When hop hip was born on the streets of New York, rhymes and dances drove the battles. As the genre traveled to the left coast, the world learned from Ice Cube, Dre and N.W.A. that south central L.A. was a powder keg ready to blow. Their music was real gangsters reflecting the unfortunate problems in their world through the medium of rap—in the footsteps of Pablo Picasso, Zora Neal Hurston and Salvador Dali.
Art imitating life or life imitating art? Of course, the hip hop culture includes positive elements who are real artists but some parts of the thug subdivision are recklessly affecting developing minds and our community as a whole suffers. Weak-minded kids are so brainwashed that they become detrimental to other kids and everyone else. When the moral code established by the teachings of family, church and school is ignored, we are in trouble. From leather jackets to Afro to punk to preppy, every generation gets to define itself but these my classmates’ children are making a concerted effort to glorify easy money, hustling, crime, and incarceration. And don’t get me started on the stripper style dancing from college students in regular clubs—maybe I am just getting old and grumpy but back in my day we saved that for the “hotel, motel, Holiday Inn.”
Lyrics are poetry set to music; Jill Scott should be Poet Laureate; Biggie and Tupac are our dead poets. Anyone with a strong mind can listen to music in its proper artistic context but as a community we need our youth preparing from the competitive nature of the global economy; kids in the developing are developing fast. The hip hop culture is big business with Black, White and Brown youth but under-prepared Black youth will struggle if the music adversely influences their mindsets.
The kids seem to us now how we must have seemed to our parents but Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 a “The Message” and John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Rain on the Scarecrow” meant something in farmland. When they reach 25 year old, they started with that “I wish I would have listened—I got caught up.”