Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hope for Hip-hop

Along with calypso, latin jazz and salsa, hip-hop is right up there as one of my favorite music genres. Mos Def, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Salt & Peppa, Eve, Dela Soul and Talib Kwali are just a few of the hip-hop artists I love to hear. But I have to say hip-hop’s been at a low point for years now, and I really feel like giving a lot of today’s artists a smack in the head.

Yeah, I know I sound like some stuffy old curmudgeon who just doesn’t want to get with the program. But I know I’m not the only one out there thinking that hip-hop would be so much better without all the bling! Who cares if you’re wearing enough diamonds to blind anyone who looks at you too long? And I couldn’t give a damn if you have a Rolex or some other grossly-expensive watch, I just want to know if you can actually tell time with that thing.

Materialism is just one of our problems though. The sexual content and sexism in music are pretty depressing too. Guys, there’s nothing wrong with admiring a woman, but I’d really love to hear you talk about her mind, spirit, and other attributes besides her booty and lady lumps. Yes, sisters do have minds, and we’re good for a lot more than sex, dancing in clubs, or holding the keys to your Lexus. And I know none of us is perfect, but in general no man has any right to call a woman a bitch, slut or ‘ho’. Sisters, please, we need to hear more hip-hop from strong, intelligent, positive women, so show them your stuff!

Violence is another blight on the hip-hop scene. Could we pleeeease stop acting like it’s cool to be a thug or a gangsta? Kids need smart, sober, constructive role models to look up to, not people who are gun-obsessed, greedy, or in and out of rehab all the time. I know there are some really positive, socially conscious artists out there, but a lot of the conscious rappers get pushed underground and get very little air-play on the radio or TV. I’d love to hear more kids come out with their own hip-hop, because I think some of them could really help change the direction of the mainstream. What do you think?

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