D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fame Gets You Attention. Use It Wisely.

Hip Hop requires serious study and discussion amongst people who can effectively speak on not only the deeper impact of the culture and lyrics on today’s society, but also the technical skills of the artists that practice it daily. I still believe that academics can hurt these discussions by over-thinking and over-analyzing the music and culture; some of the analyzing comes from a root of indifference and disdain. Am I saying that I don’t enjoy that Hip Hop enjoys a platform in many a college and university classroom? Of course I’m excited at that prospect but I fear something will get lost in the meantime.

What gets lost? I think what gets lost primarily is the many nuances of the lyrical content, the importance of the societal impact of the culture, the many styles of Hip Hop within itself and just how innovative the music continues to be. I do not enjoy how much Hip Hop is both used to attract the youth and is dissected by the generations before us as some rouge sub-culture that should’ve have ever had the success its had. I don’t enjoy that a lot of current Hip Hop isn’t help my case by having artists behave like common street thugs who are using street cred (imagined or real) to sell records. It’s just as offensive as trying to attract young people with these artists by having them endorse the “coolness” of voting when half of them care not about the power of democracy.

Politics and Hip Hop will remain cock-eyed cousins as I don’t think the two entities will be focused on the same goals and ideals. I have my doubts of trying to force the two together because by and large, fans of popular Hip Hop don’t care if the Yin Yang Twins telling them to write their senator and vote. Now, if a sector of those fans of that group or other groups of that ilk, I apologize if I assume the worst of you. Hell, if those cats are civic-minded and take their fame to the streets to promote a positive thing then I’m all for it. The reality is I don’t see that happening. What is happening is that they have a hot song that has the banal refrain of “Wait Til You See My D*ck” – and the song has no signs of playing out soon. How soon before pop radio is forced to play it due to demand thus having a boom of suburban kids shouting the chorus in glee?

I’ve said it in this column and I’ll say it again: Popular rappers could change the political landscape just by demanding their ravenous fans get involved politically, socially and responsibly. If you couple that with true education, sincerity and a focus on state and local issue, you could see a true voting bloc with awesome power. I’ve spoken about this since 2000 and in 2005 I’m nearly ashamed that I have to repeat myself. But if that’s what I have to do to get the industry to pick up the ball, count me in for the long haul.


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