I’m sorry, but at what point do rappers become ridiculous? Yes, I understand that you’re insanely wealthy and you own 16 cars and ALL of your bitches (of which you have several) are extremely fly as well as half-naked, not to mention there’s a gigantic pool in your backyard where all of your fly bitches congregate.
I get it. I got it the first 847 times every commercial rapper (save for one or—well, one) tried to stuff that garbage down my throat. Can’t anyone be a little more original?
The culture of materialism and degradation that’s posing as hip hop makes me nauseous. Listening to modern-day mainstream rap after growing up during hip hop’s golden age is like finding out your little sister has become a prostitute.
Call me crazy, but it should be a little more difficult to become a successful rapper than to adhere to all of the simple stereotypes. There should be more to rising up rap’s ranks than slathering yourself with jewelry, surrounding yourself with expensive objects and scantily-clad women, and bragging about how much dope you moved last week.
It should have something do with skill. It should have everything to do with art.
I rant because I love hip hop. I love where it came from and I love what it stands for.
I do not love the festival of wackness that currently masquerades as hip hop, convinces the world at large this is what hip hop is, and reduces a culture that spoke for and spoke to marginalized communities and shaped and molded so many young lives down to a punch line and a paycheck.
At one time, hip hop depicted a reality that society systematically ignored but desperately needed to see. As much as it was about a sound, it was about a story.
Granted, not every rap song was a bleak portrait of life in the ghetto on par with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” or a searing attack on police brutality like N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police.” But it was at least an authentic slice of life from the rapper’s point of view.
Now, by and large, commercial rap simply celebrates self-destruction via drugs, violence and casual sex while mass-producing the illusion of a never-ending party.
There’s little room for the real world when you’re drowning in Cristal.
Some say the problem with rap lies with the industry. In other words, as long as record execs are signing checks for any chump willing to rhyme about physically assaulting strangers in between escapades with voluptuous women, radio rap will not change.
Others say the problem lies with the radio stations that play the music. Or with the fans who buy it.
But at some point, the responsibility has to fall back to the artists.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard and having something to show for it.
There is something wrong with perpetuating a modern-day minstrel show just to “get that paper.”
Especially when you’re in a position to positively, or negatively, influence so many lives.
Especially when there are so many issues worthy of addressing through music that don’t involve choosing which diamond-encrusted watch to wear to the club.
Rap’s obsession with shiny objects and fat asses seems to have blinded the masses about what’s truly valuable. But hip hop collective Jurassic 5 got it right in “What’s Golden”:
“We’re not ballin’/or shot callin’/we take it back to the days of yes yallin’/we’re holdin’ onto what’s golden.”
Hip hop in its purest form is golden, more valuable than any jewelry a misguided rapper could wear.
It is brilliant. It is beautiful.
It is sad to hear what so many teenagers blast out of their cars today, never having known the difference.
Lauren Carter is a writer, editor and creative consultant based in Boston. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and check out her blog at www.bylaurencarter.com. For more information about her writing, editing or consulting services, email her at [email protected].