- Not long ago, I was having lunch in a KFC in Harlem,
sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about 14. Since 1) it was
1:30 on a school day, 2) they were carrying book bags, and 3) they seemed
to be in no hurry, I assumed they were skipping school. They were extremely
loud and unruly, tossing food at one another and leaving it on the floor.
- Black people ran the restaurant and made up the bulk
of the customers, but it was hard to see much healthy "black community"
here. After repeatedly warning the boys to stop throwing food and keep
quiet, the manager finally told them to leave. The kids ignored her. Only
after she called a male security guard did they start slowly making their
way out, tauntingly circling the restaurant before ambling off. These teens
clearly weren't monsters, but they seemed to consider themselves exempt
from public norms of behavior - as if they had begun to check out of mainstream
- What struck me most, though, was how fully the boys'
musichard-edged rap, preaching bone-deep dislike of authorityprovided them
with a continuing soundtrack to their antisocial behavior. So completely
was rap ingrained in their consciousness that every so often, one or another
of them would break into cocky, expletive-laden rap lyrics, accompanied
by the angular, bellicose gestures typical of rap performance. A couple
of his buddies would then join him. Rap was a running decoration in their
- Many writers and thinkers see a kind of informed political
engagement, even a revolutionary potential, in rap and hip-hop. They couldn't
be more wrong. By reinforcing the stereotypes that long hindered blacks,
and by teaching young blacks that a thuggish adversarial stance is the
properly "authentic" response to a presumptively racist society,
rap retards black success.
- The venom that suffuses rap had little place in black
popular culture - indeed, in black attitudes - before the 1960s. The hip-hop
ethos can trace its genealogy to the emergence in that decade of a black
ideology that equated black strength and authentic black identity with
a militantly adversarial stance toward American society. In the angry new
mood, captured by Malcolm X's upraised fist, many blacks (and many more
white liberals) began to view black crime and violence as perfectly natural,
even appropriate, responses to the supposed dehumanization and poverty
inflicted by a racist society. Briefly, this militant spirit, embodied
above all in the Black Panthers, infused black popular culture, from the
plays of LeRoi Jones to "blaxploitation" movies, like Melvin
Van Peebles's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, which celebrated the black
criminal rebel as a hero.
- But blaxploitation and similar genres burned out fast.
The memory of whites blatantly stereotyping blacks was too recent for the
typecasting in something like Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song not to
offend many blacks. Observed black historian Lerone Bennett: "There
is a certain grim white humor in the fact that the black marches and demonstrations
of the 1960s reached artistic fulfillment" with "provocative
and ultimately insidious reincarnations of all the Sapphires and Studds
- Early rap mostly steered clear of the Sapphires and Studds,
beginning not as a growl from below but as happy party music. The first
big rap hit, the Sugar Hill Gang's 1978 "Rapper's Delight," featured
a catchy bass groove that drove the music forward, as the jolly rapper
celebrated himself as a ladies' man and a great dancer. Soon, kids across
America were rapping along with the nonsense chorus:
- I said a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip-hip
hop, ah you don't stop the rock it to the bang bang boogie, say up jump
the boogie, to the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
- A string of ebullient raps ensued in the months ahead.
At the time, I assumed it was a harmless craze, certain to run out of steam
- But rap took a dark turn in the early 1980s, as this
"bubble gum" music gave way to a "gangsta" style that
picked up where blaxploitation left off. Now top rappers began to write
edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare or drugs and promiscuity. Grandmaster
Flash's ominous 1982 hit, "The Message," with its chorus, "It's
like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under,"
marked the change in sensibility. It depicted ghetto life as profoundly
- You grow in the ghetto, living second rate And your eyes
will sing a song of deep hate. The places you play and where you stay Looks
like one great big alley way. You'll admire all the numberbook takers,
Thugs, pimps and pushers, and the big money makers.
- Music critics fell over themselves to praise "The
Message," treating it as the poetry of the streets - as the elite
media has characterized hip-hop ever since. The song's grim fatalism struck
a chord; twice, I've heard blacks in audiences for talks on race cite the
chorus to underscore a point about black victimhood. So did the warning
it carried: "Don't push me, 'cause I'm close to the edge," menacingly
raps Melle Mel. The ultimate message of "The Message" - that
ghetto life is so hopeless that an explosion of violence is both justified
and imminent - would become a hip-hop mantra in the years ahead.
- The angry, oppositional stance that "The Message"
reintroduced into black popular culture transformed rap from a fad into
a multi-billion-dollar industry that sold more than 80 million records
in the U.S. in 2002 - nearly 13 percent of all recordings sold. To rap
producers like Russell Simmons, earlier black pop was just sissy music.
He despised the "soft, unaggressive music (and non-threatening images)"
of artists like Michael Jackson or Luther Vandross. "So the first
chance I got," he says, "I did exactly the opposite."
- In the two decades since "The Message," hip-hop
performers have churned out countless rap numbers that celebrate a ghetto
life of unending violence and criminality. Schooly D's "PSK What Does
It Mean?" is a case in point:
- Copped my pistols, jumped into the ride. Got at the bar,
copped some flack, Copped some cheeba-cheeba, it wasn't wack. Got to the
place, and who did I see? A sucka-ass nigga tryin to sound like me. Put
my pistol up against his head - I said, "Sucka-ass nigga, I should
shoot you dead."
- The protagonist of a rhyme by KRS-One (a hip-hop star
who would later speak out against rap violence) actually pulls the trigger:
- Knew a drug dealer by the name of Peter - Had to buck
him down with my 9 millimeter.
- Police forces became marauding invaders in the gangsta-rap
imagination. The late West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur expressed the attitude:
- Ya gotta know how to shake the snakes, nigga, 'Cause
the police love to break a nigga, Send him upstate 'cause they straight
up hate the nigga.
- Shakur's anti-police tirade seems tame, however, compared
with Ice-T's infamous "Cop Killer":
- I got my black shirt on. I got my black gloves on. I
got my ski mask on. This shit's been too long. I got my 12-gauge sawed-off.
I got my headlights turned off. I'm 'bout to bust some shots off. I'm 'bout
to dust some cops off. . . . I'm 'bout to kill me somethin' A pig stopped
me for nuthin'! Cop killer, better you than me. Cop killer, fuck police
brutality! . . . Die, die, die pig, die! Fuck the police! . . . Fuck the
- Rap also began to offer some of the most icily misogynistic
music human history has ever known. Here's Schooly D again:
- Tell you now, brother, this ain't no joke, She got me
to the crib, she laid me on the bed, I fucked her from my toes to the top
of my head. I finally realized the girl was a whore, Gave her ten dollars,
she asked me for some more.
- Jay-Z's "Is That Yo Bitch?" mines similar themes:
- I don't love 'em, I fuck 'em. I don't chase 'em, I duck
'em. I replace 'em with another one. . . . She be all on my dick.
- Or, as N.W.A. (an abbreviation of "Niggers with
Attitude") tersely sums up the hip-hop worldview: "Life ain't
nothin' but bitches and money."
- Rap's musical accompaniment mirrors the brutality of
rap lyrics in its harshness and repetition. Simmons fashions his recordings
in contempt for euphony. "What we used for melody was implied melody,
and what we used for music was sounds - beats, scratches, stuff played
backward, nothing pretty or sweet." The success of hip-hop has resulted
in an ironic reversal. In the seventies, screaming hard rock was in fashion
among young whites, while sweet, sinuous funk and soul ruled the black
airwaves - a difference I was proud of. But in the eighties, rock quieted
down, and black music became the assault on the ears and soul. Anyone who
grew up in urban America during the eighties won't soon forget the young
men strolling down streets, blaring this sonic weapon from their boom boxes,
with defiant glares daring anyone to ask them to turn it down.
- Hip-hop exploded into popular consciousness at the same
time as the music video, and rappers were soon all over MTV, reinforcing
in images the ugly world portrayed in rap lyrics. Video after video features
rap stars flashing jewelry, driving souped-up cars, sporting weapons, angrily
gesticulating at the camera, and cavorting with interchangeable, mindlessly
gyrating, scantily clad women.
- Of course, not all hip-hop is belligerent or profane
- entire CDs of gang-bangin', police-baiting, woman-bashing invective would
get old fast to most listeners. But it's the nastiest rap that sells best,
and the nastiest cuts that make a career. As I write, the top ten best-selling
hip-hop recordings are 50 Cent (currently with the second-best-selling
record in the nation among all musical genres), Bone Crusher, Lil' Kim,
Fabolous, Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz, Cam'ron Presents the Diplomats,
Busta Rhymes, Scarface, Mobb Deep, and Eminem. Every one of these groups
or performers personifies willful, staged opposition to society - Lil'
Jon and crew even regale us with a song called "Don't Give a Fuck"
- and every one celebrates the ghetto as "where it's at." Thus,
the occasional dutiful songs in which a rapper urges men to take responsibility
for their kids or laments senseless violence are mere garnish. Keeping
the thug front and center has become the quickest and most likely way to
become a star.
- No hip-hop luminary has worked harder than Sean "P.
Diddy" Combs, the wildly successful rapper, producer, fashion mogul,
and CEO of Bad Boy Records, to cultivate a gangsta image - so much so that
he's blurred the line between playing the bad boy and really being one.
Combs may have grown up middle-class in Mount Vernon, New York, and even
have attended Howard University for a while, but he's proven he can gang-bang
with the worst. Cops charged Combs with possession of a deadly weapon in
1995. In 1999, he faced charges for assaulting a rival record executive.
Most notoriously, police charged him that year with firing a gun at a nightclub
in response to an insult, injuring three bystanders, and with fleeing the
scene with his entourage (including then-pal Jennifer "J. Lo"
Lopez). Combs got off, but his young rapper protege Jamal "Shyne"
Barrow went to prison for firing the gun.
- Combs and his crew are far from alone among rappers in
keeping up the connection between "rap and rap sheet," as critic
Kelefa Sanneh artfully puts it. Several prominent rappers, including superstar
Tupac Shakur, have gone down in hails of bullets - with other rappers often
suspected in the killings. Death Row Records producer Marion "Suge"
Knight just finished a five-year prison sentence for assault and federal
weapons violations. Current rage 50 Cent flaunts his bullet scars in photos;
cops recently arrested him for hiding assault weapons in his car. Of the
top ten hip-hop sellers mentioned above, five have had scrapes with the
law. In 2000, at least five different fights broke out at the Source Hiphop
Awards - intended to be the rap industry's Grammys. The final brawl, involving
up to 100 people in the audience and spilling over onto the stage, shut
the ceremony down - right after a video tribute to slain rappers. Small
wonder a popular rap website goes by the name rapsheet.com.
- Many fans, rappers, producers, and intellectuals defend
hip-hop's violence, both real and imagined, and its misogyny as a revolutionary
cry of frustration from disempowered youth. For Simmons, gangsta raps "teach
listeners something about the lives of the people who create them and remind
them that these people exist." 50 Cent recently told Vibe magazine,
"Mainstream America can look at me and say, 'That's the mentality
of a young man from the 'hood.'" University of Pennsylvania black
studies professor Michael Eric Dyson has written a book-length paean to
Shakur, praising him for "challenging narrow artistic visions of black
identity" and for "artistically exploring the attractions and
limits of black moral and social subcultures" - just one of countless
fawning treatises on rap published in recent years. The National Council
of Teachers of English, recommending the use of hip-hop lyrics in urban
public school classrooms (as already happens in schools in Oakland, Los
Angeles, and other cities), enthuses that "hip-hop can be used as
a bridge linking the seemingly vast span between the streets and the world
- But we're sorely lacking in imagination if in 2003 -
long after the civil rights revolution proved a success, at a time of vaulting
opportunity for African Americans, when blacks find themselves at the top
reaches of society and politics - we think that it signals progress when
black kids rattle off violent, sexist, nihilistic, lyrics, like Russians
reciting Pushkin. Some defended blaxploitation pictures as revolutionary,
too, but the passage of time has exposed the silliness of such a contention.
"The message of Sweetback is that if you can get it together and stand
up to the Man, you can win," Van Peebles once told an interviewer.
But win what? All Sweetback did, from what we see in the movie, was avoid
jail - and it would be nice to have more useful counsel on overcoming than
"kicking the Man's ass." Claims about rap's political potential
will look equally gestural in the future. How is it progressive to describe
life as nothing but "bitches and money"? Or to tell impressionable
black kids, who'd find every door open to them if they just worked hard
and learned, that blowing a rival's head off is "real"? How helpful
is rap's sexism in a community plagued by rampant illegitimacy and an excruciatingly
low marriage rate?
- The idea that rap is an authentic cry against oppression
is all the sillier when you recall that black Americans had lots more to
be frustrated about in the past but never produced or enjoyed music as
nihilistic as 50 Cent or N.W.A. On the contrary, black popular music was
almost always affirmative and hopeful. Nor do we discover music of such
violence in places of great misery like Ethiopia or the Congounless it's
imported American hip-hop.
- Given the hip-hop world's reflexive alienation, it's
no surprise that its explicit political efforts, such as they are, are
hardly progressive. Simmons has founded the "Hip-Hop Summit Action
Network" to bring rap stars and fans together in order to forge a
"bridge between hip-hop and politics." But HSAN's policy positions
are mostly tired bromides. Sticking with the long-discredited idea that
urban schools fail because of inadequate funding from the stingy, racist
white Establishment, for example, HSAN joined forces with the teachers'
union to protest New York mayor Bloomberg's proposed education budget for
its supposed lack of generosity. HSAN has also stuck it to President Bush
for invading Iraq. And it has vociferously protested the affixing of advisory
labels on rap CDs that warn parents about the obscene language inside.
Fighting for rappers' rights to obscenity: that's some kind of revolution!
- Okay, maybe rap isn't progressive in any meaningful sense,
some observers will admit; but isn't it just a bunch of kids blowing off
steam and so nothing to worry about? I think that response is too easy.
With music videos, DVD players, Walkmans, the Internet, clothes, and magazines
all making hip-hop an accompaniment to a person's entire existence, we
need to take it more seriously. In fact, I would argue that it is seriously
harmful to the black community.
- The rise of nihilistic rap has mirrored the breakdown
of community norms among inner-city youth over the last couple of decades.
It was just as gangsta rap hit its stride that neighborhood elders began
really to notice that they'd lost control of young black men, who were
frequently drifting into lives of gang violence and drug dealing. Well
into the seventies, the ghetto was a shabby part of town, where, despite
unemployment and rising illegitimacy, a healthy number of people were doing
their best to "keep their heads above water," as the theme song
of the old black sitcom Good Times put it.
- By the eighties, the ghetto had become a ruleless war
zone, where black people were their own worst enemies. It would be silly,
of course, to blame hip-hop for this sad downward spiral, but by glamorizing
life in the "war zone," it has made it harder for many of the
kids stuck there to extricate themselves. Seeing a privileged star like
Sean Combs behave like a street thug tells those kids that there's nothing
more authentic than ghetto pathology, even when you've got wealth beyond
- The attitude and style expressed in the hip-hop "identity"
keeps blacks down. Almost all hip-hop, gangsta or not, is delivered with
a cocky, confrontational cadence that is fast becoming - as attested to
by the rowdies at KFC - a common speech style among young black males.
Similarly, the arm-slinging, hand-hurling gestures of rap performers have
made their way into many young blacks' casual gesticulations, becoming
integral to their self-expression. The problem with such speech and mannerisms
is that they make potential employers wary of young black men and can impede
a young black's ability to interact comfortably with co-workers and customers.
The black community has gone through too much to sacrifice upward mobility
to the passing kick of an adversarial hip-hop "identity."
- On a deeper level, there is something truly unsettling
and tragic about the fact that blacks have become the main agents in disseminating
debilitating - dare I say racist - images of themselves. Rap guru Russell
Simmons claims that "the coolest stuff about American culture - be
it language, dress, or attitude - comes from the underclass. Always has
and always will." Yet back in the bad old days, blacks often complained
- with some justification - that the media too often depicted blacks simply
as uncivilized. Today, even as television and films depict blacks at all
levels of success, hip-hop sends the message that blacks are... uncivilized.
I find it striking that the cry-racism crowd doesn't condemn it.
- For those who insist that even the invisible structures
of society reinforce racism, the burden of proof should rest with them
to explain just why hip-hop's bloody and sexist lyrics and videos and the
criminal behavior of many rappers wouldn't have a powerfully negative effect
upon whites' conception of black people.
- Sadly, some black leaders just don't seem to care what
lesson rap conveys. Consider Savannah's black high schools, which hosted
the local rapper Camoflauge as a guest speaker several times before his
murder earlier this year. Here's a representative lyric:
- Gimme tha keys to tha car, I'm ready for war. When we
ride on these niggas smoke that ass like a 'gar. Hit your block with a
Glock, clear the set with a Tech... You think I'm jokin, see if you laughing
when tha pistol be smokin - Leave you head split wide open And you bones
- More than a few of the Concerned Black People inviting
this "artist" to speak to the impressionable youth of Savannah
would presumably be the first to cry out about "how whites portray
blacks in the media."
- Far from decrying the stereotypes rampant in rap's present-day
blaxploitation, many hip-hop defenders pull the "whitey-does-it-too"
trick. They point to the Godfather movies or The Sopranos as proof that
violence and vulgarity are widespread in American popular culture, so that
singling out hip-hop for condemnation is simply bigotry. Yet such a defense
is pitifully weak. No one really looks for a way of life to emulate or
a political project to adopt in The Sopranos. But for many of its advocates,
hip-hop, with its fantasies of revolution and community and politics, is
more than entertainment. It forms a bedrock of young black identity.
- Nor will it do to argue that hip-hop isn't "black"
music, since most of its buyers are white, or because the "hip-hop
revolution" is nominally open to people of all colors. That whites
buy more hip-hop recordings than blacks do is hardly surprising, given
that whites vastly outnumber blacks nationwide. More to the point, anyone
who claims that rap isn't black music will need to reconcile that claim
with the widespread wariness among blacks of white rappers like Eminem,
accused of "stealing our music and giving it back to us."
- At 2 AM on the New York subway not long ago, I saw another
scene - more dispiriting than my KFC encounter with the rowdy rapping teens
- that captures the essence of rap's destructiveness. A young black man
entered the car and began to rap loudly - profanely, arrogantly - with
the usual wild gestures. This went on for five irritating minutes. When
no one paid attention, he moved on to another car, all the while spouting
his doggerel. This was what this young black man presented as his message
to the world - his oratory, if you will.
- Anyone who sees such behavior as a path to a better future
- anyone, like Professor Dyson, who insists that hip-hop is an urgent "critique
of a society that produces the need for the thug persona" - should
step back and ask himself just where, exactly, the civil rights era blacks
might have gone wrong in lacking a hip-hop revolution. They created the
world of equality, striving, and success I live and thrive in.
- Hip-hop creates nothing.
- Copyright The Manhattan Institute
- From Morgan Klein
- Regarding the 'hip hop holding blacks back' article,
while what is written is all true, the author does not consider that as
like attracts like. Those inclined to already view the world from such
a position as the disenchanted black youth will seek the rap artists that
validate a violent perspective. However, those who are more intellectually/spiritually
oriented will naturally gravitate toward the hip hop artists that center
more around those views and positivity, and there are plenty of them out
there. There is a whole culture of positive hip hop that decries most of
the values associated with the rap culture of which the author speaks,
and ultimately it falls into the responsibility of the individual to either
accept what facets of hip hop culture the mainstream media has chosen to
popularize, or to hunt for something with more profundity. Blaming rap
for the black kids in KFC's rude behavior is like blaming the tobacco industry
for an individual's decision to smoke.
Rap is a culture -- not a musical art form. If it were merely music, a
pastime, a diversion... it would not have anywhere near the impact it has
on people, black or white. We have suburban white kids now "pimping"
and walking and dressing and talking and emulating "Gangsta"
and "Hip Hop" and "Rap" inner-city CULTURE and its
icons and overlords, and that includes the drugs, the demeaning of women
and an attitude of self-destruction disrespect for authority and aggrandizement
of ignorance and personal failure otherwise utterly foreign to the suburban
white communities, so it's no leap of rationale to realize what its doing
to the black community. The culture of rap/hip hop is a culture of apathy,
spawned by the welfare state, and like a sexually transmitted disease,
it's spreading itself and infecting others in different strata. There's
nothing redeeming about it, nothing artistically unique or worthy. Its
gutter trash and it makes people into gutter trash. It's not a fad, or
a phase. It's a disease, or better yet, the symptom of a disease.
From Nick Helt
- Dear Jeff,
- I am white. I am part of the minority. I listen to "underground"
independant rap. I dont listen to the garbage that continually gets fed
to the masses. There is a movement going on that isnt about the materialistic
nonsense that they portray on television. I can tell by the comments you
chose to post, that these people have no idea what hiphop started as. It
was not about what it is today.
- Hiphop started as a way to stay out of trouble. When
people had a disagreement, they would battle not with fist or guns, but
with skill. The skill on the microphone or the skill to break(as in breakdancin').
There are many independant performers out there that are making alot of
cash, but choose not to get signed to major labels because that would limit
their freedom(of creativity & speech).
- I can understand why people see that rap is nothing but
negativity, but thats just what "they" want people to see. The
corporations only want you to see the worst. Its my belief that they know
it could be used as a revolutionary tool for the masses. Thats why they
keep everyone distracted by the masonic dollar bills. Its to keep most
people distracted from reality and the truth that is going on under the
- The problem is not rap, its the corporations that choose
what to show as rap. Rap has many faces and just because you only see one
side to it, doesnt mean it is ALL trash.
- Please, if there is any positive comments about rap,
would you post them.
- I love your site, but it seems like this issue only has
- Sondjata Olatunji
- This article was recently posted to a discussion group
that I frequent. While the initial hook about the obnoxious young men at
the Harlem KFC sparked my interest, the ensuing "facts" were
erroneous and would be very misleading to the untutored reader.
- At the outset let me say that I agree that Rap music
has taken a rather nasty turn in the past decade and there is an unfortunate
massive influence on the today's youth. However, not all of the ills that
were described here are ascribable to Hip-Hop.
- The first error was the confusion of Rap music, and it
is music, and Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a culture four distinct elements: Rap
Music, DJaying, Break-dance and Graffiti art. From the Break-dance portion
we could derive the Hip Hop clothing that began somewhat with jumpsuits
and sneakers to the Phat Farm, Sean Johns, etc of today.
- McWhorter errors continue with this statement:
- "The venom that suffuses rap had little place in
black popular culture - indeed, in black attitudes - before the 1960s.
The hip-hop ethos can trace its genealogy to the emergence in that decade
of a black ideology that equated black strength and authentic black identity
with a militantly adversarial stance toward American society. In the angry
new mood, captured by Malcolm X's upraised fist, many blacks (and many
more white liberals) began to view black crime and violence as perfectly
natural, even appropriate, responses to the supposed dehumanization and
poverty inflicted by a racist society."
- Surely McWhorter is not suggesting that Malcolm X actually
thought that black crime and violence was a natural phenomenon to be acceptable
by blacks. Also, that Militant mood is how many of the gains that blacks
earned were obtained.
- Next McWhorter writes:
- "But rap took a dark turn in the early 1980s, as
this "bubble gum" music gave way to a "gangsta" style
that picked up where blaxploitation left off. Now top rappers began to
write edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare or drugs and promiscuity.
Grandmaster Flash's ominous 1982 hit, "The Message," with its
chorus, "It's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep
from going under," marked the change in sensibility. It depicted ghetto
life as profoundly desolate:"
- As if to prove to those of us who are familiar with the
track in question that he does not know what he is talking about. "The
Message" as in no way shape or form "celebrating"
- Urban pathologies. This track was a historically accurate
description of some places in NYC. Stating the obvious is not necessarily
celebration, and in this case is definitely not celebration. The chorus
in question can be viewed in many ways. McWhorter decided that it should
be seen as an excuse for black crime and violence. Perhaps it could be
interpreted that the narrator may be contemplating suicide or as happened
to many black men of that era, indulge in drug use, go insane, beat his
wife, etc. You would think that McWhorter has never had a day where he
felt that if one thing else went wrong, he would go over the edge. I think
- McWhorter then attempts to say that "The Message"
was the song that kicked off Hip Hop's rise to a multi million-dollar industry.
Not true. It was not until Run-DMC's cross over hits such as My Adidas
and "Walk this way." Along with PE "bring the noise"
cross over hits and the advent of Music Videos, did Hip Hop set its foot
into the mainstream.
- The next and most common mistake that McWhorter made
was the citation of Ice-T's "Cop Killer" track. First it should
be known that the group that Ice T produced this under was a Thrash Metal
group and not a Rap group. This means it was not even directed at Black
youth. In fact if you asked most black youth about said track, they probably
have heard of it but never actually heard it. The only connection this
track has with Hip Hop is the tangential fact that Ice -T also raps.
- Having dealt with those glaring errors, we should keep
the following in mind; Black people do not own or control the media apparatus
that continually pumps out the garbage that we hear. It would be easy to
blame Simmons and Puff, but in reality, just as it was possibly to find
Africans willing to cooperate with European slave traders, you will always
find a black willing to anything for a buck. The fact of the matter is
that once Hip Hop crossed over and Time Warner, BMG and Arista found out
that they too could make money selling rap not only to blacks but to the
wider white youth market who fed on "counter-culture" to annoy
their parents and be "independent" they found what works. Furthermore,
as pointed out by other artists, When Hip Hop came to its own with groups
like Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, and PE's Fear of a Black planet,
NWA gangsta rap came out and pro black, anti-violence got pushed aside
by these same record companies. Along with this the consolidation of radio
ownership between Clear Channel and Radio One resulted in narrowcasting
of music to the younger people whose ability to discern garbage is very
overrated. Again the purse string holders and gatekeepers were 99% white.
These same whites devised rules that determined that certain things could
not be said on air in records. Certain commentaries about Jews, Italians,
etc. have been reported by artists such as Chuck D, of PE fame, to be things
that will get a record or single stopped dead. Meanwhile Blacks are free
to call each other all manner of "nigga, bitch, ho.' Sounds like a
insidious double standard if you ask me.
- Lastly, to say that Rap is not music and has no value
is to say that Poetry is not literature and has no value. Rap is poetry
regardless of the subject matter. Rap music is music in as much as beating
a drum is music. It may not be what McWhorter wants to listen to, but he
does not get to determine what is music. Back to the rude kids. I'll tell
you what the problem with the kids are: their parents. I listened to Rap
Music as a child and had a healthy fear of my mother's belt. I spoke and
still speak "properly." I enjoy Rap, Jazz (not that junk on CD
101), Reggae and R&B, and I Play the piano. I am the result of a parent
that made it clear to me that regardless of what music I liked, I was to
be in school on the daily, get nothing less than a B, graduate from college
and move out the house upon graduation. I would wager my next months income
that these fellows parents are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.
That is what is really holding blacks back.
- From Andrew Simmons
- This has been a hot topic between myself and co-worker/good
friend. While he enjoys the pop culture world spear-headed by Britney Spears
(no pun intended) I enjoy the Hip Hop culture and Dance music culture of
the inner city. While I tried to explain to him that Britney Spears is
doing nothing but showing young pre-teen and teenage girls how to carry
themselves as sex-objects (inspired by your "Girls Gone Wicked"
article) I described to him how the rappers are destroying the chances
of the young black community with their illogical, nonsense-filled and
self-destructive ideologies. Coincidentally today I find this article.
- Our rappers as well as Ms. Spears have no idea that their
record companies and media managers have chucked them into a spotlight
which blinds them and they are left with a translucent view of their followers
and the effect that they have on their followers. How? Well as an aspiring
entertainer you want to gain attention and feel as though you are pleasing
your audiencewhich they are (as well as fortune). Unfortunately what they
are administering is negative, a negativity which embodies a host of warped
- It seems as though in the case of the rap music the defamation
machine gets the day off. There is not as much of any need to work over-diligently
at painting the Black community as bad or negative, these rappers are doing
it for a small piece of the pie. In the community the NY Post sells the
most (no offense to NY Post readers). Average conversation is about rap
music and the performers; a star gazing discussion which produces a need
to emulate. The people are not reading as much. They let AOL show them
the headlines. The stage has been set years ago. The radio in NYC which
is dominated by HOT 97 (WQHT 97.1) promotes this retarding culture with
such volume. The disc jockeys have no idea or clue how they effect the
youth which says a lot about them. I also believe the station owners and
program directors are in the game for fortune. Proper English is a thing
of the past although I can really understand why someone as a descendant
of African slaves would not want to accept English as their language but
that is another discussion. This culture makes all cultures but the Hip
Hop Culture RICH. I visit the local "Street Wear" store owned
and operated by immigrants who count their profits while watching the patrons
every second they are in the store. Blasting this hypnotic music.
- I have TOO many feelings about this topic.
- My thought which prompted this message is that these
zombies don't even have views so please understand that they don't represent
Black Culture. They get the most airtime but they don't speak for me.
- PS. I am happy that I can visit your site for ANOTHER
- From Vinson Johnson
- The problem that no one has addressed here is economics.
Just like any other business, the bottom line is money.
- If people would not buy the bulls..t that these rappers
were putting out, then they'd be forced to write about other things. But
because Eminem sold 7 million records and 50 Cent sold 5 million, that
content is what the record labels will sell.
- There was a time when we had positive rappers. But because
their records were not selling to millions of people, the companies yanked
their contracts. The bottom line is money. As long as the so called "black
trash" music sells, then that kind of music will be promoted.
- I don't appreciate anyone calling this art form not music.
Some of the best musicians have participated in this music and it is real
music and it is here to stay. What the problem is, is that we have a society
that is a glutton for this type of entertainment.
- You've got mimics of these lyrics in all parts of society,
not just the "black" community.
- This type of stuff has been going on in politics for
centuries. Destroy your enemies and all that.
- It blows my mind as to how shallow people are in terms
of casting blame for the actions of people.
- The KFC thing and the subway thing is a reflection of
a system that has failed. Don't blame the music for a society gone bad
and the greed of Corporations.
- From Max
- Hi, Jeff. I have been reading the postings at the top
of your web page today concerning rap music. I have to say that I deplore
the largely misogynistic, violent lyrics of rap. In fact I would say if
you put the letter C in front of rap then you will get the general drift
of how I feel about this particular genre of music. Sorry, Jeff, about
the language but it's important you understand how much I dislike this
music for you to appreciate my next comment.
- Having said the above there is one rap song I heard many
years ago, and actually bought the record, and I would wholeheartedly recommend
that you give it a listen, Jeff. Even today, about 10 years after I bought
this record the intelligence, insight and, dare I say it, prophetic insight
of the lyrics still send shivers down my spine. If George Orwell had been
born in the rap era he may well even have written something along similar
- The artist is: The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
- The song is: Television, The Drug of The Nation
- It is freely available from P2P.
- Best Regards
- YES - Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back
- By Heather Sheridan
- I am African-American, and I agree: hip-hop and rap culture
are dangerous to blacks. The level of cultural damage being wreaked by
this so-called "music form" is chillingly incalculable. A think
tank of supremacist Klansmen could not have envisioned a more efficient
method of ridiculing and disempowering a despised race of human beings.
I consider rap and hip-hop the artistic versions of the AIDS virus. They
arose during the same period in history, they attach themselves to a host
and then destroy it from within, and every time you think you're about
to defeat them, they mutate into another form and then replicate. Similarly,
the people most at risk to be infected by each of these devastators are
the most mystifyingly enthusiastic about engaging in the reckless and stupid
behaviors that wind them up infected.
- An entire generation of males has been brainwashed into
no longer thinking, no longer writing or speaking intelligently, but instead
mumbling rap lyrics like mantras, nodding their heads like catatonic idiots
to a beat the rest of us cannot hear - all day - and doing what the lyrics
suggest in their own lives, to their own detriment. A generation of females
now think their bodies are gaudy currency, to be traded and negotiated
at will for burgers, fries, and baby's formula for the day. Ask yourself:
would you hire a young person with a deliberate limp, clutching his testicles
in one hand, clutching a cellphone in the other, with straggled, ugly hair,
poor hygiene, and gold teeth and jewelry, whose only language is an unending
stream or poorly rhyming couplets about shooting, robbing businesses, and
- Would you hire a young woman with flashy
copper hair, outrageous jewelry, rhinestone-studded dragon talons on her
fingertips, a baby on her hip and a second baby on the way, wearing a thong
you can see jutting out of her mall-level denim jeans, with an invented
name like Taniqua or Sheniquieyah, who won't even answer phones when asked,
and whose idea of a hard day's work is to gossip the 8 hours through about
what babydaddy did this, and what babydaddy did that? Thanks to Affirmative
Action, which I, a black woman, oppose, this is what is probably going
on downtown at your local capitol's government offices, and is part of
the reason customer service is so poor today, and nothing in America runs
on time anymore.
- And if whites continue to turn a blind eye to the fact
that there are two black Americas -- one comprised of educated blacks,
the other of what could impolitely be termed "black trash" --
and if white America continues to lump all African-Americans into one huge
monolithic demographic they are afraid of offending by declaring rap "offensive",
this is the hiring pool you and I will be forced to choose from for the
remainder of the decade. Whites will miss availing themselves of the very
blacks -- millions of us -- who would stand right beside them driving this
"music form" into its belated grave.
- In less than two complete decades,
by a single form of repetitive, mind-numbing so-called "music",
all the previous struggle and eloquence of the former black America has
been reduced to ruin: swaggering, foul-mouthed, gimp-legged, testicle-clutching,
prowess-faking, loud-talking, gun-toting, beeper-packing, prostituted ruin.
And whom have we to thank for it?
- One could offer that it is the nameless hierarchy behind
all the record labels and television networks, they who have ever made
all the decisions about how many times which race should be depicted and
in what way, making yet another faceless and ultimately racist decision
to keep pumping rap and hip-hop music out like rotted meat pulsing out
of some national grinding machine, like poisonous piped-in lullabyes to
pacify and entertain some despised collective black "baby" -
- But ultimately this is the fault of black people themselves.
- As a black woman, I was excoriated profoundly and with
great, ridiculing mass malice whenever I dared to say openly that rap was
not music and hip-hop was going to eventually call in a price from the
black community. Uneducated blacks brayed with laughter and pointed scorn
at me, calling me "Wanna Be White" and other names, for opting
to step out of the company line and call, for lack of a better phrase,
a spade a spade. (Educated blacks always agreed with me.)
- As a member of the entertainment industry, which I am,
I was ignored by colleagues when I asked why rap was still being signed,
produced and promoted when it has clearly hit the limits of every music
genre's twenty year lease on the collective consciousness. I may be politically
incorrect on your site for saying this, but Jews were the most supportive
of my views and asked me, mystified, "Why do blacks LISTEN to this
stuff? Don't they realize what it's SAYING about them? YOU realize... why
don't THEY?" But the young whites in my industry seem hypnotized.
Some of them adore rap. Their children have bought hip-hop materials, be
they clothing, CDs, what have you. Most of what I perceive is an industry-wide
white horror of disavowing rap culture in any way lest they be categozied
as racist. That seems to be the cause of all this from the media end.