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

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Hip Hop Needs Help, Not Heckling

Controversy and Hip Hop have been common bedfellows since the late 1980s with groups like N.W.A. and Public Enemy absorbing the ire of anti-rap proponents denouncing the importance and worth of the music and culture. So to note that Hip Hop’s most visible artists and images of today leave little to be desired is perhaps the greatest understatement in some time. The most ardent protest thus far has been the Essence magazine campaign to stop the negative images of women and I’ve mentioned in a previous column about the current Feminism and Hip Hop conference in Chicago. Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice gently spanks Hip Hop on the bottom but at the very least recognizes that what’s being touted as Hip Hop is just only more prominent and exposed. She seems to be aware that there is more to the music than what MTV, BET, Clear Channel and Radio One have forced us to endure. Finally, someone out there who’s ready for a change without seeming to drag Hip Hop into some unnecessary mud fight. I can get behind that.

It’d be great if those women at the conference would allow supportive voices (or would that be opposing?) that could show that there’s more to Hip Hop than Nelly’s “Tip Drill” video and other negatives songs that are dance floor popular. Take for instance the Advanced School of Knowledge event out in the Bay Area in California mentioned in this story from the San Francisco Bay View. These young people are using Hip Hop and applying themselves in ways many people probably never gave them credit for nor would expect them to maintain. For every instance of negativity, there are many stories of this magnitude being repeated in many neighborhoods in this country over and over - people actually using Hip Hop as a means to cope and to educate those who are headed down dark paths. As I’m fond of saying, positive Hip Hop stories aren’t “sexy” angles for the media outlets. I mean, Hip Hop can be peaceful? Who knew? It doesn’t ring with the same punch as, say, reports of label mates Game and 50 shooting at each other over ill spoken words and hurt feelings.

This remains my hope: that while we can politic and pontificate until we’re blue in the face about the problems in much of current Hip Hop music, I pray that we can use that same glaring assessment on the acts, youth groups and others in the music industry who use their influences and ability to communicate to young people for the higher good. To demonize Hip Hop doesn’t fix it; the repair is ongoing and will not be a quick fixer-upper. I demand that these anti-Hip Hop groups do more than just the bare minimum requisite as far as research is concerned. If we can remember that it took 30 years for it to get to this highest height of foul, it may take us 30 to snatch it back. Are we patient enough to wait it out? Time will tell.


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