Hip-Hop Has Not Been Immature

Posted on March 14, 2012 by

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[Last edited 3/19/2012]

Checking my wordpress, and this blog entry “Maturation of Hip-hop?” was featured.

Not a bad article. Featured videos of the work that rappers have been doing, including 50 Cent visiting Somalia, Jay-Z visiting Africa to get them potable water.

Looking at the rest of his entries, the guy is clearly a hip-hop fan.  He gets right that the hip-hop culture “promotes inclusion, individuality, identity, and voice.”

But the title of the article bothers me.  Enough to the point where I need to respond.

The “Maturation of Hip-hop?”

The title presumes “hip-hop” had been immature before, as if all rappers, artists, singers who fell into the category of “hip-hop” were just one entity, and that as that one entity, they were all just mental teenagers, who now that he’s watched a few videos from online are now in his opinion beginning the “maturation” process.

“Maturation” as the writer defines it, includes giving back to charities in Africa, the “less fortunate.”   By his definition, before these artists “matured”, the silent, but injurious implication is that artists would be selfish and would NOT give back to the less fortunate.  Of course somewhat forgetting all the community work and visibility that rappers do and promote.

His is a profoundly misleading post title.

Hip-hop has not suddenly matured, artists have used the elements of hip-hop to express themselves, both mature and immature.  There are misogynist, materialistic, racist, sexist lyrics by a lot of artists.  But then are also positive, empowering messages also delivered by hip-hop.   The only change has probably been how media has changed and has us seeing what’s at the front and center of this big category called “hip-hop.”

If you can get beyond lyrics and intimidating looks, a majority if not virtually all hip-hop artists have always been concerned about, have been rapping and singing about, and given back to their communities in the form of charities or community work since its explosion.

However, whatever work they have done has usually been obscured in the news, taking a backseat to the latest and most outrageous fashions they’re sporting, their feuds, their relationships, their scandals.  Additionally, I doubt that most want to talk openly about the good they do;  they’re just people, and contrary to images of self-aggrandization, they probably don’t always want attention.

You type almost ANY rapper or rap group’s name AND a keyword like “charity” on Google, you’ll find that they’ve been generous to some type of if not numerous causes.

Run-DMC

Lil Wayne

Even though Kanye West’s charity recently closed, he’s still been a noted supporter of Doctors without Borders and OXFAM.

Even the hardest core of the popular rappers have given back.

DMX

Eminem

Dr. Dre

Snoop Dogg

Hell, you got effin’ Suge Knight and Waka Flocka joining PETA.

2Pac, the iconic symbol of gangsta rap, was on his way to setting up community centers and food programs.

Now I know that this collection of links wasn’t that extensive a search or scientific.  The links did not mention these rappers doing more than showing up, or whether they received any fees for appearing, or that they made any substantial change through their actions, but it’s just a simple foil against the hint, the suggestion that “hip-hop was immature before”  and that people within hip-hop don’t care.

I remember a lot of music videos being shot with lots of people who didn’t “look” like they should be in music videos; whether it was Nelly

Juvenile

or

even Wocka Flocka

I don’t have any intimate knowledge of the thinking that went behind these videos, but it seems its to represent the realities and the people of a community.  I think the fact that they put these people and their communities in their videos shows a rootedness, a loyalty to people that is often overlooked.

They care, just like most regular folk, but it’s not going to be big news unless it’s your cause they’re supporting.

Also, very important, I’d like to point out that the most visible rappers, the popular ones you hear on the radio and on gossip blogs aren’t the only ones who do hip-hop culture.

There has been a wide variety of characters within hip-hop. A lot of them focus their careers on community change and causes, doing work for their communities and causes.

I guess that’s my excuse to bring up the music and works of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, the Coup, the Roots, Zion I, Prometheus Brown, Bambu, Kiwi...among others…

The category of hip-hop contains more than the rappers that are most visible, and it also contains many artists who have defined their careers on gaining a “maturity” by becoming involved in changing their communities.