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Hip Hop Music Needs It’s Voice Back
By Constant

Hip Hop’s Influence is everywhere.

On television,

In the movies,

In advertising.

It’s on your kid’s backs.

It’s on their parent’s backs.

“Their parents back?”

Yeah! It’s creeping into people’s everyday life.

Movies frequently feature Hip Hop artists now. Some produce their own films like Ice Cube and his plethora of films including the Friday series. Others are going the traditional actors route i.e. Mos Def who appeared in the Cosby Mysteries before he dropped the classic: Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, with Kweli.

Queen Latifah, DMX, Method Man, Redman, Ja Rule, Eminem, LL Cool J, Fat Joe, Ice T (O.G.), Will Smith (one of the first), Busta Ryhmes, and Nelly are a short list of rappers who have dabbled in the acting field.

In fashion, artist Sean John Combs is killin’ with his apparel, artist Jay-Z has his own sneaker with Reebok and company he co-owns, Roc A Fella has Rocawear and have started another with the State Property line. Funkmaster Flex has a sneaker with Lugz. J-Lo has perfume and clothes out (Yeah, she counts. You see all the remix she has and she isn’t reppin’ the South Bronx for nothing!) and Eve has here Fetish line coming out soon.

But in the end we go to the origin: Music

Hip Hop music is the second biggest selling music form, next to country.

After years of hate, the art is being embraced.

Is it really? And if so is it the right kind of Hip Hop?

Hip Hop the music is struggling to be more than a sideshow when it comes to voicing the concerns and struggles to people.

Artists like Ja Rule, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, seem to be dominating the airwaves and radio but their lyrical content while often witty and glamorous lacks long term substance and has ten year old children (younger even!) thinking about fast money, ghetto life, games, and girls instead of the bigger picture: the long term.

It’s not hating! Just the truth as I see it. When Hip Hop first regularly seen on TV (meaning they had a show on it) in the 90’s it was an enigma, an art form most thought would die out. An art form that mostly depicted glorified hood violence and hate. There were artists like Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul who did stretch the game but they were few global artists, artists that were exposed so much in the media that they even set cultural trends in talk, fashion, music, movies, etc.

Now with 24 music networks like VH1, MTV, and BET, Much Music, Hip Hop artists have more avenues for people to see their face, promote their album, and of course get paid. Getting paid? Yeah we have to accept that music is a business, a very lucrative one. There is payola (the banana on the basketball court) in the game to prove it. There are compromises to be made; we all know a certain lyrical content sells.

Now, to me compromising should not include lying about one’s actions, taking others’ ideas and doing nothing creative with them, or changing your style for a certain status namely: Platinum!

We all know it happens but even a burglar can show some decency and leave the mattress so the poor chump who got robbed can lay down while he cries himself to sleep.

Now it’s not all bad. Artists like The Roots, Mos Def, Common, and Talib Kweli are getting love on major networks but we need more artists who not only want to tell about what happen with the party, the girl, or the homies. We need artists with a worldly perspective to take us out of the common theme hood and give us some needed vision.

I’m not asking for every artist to be Malcolm or Martin what I am asking for is responsibility for the lyrics they spit. I don’t think they understand or don’t care that these words are being pumped to young adults and children who know no better than to emulate their favorite artists in every way possible. If they believe in you and you talk most of the time about quick gratification, violence, drugs, girls, and money, what do you think they will be thinking about?

I’m not saying I’m offended. As an adult, I (a majority of the time) can tell what to take in and what to leave to the side. A good number of people can. When you’re diverse and have seen different perspectives you become an overall judge of things. I listen to different Hip Hop, different music, been different places, basically, I’ve experienced life to a good extent.

Sorry to say, others haven’t.

Who is to blame? The artist coming from usually disadvantage families who is just talking about what they see and know sells? Or the companies that push these artists to these measures, encouraging splash instead of substance for the consumers of a fast paced world.

It's both, but of course music companies will take the larger percentage of the blame.

Music companies are in the business (here is that word again) of making money not selling positive images and saving people! They could care less if a person spends their (already measly) check on music unless it’s not their music. They don’t care if your rent is due, but you decided to listen to their artist and buy the phat chain, they call it a great marketing job. I don’t expect companies (nor anyone else) to have my best interest in mind, so I suggest neither should you.

We need to hold higher standards for those artists we regularly see in the light because they have the light and are being selfish thinking about their struggles and just celebrating instead of shedding light on the tunnel and helping others to come out.

They have an ability to reach children and young adults in away that not even teachers, parents, friends can reach. The child you see on the corner, acting up in school or in the street may not be in school or have a life goal but they know their favorite artists albums from intro to outro, every song, even the interludes and ad-libs. It makes sense!

While education gets less money put into it than the military music and media is expanding and more readily accessible. Which is good but only to an extent? Other values like family are being pulled apart.

The fantasy that some artists give is entertaining, but repetitively it can be hazardous because some unexposed, uneducated people will think that it is the only thing out there and go too far with it. Some people just don’t have the basics, and showing them extracurricular activities without the real sacrifices, perseverance, effects and experiences is damaging.

If we hold the artist accountable to a higher standard the companies will realize this music isn’t what we want to see and hear all the time.

Let’s look for more than the same old catchy phrases, hooks and big willy-isms.

Like Nas said “You don’t wanna be my age and can’t read and write!”

Any comments, questions email Constant at

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