Saturday, June 7, 2008


I'm sitting here listening to Iller Than Theirs "To Be Ill". You should check it out, its great hop/hop. Every friday i hang out with a couple guys from Anwatin Middle School in N. Mpls. We do math, geography, and Play Station. We work first, eat lunch and then either play basketball on the courts outside, turn on the PS2 or go to the computer lab and search the for ridiculous web games. So far the award goes to "Bike"; this game uses only the arrows...that lame. In the computer lab we can also listen to music with headphones. Usually the volume is loud enough for everyone to listen in. My guy, Devon was busy singing along with Chris Brown, but next to him i heard this song with nothing but drug words, sex words, curse words, fighting words, and the infamous "N" word. Honestly, it reminded me of some of the music i used to love.

When i first got my drivers license i was introduced to Master P's "make em say ughh". I thought it was amazing. From there i moved through a whole realm of different styles of rap/hip-hop with a mixture of offensive material that would make a grown man cry:) As a youth there is this pull to offensive music. Maybe because it hypes you up, it's mindless, against the rules. Maybe its because of the great bass. I can identify with the pop/addictive kind of guilty music but as i've gotten older i have realized its depreciation; a numbing of the senses. I used to abhor leaders who would question the music i listened to and now i am that leader. What's interesting is that even though i liked the music as a kid, grown men were making the music. Its a tough place to be able to cipher all of the different substances that go into a man and then justify or condemn the content but we cannot cancel all of the "music man's" responsibility.

I don't ask "is that secular music?!" I ask, "what's in that music?" As I have become much more infused with the urban life and its pursuit, i have become so sick and tired of pop*club*gangster rap. We have resorted to glorifying drugs, abuse, money, violence, and im sure a lot of its by-parts. I was reading an essay by Cornell West on Afro-American music and its influence. It was mostly directed at the subsequent genre's beginning with spirituals and ending with early hip/hop such as Grandmaster Flash. He makes a brief reference to this new form of rap that has lost its original substance. He denotes this drop due to the lack of "self-love".

I agree that everyone's voice should be heard and its all well and good to talk about what you are going through. I think there's a difference in the communication style of sharing what you are going through contra glorifying what you do. I can say, "i did what i had to do to make things work due to my environment" or i can say "Look at how cool i am because of my pursuit of ignorance and i don't care if you are affected or not" Do you hear the difference? In light of the first response i agree with. Get your voice out there, talk about the grimy experience, tell me how it has made you a better person, give me true emotion and pursuit, but it becomes extreme and skewed to place sickness onto a victory box. Let's promote change, positivity, survival with an up-ward tonal note. Im trying to get at the heart of what makes diseased music sick. Its the wrong mentality.

We make this music because we have done a poor job in promoting self-pride...mostly black-pride. There are white rappers out there who didn't grow up in blighted areas who jump in the pool of 'hard-knocks' but lets leave them out today. If you don't know, America has a history of racism, segregation and oppression; all of which are still present. I think we have got to do a better job with exemplifying not just black history but black-pride and self-love. What does it mean to be african american? It is priceless. We need to get to a place where all of us equally appreciate our own and each other's heritage. A month for black history and 200+ years of european or what is now anglo teaching material and text-books? Are we doing a good enough job leveling historical appreciation? I don't have any answers right now but i am thoroughly distressed at what to do with urban revitalization and the conditions of its popular music. We can talk about rural music and its shortcomings in a different blog. There are a lot of possible tangents within this discourse but try to stay focused.

1 comment:

Matt Brown said...

Powerful stuff bro! I totally agree, it's hard for historians to share a moderate, balanced view of what happens in the world. History is so jaded by the perspectives and world views of even the most careful historians. There are amazing stories to be told from African, Chinese, and other history books still to be written. What makes the best books are the ones that include some of this material.