I wrote this article while listening to The Water[s] by Mick Jenkins. A well respectable artist based out of Chicago, who recently got signed to Cinematic Music Group. We need more artists like Mick Jenkins during times like this. Artists that act as revolutionaries through music. Anyways, as I scroll through my twitter feed I see all the photos and tweets about the current madness going on Ferguson. I also seen our president Barack Obama speak upon the issue live from Marthas Vineyard while their city looks like a scene off a movie you were scared would happen in real life. Let’s be real.. “keep it 100” this has been happening. A battle between the oppressed vs the oppressors… the powerless vs the powerful. The media vs the urban community.
As David Banner, Chuck D, and Immortal Technique have spoke about Ferguson I have yet to hear a mainstream rap artist talk about what’s going on. An artist that has so much voice and power whether it be through a song, video, community outreach, or even a tweet. These are the people the youth look up to before any politician, both locally and nationally. I am not here to rant, let me state facts about the power behind hip-hop and how hip-hop can influence our communities both negatively and positively.
Many times you hear an artist claim they are pushing the culture forward, to where? I feel like hip-hop is going backwards, then forwards at the same time. I can’t turn on the radio or television without hearing artists promote materialism, drugs, sex, violence, while degrading woman. Yes, this may be the life these rappers are living, or it may not be. Either way the media controls what is pushed out to the masses. Mainstream hip-hop has mentally enslaved our communities to think that this is cool. I can only wake up those who are ready to get up and work for a better change. Others will continue promoting and consuming the poison the media puts out. I was young but I remember when hip-hop was about empowerment, unity, culture, creativity and hope. With blogs promoting more independent artists, and the shift of the music industry we have the option to choose what we can want to consume via the internet. Darryl “DMC” McDaniels said “The whole purpose of hip-hop is to inspire, to motivate and to educate.”
Next time you hear your local station say “Where Hip-Hop Lives” think about the influence the music has on your community as it decays. If I woke you up think about the opportunities to save your community, they are endless. We can start by supporting local businesses, creatives, activists, organizations, schools, etc. Educating our youth, giving them advice, talking to them about their problems, finding out and sharing resources that are in your city to help shape for a better future. I’ve done my research, multiple hours day after day looking for organizations and individuals with the mission to create a better tomorrow, create tomorrow’s leaders through the art that we love; hip-hop. Activism isn’t always at the podium, or asking for signatures for a petition, standing on the corner with a “Don’t shoot” sign. It’s more than that. It’s more than a hashtag on social media. It’s more than hip-hop. I believe a change can happen, but we have to stay active. It shouldn’t take the death of another innocent man for us to become reactivists.
Kyle Gise is a music business student, urban activist; that uses hip-hop to uplift and inspire the urban youth through the elements of hip-hop. Tweet him at www.twitter.com/ikgodb or shoot him an email at [email protected] to hear about his upcoming tour.