I’m not the type to just dive into conspiracy theories. Seems nowadays, that’s all that people want to believe. If it’s not the government rising up to overtake their citizens one law at a time in order to enslave them, it’s every celebrity out there being part of the Illuminati and tossing symbols all over the place in videos and music. People can question a lot that goes around them without proof but once you see a specific pattern, you have to wonder if something is behind it; driving the masses to follow like blind rodents dancing to the pied piper’s tune.
That brings me to today’s
Hip-Hop, er…rap artists…er,…today’s popular and signed rappers. I’ve worked around musicians, rappers, and industry people for more than a decade on and off and being a rap artist myself, I know the hard work that goes into creating a rhyme, developing a style, performing a show, and making it all work on a release you hope the listening audience will enjoy. I’m also old school where a musician had to prove themselves by standing out from his/her peers with a skill set that raised the bar educating and entertaining a crowd. That was hip-hop. Either you dropped a crazy verse with a wild style or you battled someone else for the crown but the metaphors, similes, rhyme style, voice fluctuations, and especially your lyrics defined who you were as a true “artist”. You mastered your craft and raised the bar. If someone with influence discovered your talent, they would represent you and back your efforts with their power. Today, it’s not like that…I believe there’s a conspiracy.
Black music had once been a powerful tool. From the days of slaves, there was a message in the music such as “Wade in the Water” telling runaways how to escape to freedom. You have Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Bob Marley talking of social ills from their environments with “What’s Going On”, “In The City”, and “Get Up, Stand Up” respectively. These were meaningful songs that raised people up and lifted their spirits. There’s a reason these songs have reached legendary status along with the artists that created them. Let’s move to Hip-Hop for now. You had artists that were controversial yet still weaved social messages in their music. Public Enemy had “Fight the Power”. Ice-T had “Lethal Weapon”. Paris had “Break The Grip of Shame”. X-Clan had “Heed the Words of the Brother”. Geto Boys had “City Under Seige”. Boogie Down Productions had “Love’s Gonna Get Ya”. Hell, the entire East Coast had “Self-Destruction” and the entire West Coast had “We’re All In The Same Gang”. Positivity was mixed into the message so you weren’t left with a sense of dread or misunderstanding about what’s going on in other areas of the country. It was alllll good!
Fast-Forward to today: 2013 and beyond.. it’s been like this for a while: a consistent downfall of quality and a message of lack of self-worth, greed, narcissism, disrespect, and all done in some of the most elementary ways of the English language. These are today’s signed rappers: the slow downfall of Black people. I believe this conspiracy to be true and there’s now enough proof to back it up. Sure, people may say “But you have a Black President. Obviously things for Black people aren’t THAT bad.” I’ve never said racism had disappeared nor have I said we’re blind to what’s going on. Barack Obama’s election and re-election has given more hope to Blacks than a lot of other social programs have in this country. That glimmer gives someone a possibility to become more than they are when they look in the mirror. That skin color isn’t necessarily a prison while living in America. But I believe some would still like to remind you of who you are at all times. And music is a great way to unite, or in this case, divide a people. Let me explain some more:
In the 90′s while rappers like King Sun rapped “Be Black” and Spike Lee was about to drop Malcolm X, Blacks wore kente cloth-laced jackets, kufi hats like Salt-N-Pepa, beads like Brother J and Isis, and “X” hats as well as shirts with slogans “Black To the Future” or “Black Bart Simpson”. Remember that? It was reminiscent to the days of James Brown singing “I’m Proud to be Black” and people singing along with him with pride. White rappers even joined in and seemed to enjoy the culture such as 3rd Bass and Snow. We had shows like “Martin”, “Roc”, “Living Single” and “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” that usually had some sort of message in it even over the comedic parts. But in the late 90′s and 2000′s something happened…Black Pride went down as music quality went down. 2Pac and Biggie died and the ones reaching for the helm in either coasts didn’t do anything once they reached that top. Nas and Jay-Z fought for the title with Jay-Z winning out. Nas continued to put out positive tunes and stay true to his format and craft. Jay-Z saw money in singles projecting his wealth, fortune, machismo, and drug selling until he was almost unrecognizable as he is today as a so called “Nigga in Paris”. The West never won out much with rappers such as The Game pretty much trying to dis his way back into the public’s eye instead of relying on his craft.
So, no resurgence of beads, kufis, Black pride shirts have come back in 20+ years. The movement is dead. And Why? Today, the way a rapper wants national exposure, he/she has to be discovered. Black people are still tuning into the latest on the radio but their spirit has died along with the quality of music. The heads of music industries have now total control of what you will do in the future by controlling your brand of music and the rappers who create them. No more Public Enemies, Paris’s or X-Clans. Dead Prez made a mark but MTV killed that noise quickly because they didn’t like the message told. Hell, even MTV’s darling, Eminem, caught flack for his genuinely appropriate song, “White America”. Seems as if the Music Industry does not want a knowledgeable Black community so they offer $1 – 3 million dollar deals to some of the lowest denominators in the rap communities: people who can’t speak properly, can’t form coherent sentences, have little to zero artistic ability, and absolutely no pride in either themselves or Black people in general.
Chief Keef is a new rapper from Chicago who has a song called “I Don’t Like”. If you’ve seen the video, Chief Keef utters things he doesn’t like, most notably “snitches” while shaking his dreads, hanging with a bunch of other dudes, smoking, and saying absolutely NOTHING of educational value. Now, I’m not talking about having to learn all the time, but you should get something out of a song you listen to whether it’s a hot verse, dope lyrics, a message, great mic presence, crowd controller…something! No. Chief Keef got signed because he represents the most ignorant stereotype of a Black person. If you shove this in the face of the listening community (Black people), you’ll eventually control them if you give them nothing else to listen to. So, they sign others who they know won’t put out anything but horrible lyrics over hype tracks. They control Black people this way.
Waka Flocka Flame can barely speak English on the mic. Add in Gucci Mane who like Waka, tattooed himself silly all over his body, but went a step further by permanently marking an ice cream cone on his cheek. Offering his public nothing but flashy gold, immature lyrics, and mumbling, Black people go out in droves and support him instead of demanding something better to listen to. Nicki Minaj is doing well for herself but she sucks as a rapper. Making faces, changing your voice, and pretending you’re 12 different people doesn’t making you a talented individual. Tricking the public into believing you’re talented makes you a talented marketer. Like Chief Keef, Soulja Boy was signed when he was around 17 years old. Although that’s a young age for someone to be getting millions of dollars, you’d think these execs would see something worth backing as their investment ages: talent. No. Soulja Boy has zero talent and never did. When your song is called “Skinny Niggaz Runnin’ Shit” and you’re in the video shirtless with your tatted up bird-chest with your fellow wack dude flashing cash repeating the chorus as if it’s talent driving you, you’re delusional. But the execs are shoving this down your throat and you’re following. To imagine, Rakim wrote “Paid In Full” when he was 17 years old. At 17-years old, he influenced an entire nation of future (and some current) rappers to increase their awareness and skills in hip-hop. What do you get out of Soulja Boy or Chief Keef?
The latest act to be shoved in your face is Trinidad James. Although I’m happy for him since he seems like a nice-enough guy, he is talentless hack and offers nothing to the Black community except more ignorance, horrible lyrics, and self-degradation for a dollar. If you haven’t seen “All Gold Everything”, you’ll see what I mean. And you consider the man got signed about 6 months after first starting to rap, you start to understand that the record companies are paying these buffoons money to help enslave you even more. The uprising of Blacks had to be put to a stop after P.E (“By The Time I Get To Arizona”), Queen Latifah (“Ladies First”), or Stetsasonic (“A.F.R.I.C.A.”) and others. The election of Barack Obama has put their mission into high gear. You won’t see talented Hip-Hop artists get signed to major labels based on their talents especially if those talents show a pride in who they are as a people and how to improve our standing in the U.S.A. No…you’ll be forced to look at your new mirror image every time you watch B.E.T. and see a Rick Ross video or reality show starring another Black family so far removed from the portrayal of the Huxtables, it’ll seem surreal.
Let’s see how this all continues. Either someone will stop standing for it and revolt or we’ll forever be begging for the next booty-shaking video our sister or cousin puts on YouTube with their child walking by as your next rap superstar mutters his Sesame Street lyrics to your future high-school drop-out self. It’s your choice. The industry already made theirs. They’re still pied-piping.