Real Hip-Hop: Why Don’t The Majority of Blacks Support It?
I came across an interesting forum discussion today. The topic was “Why don’t the majority of blacks support pure hip-hop?” As overly-discussed as this issue may be, I always find these debates not only informative, but entertaining at the same time. Some of the questions posted in response to the question were “What do you consider pure hip-hop?” by several individuals and “Is this a subliminal way to bash the mainstream?” by others. Though I believe that there is no one answer to this question, I will share my sentiments nonetheless.
Google has several definitions for the word pure listed; depending on sentence context pure means “without flaws or sins,” “free from extraneous elements,” the list goes on. When I think of something that is pure [from a broad perspective] I think of something that is innocent, clean, organic or natural. When it comes to hip-hop, I don’t think using the term “pure” to describe it at its current state is appropriate; whether underground or mainstream. When a child is born he is said to be pure because his mind and soul has not been infiltrated by the world’s ills, and I believe hip-hop as a culture and as a form of music follows the same classification in this regards.
Like any genre of music, hip-hop is the reflection of the society who embodies the culture, so the traits you hear in the music is more than likely the traits you will see in its people; but in recent years there are many exceptions to this rule. Going back to “pure” hip-hop; I think the creator of this forum topic meant “real” hip-hop when he use the word “pure.” As I stated in several of my articles, I believe real hip-hop is music that is intelligent, promotes positive lifestyles and uplifts the community. Real hip-hop embraces the positive as well as the negative energy of our communities and creates a platform for change for all who listen to it. So why don’t black people support real hip-hop? Again, this question is broad but I believe anyone who follows both mainstream and underground hip-hop [more than a little bit] should be able to generate and educated list of opinions to this question. Here is a list of my thoughts (in no particular order):
Blacks don’t support real hip-hop because…
Many blacks don’t know the difference between mainstream hip-hop and real hip-hop and others simply don’t care. Many blacks who are in their late 20’s and higher in age don’t buy as many albums as the younger generation, so they listen to commercial radio because it’s convenient.
The government is using mainstream hip-hop as a means to extort the black community targeting our children from their early teenage years to their mid-20’s. This is why certain artists who promote negative themes are heard numerous times on the radio. It is a classic case of conditioning our youth thru modern day slavery.
Mainstream hip-hop is a commodity to big corporations so its basis will always be to make money. Our youth are being conditioned to focus entirely on material possessions and achieving wealth so they ignore anything that doesn’t promote this message.
Real hip-hop is about love and unity amongst its people and most blacks live in areas where they see little of both.
As #4, real hip-hop at times can contain concepts and views that many blacks can’t or refuse to relate to, so they ignore it. I have heard the phrase that real hip-hop is “too intelligent;” this is nonsense. This is just a way of big corporations saying “we want to keep your people dumb so we won’t play that other music. Parenting is the key to successfully spreading more positive hip-hop to our communities. It is up to the parents to educate and guide our children so that they can understand how much music can greatly affect their spirits.
Peer pressure. This goes hand in hand with #3, #4 and #5; if you aren’t with the “in” crowd who listens to artist “A,” you aren’t cool. As a teenager on average, who doesn’t want to be cool?
Big radio and TV corporations simply do not play enough [if any] positive/real hip-hop. When I was young, you could find real hip-hop on TV shows like Jukebox, Yo MTV Raps and on the radio. You could also find real hip-hop plastered more in magazines like Right On, The Source and others.
Real hip-hop can be judgmental on those who aren’t apart of it. Let’s face it; there are some arrogant positive rappers out there. Even as underground artists, we can fall victim to some monstrous egos; more humbleness needs to be widespread through the game.
I am sure that once I publish this article I will conjure up several more opinions to why blacks don’t support real hip-hop, but these are my top reasons. Looking at the state of things I believe that not only are blacks being extorted, everyone is being extorted through the use of mainstream hip-hop. What better way to control a people than through the music they love? Subliminal messages are all around us and affecting all of us, not just blacks.
It is sad though, that at an average underground hip-hop show featuring talented artists that I attend, I see about 10 blacks for every 50 or more whites in the room. It seems that if the song doesn’t have a catchy dance, a message about “getting’ money” or a dirty south rhythm to it, the masses won’t feel it. But even with this there are exceptions to this opinion such as artists like Kanye West, Common, Wyclef, Will.I.am and a few others.
Could it be that blacks simply don’t support their own as well? For many, if you aren’t a brand name, they won’t buy your album. Some call it hating, others simply say that they don’t buy music from and of someone they haven’t heard. Whatever the case, I think many of us sip on the “Haterade” often, and it’s hard to put the bottle down. Hating was embedded in our people during slavery, playing the field slaves against the house slaves, women against men and vice versa, and clearly it is prevalent in our music, fan base and record labels.
Its not rocket science, in most cases negative energy breeds more negative energy creating a negative environment. For the sake of this article, pushing negative themes make the rich richer and the uneducated even more uneducated. Mainstream hip-hop is a cash cow making many companies wealthier at the expense of our communities. If big labels were to push underground artists like they do the mainstream all of a sudden, it would be so foreign to the young folk that album sales would seriously decline due to the conditioning that they have already encountered.
All of this to say again, there is no one answer to this question. The best thing for us as hip-hop artists to do to get more people in general to listen to our music is keep (or begin) making real hip-hop, as producers, continue constructing classic beats. Get more creative with our promotion and advertising techniques. Reach out to people instead of waiting on them to come to you. As listeners, expand and listen to new artists whose songs embrace more positive themes, mainstream or underground. The game is only as good as its coaches, players and fans. Let’s begin practice, because practice makes perfect.