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Has Hip Hop Lost It's Soul?
While sitting and watching my wife’s favorite movie “Brown Sugar”, a vital question came to me “Has Hip Hop music lost it’s soul? In the show there were funny gimmicks like the rap group “The Hip Hop Dalmatians.” They represented almost everything that is wrong with our cultural music.Their claim to fame was the hit "The Hoe is Mine" (a play on Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney's song). Unfortunately, many of today's artists are producing songs that can battle the Dalmatians song for ignorance supremacy.
Hip Hop music has always served as an outlet for creative expression along with being the voice of the people. We made sure our complaints would be heard by politicians and other government entities, We couldn't be ignored. Chuck D and Public Enemy put Arizona on blast for not recognizing Martin Luther King’s birthday as a national holiday (“By The Time I Get To Arizona”). KRS One so eloquently described his displeasure for Cops in “Sound of Da Police.” Grand Master Flash let the world know what society ills were going on in his hood with “The Message.” Things were at a boiling point, and things had to change now. This became evident when he chimed “Don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m trying not to lose my head.” Mos Def used his platform to discuss the water consumption and environmental issues in “New World Water.” I know you are probably thinking to yourself “Who in their right mind is going to rap about water?” The answer is easy; a Hip Hop Artist with higher order thinking would do so. Only Ice Cube, Chuck D, and Big Daddy Kane could make speaking out against the lack of quality roles for African American Actors and Actresses sound cool (Burn Hollywood Burn”). In “I Know I Can,” Nas took time out to create an anthem for young boys and girls to combat the negative stereotypes they were being fed by the media. The message was simple, “I know I can, be what I want to be, If I work hard at it, I’ll be where I want to be.” Who will ever forget the strong message Queen Latifah sent to black men to treat black women with respect and love (U.N.I.T.Y). This went against the grain of popular societal procedures of calling your girlfriend and other women the B word.
The Hip Hop Industry has made a lot of money over the years. It is enjoying the same prosperity as other music genres. The question remains "Have they received it in the form of hush money?" Are executives whispering "Keep sounding as ignorant as possible. Don’t worry a bout offending anyone, we will tell you what’s popular, what to say, and how far to go. Listeners want to shake their butt’s, they don’t want to learn something. Who wants Edutainment? Listeners won’t understand what you are saying so they won’t buy your records. Besides, concentrate on getting your swag right. People will want to be you. You’ll be famous."
Well how does that fame feel? You look in the mirror and see a face with no soul. This face wears an ignorant smile thinking it has gained power when in fact it has lost it's strength. Could it have been the future that James Brown saw when he said "Talking loud but ain't saying nothin." Well, the melodic message of the "Native Tongue" is getting drowned out by the background noise of rappers screaming "YOLO!" Yo, I'd rather listen to a spoken word artist because they have mastered Rakim's art of "moving the crowd."
Finally, I hope the following videos will make you hunger for more conscious Hip Hop, which was birthed from the soul of the people.