I like hip hop music for the most part. I've never been a huge fan of gangsta rap, but I've always been a big fan old school hip hop or more of the underground stuff. I remember being introduced to artists like Eric B. & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest at a young age and just falling in love with the energetic beats that made me just wanna move around. That's why I was excited to see this hip hop video in class this week.
I thought Byron Hurt did a phenomenal job producing the film. Here he was, a gifted black athlete who grew up loving hip hop, and then coming to a realization that much of the lyrics in hip hop music is sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and violent. He talked about being conflicted because he loved the music so much. That's why I have tons of respect for him for making a film like this and helping open up America's eyes to this kind of trash in the media.
Hurt also talked about all of this energy being built up in places like the Bronx, where people lived poverty, and hip hop being the way to release all of that energy. Listen to lyrics of songs in the early days of hip hop and contrast them to lyrics of today. Hip hop founders like The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash wouldn't even make it onto the hip hop scene today because their lyrics are so mild. They didn't rap about killing one another or sleeping with a bunch of "hoes." It was about releasing that energy and having a good time doing it.
Then you have artists like Public Enemy and Mos Def who are very political. They rap about the goings on in society and are socially conscious. They may drop F bombs here and there, but it's about the context of what they're talking about. They're not trying to come across as hard or talking about it in a sexual sense. They're pissed off! Many people let expletives fly when they get pissed; these guys are just expressing their anger with hip hop.
But unfortunately, we mostly just see guys like Nelly and 50 Cent, and guys talking about "supermaning their hoes."
We're all to blame. Artists are to blame; record execs are to blame; DJs are to blame; those of us who buy into the culture are to blame. We're perpetuating these stereotypes: that black men are supposed to be wild, violent, sexist and homophobic.
I had to watch this documentary again to get the entire concept that Hurt was talking about. And I would recommend anyone to see it again. In the meantime, I'll just stick to my old school stuff.