Thursday, May 3, 2007

James Brown's Crusade for Decency

Firstly, dap from the ground above to the ground below for the godfather of soul James Brown. Today is his 74th birthday, and, like with any regular birthday celebration, his daughters have come on CNN to talk about the need for removing negative content from hip-hop.

Honestly, if this discussion could stop some time soon, I'd really be appreciative. I don't like the materialistic nature of hip-hop, how it has become about bitches, hos, diamonds, and slinging drugs. All of this negative rap is produced from a system that sells social narcotics.

Drug usage and violence is frequently promoted in hip-hop to the pleasure of white moneymakers at the major labels. Yes, the rappers usually own the channels and make a lot of money on their own, but they are also being sucked under by the need to maintain an absurd street edge, which is impossible since most rappers don't live on the street anymore. All of this street cred is supposed to help rap relate to the Black community. I grew up in a Black community, the shit I was hearing on the radio wasn't what I was experiencing. Wasn't even close. The negativity and nihilism is all part of a larger scheme that has been fought by the underground for many years. But, it's hard when they don't have the money to fight the Goliath.

The goliath keeps pushing this crap in the effort to keep Black people down in America because they are afraid of what we can do if given full power and creative & marketing control. Yes, I said it: Rap music, the music created by Kool Herc up in the Boogie Down back in the 1970's which was a voice for the disenfranchised Black and Latino communities of NY, is being used to keep the communities that started it down. Any radical rapper that you can think of that doesn't talk a lot of junk and isn't Public Enemy never gets on television...ever, even if they are hotter than 99% of the groups out right now. Groups like Little Brother and Black Eyed Peas (back in the day BEP, not Fergie BEP) got their videos thrown off of BET and MTV because they were was too educated, they were going to put too many revolutionary ideas in the malleable minds of impressionable Black youth who weren't smart enough to know better that can put money in the corporate coffers.

Record companies are making a killing off rap, they aren't going to tell rappers to change their content so that it will be more socially acceptable.* The only way that the rap game won't kill itself, and prove Nas right (dude said this shit on hip-hop is dead and in a Jet from a while ago), is to start being about the content again. And, having James Brown's daughters going around in New York trying to provoke the record labels to change is not going to do this. This has to come from within the community of hip-hop because we are the only ones that are going to be able to actually make a change.

*the argument that rap is offensive to society is laughable. No music should ever aspire to be social acceptable. That stifles creativity. As well, who is to say what the societal standard is. I can't define it, but neither can a conservative. No one can because we will always disagree. Additionally, by making rap socially acceptable, you are depriving rap of the ability to tell stories about the seedier aspects of life. Drugs do happen. Violence does happen. It needs to be discussed, not censored. But it also does not need to be glorified as so many rappers are doing now.