Hip Hop’s evolution has remained endless. But as it progressed, its dominance exceeded the walls of Black and Latino communities and became a form of influence among suburban areas, beginning the era of DJ’s and emcees of all cultures gracing the mic.
Hip Hop became a lifestyle, rhythm, lyricism and CULTURE. Hip Hop was a way for Blacks/Latinos to have a voice in a world where our voices weren’t really respected. So you could say that Hip Hop started as a political movement.
Today we have a mix of conscious and modern Hip Hop styles. The response to both differs. One is constantly laced with criticism for its cursive, violent and “street” inspired content while the other is deemed ‘kid safe’; however, I’ve noticed a pattern on what color delivers that particular content. Not everyone can relate to the streets, yes, but not everyone can relate to thrift shopping either, yet one is presented over the other to your regular Black/Latino emcee versus your “white” emcee as a “top” hit. And the fruits of their labour differ as well, in terms of nominations and awards in categories like album of the year, best rap album, etc. (2014 Macklemore Grammy win.)
This may just explain why when white emcees emerge, they’re met with resistance and/or a history lesson, (S/O Q-tip). Has our already delicate history fractured our ability to detach ourselves from the long repeated ‘them vs. us’ mentality? Or are we smart enough to know that history always repeats itself. Why do all of our top singles in Hip Hop revolve around violence/aggression, sex, or drugs compared to those of artists like Macklemore whose singles reflect good charity and bubbles? (Not exactly but you get the point!)
Does music’s corporate America have a fascination with drawing negative stigmas to one particular race over the other when marketing Hip Hop? And if so, why?
A rough suspicion of mine is that Black/Latino artists can’t be pitched to the ‘white’ populous as well as white artists can and the last thing the parents of any white young teenager wants to hear is about guns being sprayed and taking licks. It’s no wonder why artists like Marilyn Manson, and/or Eminem are deemed so controversial because their dark message and aggressive tone is connecting directly with the sons and daughters of the bodies that form corporate America in Hip Hop/music.
According to Radio+Television Business Report, close to 60 per cent of the Hip Hop listening demographic is white/Caucasian and over the age of 18. So, you can understand why Eminem’s anti-gay, violent, and/or curse filled lyrics caused the legendary ‘rap God’ some grief. But, why is similar content acceptable when it leaves the lips of our Black/Latino MC’s and enters the homes of Black/Latino children? How does one emcee get overlooked discussing similar themes of violence, aggression, sex and/or drugs while the other gets dragged and damn near crucified?
Eminem highlighted the hypocrisy of all of this in his track “White America” back in 2002. Asides from Eminem, the major contrast between white and black emcee’s is noticeable amongst Hip Hop’s golden boy Macklemore himself. In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stones magazine.
So correct me if I’m wrong but when a ‘white’ rapper is speaking to a white audience regarding violence, aggression, drugs or sex his lyrics get supervised and met with resistance due to the “negative” content it produces? Is the problem the content, the same content that has been coming out of Blacks/Latino emcees since the late 80’s? Or how quickly it began sinking into the living rooms of corporate families and their children?
We have allowed a culture that began as a freedom of expression become watered down, for one, and allowed negative stereotypes to be attached towards Blacks/Latino emcees, while saving the positive, fun and “profitable” images of thrift shopping, and “Fancy” perspectives for white emcees. We’re constantly being used by various sectors of entertainment to reinforce stereotypes and we don’t even so much as move a finger to have an open discussion about it because it’s what “sales”. When did our integrity and pride succumb to such a cheap price tag?
In my opinion, this triggers the level of acceptance and/or resistance among the Hip Hop community towards “white” emcees. Our cultures have been constantly stolen, duplicated and then monetized by the “white” populous, and constantly goes without rightful recognition. Beginning with the Blues, Jazz, and up until today with Hip Hop.
We aren’t telling “whites” they aren’t welcome into the culture, we’re telling them to start demanding a change to their friends up top since they’re much closer to their reach than we are. We’re saying we notice the blatant inequality in record sales, award wins, radio hits/spins and etc. The difference in what’s pitched as a top hit to us versus them and the consequences that follow, if and when, it is challenged. Boy, does MONEY ever talk.
But you see, what corporate America doesn’t see is that Hip Hop is similar to the motion of the ocean. Its waves are endless and infinite – always there. Now its current is what has a tendency to change overtime. And it’s about time that the corporate side of things begin recognizing and respecting that although there are a few “white” emcees who have earned their part in that endless wave, there are others that need to be reminded that they’re only part of this oceans temporary and PASSING current. You feel me?