Hip Hop in the New Year

Myesha Smith, The Black Bear – Music is moving the nation one artist at a time. With the time changing it is easy for the art of music to do the same. Many say “hip hop is dead”, and long gone. Others may believe it just has been born again.

Several rappers have made comments and concerns regarding the art in rap music and being a true lyricist. With musicians making millions of dollars, what can decipher good music for appropriate hip hop standards?

J. Cole at Gillioz Theater in Springfield, Mo on Forrest Hill Drive Tour Photo Credit Khadijah Forrest

J. Cole at Gillioz Theater in Springfield, Mo on Forest Hill Drive Tour
Photo Credit Khadijah Forrest

Rapper J Cole, 2014 “Forest Hill Drive” album has topped Billboard 200 chart with a total of 353,538 in the first week and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

His music compares to socially conscious artist like Common, Nas, and Wale. Wale released “The Album about Nothing” this year with some tracks about prejudice and criticism from outsiders looking in.

Although these rappers commonly address the issues that black people face and they also reveal internal flaws within black people.

“Who holds the crown?” This quote is used frequently in hip hop and pop culture sounds.

Messages have been repeated in this genre that Black people are their own Kings and Queens.

“For some strange reason black death is so accepted, but if those same artist switched things and spoke about empowerment for one another…..oppressors would be stripped of everything because it doesn’t fit the power/economic structures set by United States” said Kelvin Jones, former MSU student.

Grammy Awards nominate pop culture and white rappers for the best hip hop album, best new artist and video of the year to protect their ratings each year.

Most people have asked the question, “How can a nomination be made, when there are no educated or relating judges about the art of black music?”

Jay Z boycotts the Grammys almost each year, due to the lack of exposure for rappers and hip hop music in general.

Kid n’ Play and Salt-n-Pepa boycotted the Grammys in 1989 when DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince, Will Smith, won the first hip-hop act and the category was not televised. Diddy and other rappers interviewed by MTV news notice change with the award show.

“They recognized, and now it’s up to us to make sure we’re seen in a proper light at the Grammys,” Diddy told MTV news in response to Jay Z’s boycotts in the past years.

Some believe that the hip hop music has been altered and is strictly about money, women, partying or “thuggish lifestyles”. This kind of hip hop is listened in clubs and party atmospheres.

“I honestly feel like hip hop in this era is not the same as hip hop in the 70s-90s, artist really went through the struggles that were in the songs. Their listeners live those lives. I embrace our hip hop culture by really looking into real hip hop artists, and listen to those I can relate to,” MSU freshman Dominic Goldman said.

The culture of hip hop has elevated into a lifestyle from the way African Americans dress, entertain, and interact with one another. This particular lifestyle can be put into a stereotypical light and misunderstood by other ethnicities.

Mainstream media has accepted more of the hip hop genres and culture certain in television productions, radio stations and news coverage.

However, some frames of black communities are stereotypical and discriminative to the beliefs of minorities.

“Hip hop has gone from “Fight the Power” to, no real substance or positive messages,” Ryan Johnson, MSU alumni and Speak Up coordinator said. “We currently have TV shows that are scripted with these images of black people being loud, obnoxious and ratchet in the name of hip hop.”

Media specialist and MSU professor Deborah Larson taught a lesson titled “James Potter’s Media Literacy Theory” for her MED 220 course on stereotypical portrayals and different races, and genders in television productions.

Larson has taught that stereotypes offer shortcuts for audiences to understand and further engage in entertaining stories that are relating. She explains that stereotypes can be detrimental because they create false expectations and social assumptions reflecting on how society works and who citizens are as people.

The topic of African Americans during this lesson explains their roles in sitcoms and dramas in today’s entertainment. Blacks are mostly seen in sitcoms and typical discrimination, poverty and crime doesn’t exist in those TV genres. Dramas are rare for blacks to lead in and consistently show that opportunities abound and hard work = economic comfort.

“We know little about the AA characters in predominately white shows. Most interaction occurs in the work place, if not shown in middle/upper class they are generally shown as social undesirables rather than honorable working people,” Larson wrote in her “Entertainment Media: Chapter 11 Media Literacy” notes.

Nina Simone once said, “It’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live.” If hip hop is to be a reflection of African-American culture, how have artists represented the community in recent years?

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