaders or dedicated readers (which can be two separate things.) I actually treat them as separate things. I have dedicated readers to tell me if the story is good and the plot and subplots are strong and the whether the characters are believable and then I have proofreaders to tell me if all my commas are in the right place and whether I used "There" when I meant "Their" or "Then" when I meant "Than" (two of my more common errors.

Well, I hope that helps and thanks again for the kind words about my work.

igrat777 said...

Thank you so much!! I didn't realize that once you put it on a website it's considered published... thank you thank you thank you for the heads up on that.

I'm sure you're incredibly busy so I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond with very valuable advice. I'm doing my research now on literary organizations and online writing groups and have been submitting to editors for a few months now. And I think I'm well on my way - I've gotten 7 rejection letters so far!! woooo-hooo! :o)

Once I finally get published, which I'm confident I will, I'd be honored to be able to send you a copy.

Thanks again, so much, for taking the time.

Joel Wideman said...

Your observations are always insightful and passionately spoken. It's what makes this blog well worth reading.
I have an eclectic taste in music, so I listen to pretty much everything. The trend in hip hop is not much different, really, from the trends in other genres of music. They all have songs about impractical and degenerate lifestyles. But I really think it's more a reflection on the fans than on the performers. Nobody would buy their albums or go to their concerts if they didn't sing about stuff they wanted to hear.

Victor said...

I could never say "fuck" hip hop but I could definitely say "fuck" a host of artists currently making music in general. There is a huge amount of talented individuals creating rap music today who have had their heads firmly attached to their shoulders such as Lyrics Born, Blackalicious, Latryx, El-P, One Be Lo, Pharaore Monch, and a host of others. I think maybe we should judge the individuals rather than the genre as a whole but, kids do seem to have an affinity for dumb shit so.....

tyeson said...

try greydon square he presents hip-hop from a more philosophical atheistic viewpoint, he is the only rap artist i still listen to