Thursday, May 17, 2007

This is Why Hip-Hop Is Dead

With these two videos, T.I. and 50 Cent have further dug the grave for hip-hop. Firstly, they are completely inarticulate. Secondly, T.I. does have a good point in saying that some people do want rappers to teach their children. I don't, but this doesn't let the rappers off the hook so fast. Just because you aren't raising my kids doesn't mean that you don't hold a responsibility to not glamorize a lifestyle that leaves so many of our young Black men dead or in jail. T.I. justifies the brutality of his rapping by saying that was his life and he rose up from it. But, in flaunting that lifestyle and glamorizing drug dealing and excessive vanity, T.I. is just adding to the ire of the conservative others who are actually trying to shut down rap.

50 Cent also does a terrible job of trying to defend hip-hop as well. He tries to reference the war and the other forms of violent imagery in America. The last time I checked, people have been complaining about violence in films for a very, very long time. I can't think of a time when someone wasn't complaining about the violent nature of a film. Also, 50 Cent needs a fact checker or someone who can feed him correct information about the DC Madam scandal. He called the ESCORTS embroiled in this scandal hos when they didn't need to be; they are escorts. It just shows you that 50 Cent has no idea of what he's talking about nor has Curtis thought about how he sees himself as an artist and how others see him as an artist. Also, his defense of the violent, misogynistic, homophobic content of rap is made analogous to painting the American flag without red paint. This, flat out, does not make sense. Rap has existed without all of the violence and misogyny. Some of the classic albums in the game have existed without this. Has everyone forgotten Paid in Full? Strictly Business? The Low End Theory? The Cactus Album? Paul's Boutique? Long Live the Kane? Do I need to keep on?

50 Cent tries to call hip-hop a mirror on society. What part of rapping about putting huge rims on your car, completely tricking it out are part of most people in the hood's experience? Is that a part of Black people's harsh experience in America? Additionally, why is 50 Cent talking about reality in the hood? He lives in a huge house in Connecticut. Curtis is not hood anymore, but he still talks about shooting people and bullshit. Cormega, a dope MC, came from the same background as T.I. and 50, but has some positivity in his raps. So, with raps devoid of positive images and continuing on talking about the same bullshit that White America wants rap to talk about, what does this make him other than a minstrel?

50 Cent also talks about rap not being successful if it isn't racy. This is true. Public Enemy released very racy albums, but those albums were driven by the politics of a downtrodden Black public. The whole Native Tongues clique dropped albums based in a radical political framework. Additionally, when dudes like NWA were dropping their work, they were that life. They were radical at their time because they were not the party rappers that dominated the late 1980's. They were offensive, but, since that time, they matured, recognized their errors of their ways primarily through the death of Easy-E to AIDS. 50 Cent is unwilling to do this. T.I. is also unwilling to do it, even though he has five kids.

In the end, I'm not surprised that either of these men said what they did because it is what I would expect them to say. And that is the most depressing part of it all. T.I. and 50 Cent are two of the largest selling artists in America right now. They get their music heard by millions of people around America. But, neither of them are willing to be responsible and say, yea, this is how I used to live my life but I have moved past that, I got my life clean, and I'm not about a lot of junk anymore. I should rap about how my life has become better and how I got out, focusing on my craft instead of trying to keep a street edge. If dudes in the street feel you, they feel you. But this requires an ability to assess one's own image in society and be responsible for it. Neither T.I. nor 50 Cent is really willing to do these things. They are only concerned with how much money they make and these comments have made that viewpoint crystal clear. Frankly, I'm disinterested if you want to rap about violence because it does happen in society. But, talking about violence like it is cool or what is done to solve problems is ridiculous and is leading to the demise of hip-hop as a form. And just to prove my point, this is the second verse from "Ryder Music" off of 50's The Massacre:

Last year I woke up with good luck, damn it feels good
On the low, I done fucked like half of Hollywood
Had yo' favorite actress, from yo' favorite shows
In my favorite position, you know how it goes
And my Bentley bumpin Prince shit, this is "When Doves Cry"
This is what it sounds like when hollow-tip slugs fly
Homey this is somethin you can ride and smoke to
Stay on point, cause niggaz will ride and smoke you
Jealousy's for women but some niggaz is bitch made
They make you wanna run across they head with a switchblade
They point the finger at me, sayin I'm bugged
My flow's crack, you listen? Your fuckin brain's on drugs
Look ice drippin on my neck, hands grippin on a tec
Fool trippin threw a set, you can get yo' ass wet
Cards messin up my deck, screws loose show respect
You try to come at me kid yo' ass better come correct
Now, do you understand what I mean in saying that 50 is a minstrel. This bullshit is what White America wants Black artists to say. It keeps them superior, and it keeps our people subjugated.