Hip Hop Culture From The (Under)Ground Up
Wimsatt’s example of direct exposure to an element that he could’ve possibly been denied access to because of his skin and background shows that we must, at the very least, be willing to risk ridicule and criticism from people we wish to be our peers. I’m fond of saying that brotherhood, like trust, is something one must earn. In the realm of Hip Hop culture, there is a wariness of the "new kid" as you’re not sure if you’re going to relate to them or not. I remember when I did my brief stint in a small graffiti writer crew how I had to essentially "earn my stripes" with these men. It’s funny to think how protective we were of the culture and now, anybody with a cracked Fruity Loops program and cheap microphone can claim Hip Hop as ardently as anyone – and even feel justified in doing so. Hip Hop in my time was definitely more about waiting on the elders and masters to deliver the goods but everybody and their mother wants to be a hack MC or producer. I don't want to even start on the "toy" (read: novice) graf writers of today. The DIY movement in music period is to blame although some of those efforts are worthy of respect.
A recent conference featuring Public Enemy’s Chuck D and west coast former MC Yo-Yo showcased just how repetitive we must be. Hammering home the point of being politically active and taking charge of the polls is a message that will never get old; Chuck D speaks to this toward the end of Mr. Chery’s piece. Broken records, some would say but you cannot underscore the importance of what he’s saying. You cannot underscore enough the words of Yo-Yo regarding what sounds and images commercial radio and television choose to promote in Hip Hop. The times are critical and message music is soon to become a dinosaur if this trend continues. As I’ve grown up in this culture expecting it to teach and guide me, I’ve had to learn the hard lesson that I also have to be just as active in gaining my worth and knowledge in other arenas as well. The passion and expectations we heap upon Hip Hop and the personal responsibility that every non-fan, Hip Hop detractor or fire breathing politician demands needs to come from the pulsating core within those tightly wound Hip Hop circles.