Congress wants to talk about Hip-Hop; well so do I…

“I said a hip hop, Hippie to the hippie, The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it To the bang bang boogie, say, up jump the boogie, To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.” Bar none, the most famous rap lyric of all time. From hip-hop heads to novices, the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers Delight still holds the crown as the most renowned rap song, unparalleled. Hip-hop started as a voice of the streets; a voice of frustration coming from the inner city. Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s The Message served as “news from the ghetto” to show America what was really going on in our neighborhoods. We then entered the world of Paul Revere and My Addidas. From the Beastie Boys to Run-DMC; hip-hop was beginning to make a world wide impact. With the early nineties came a new style of hip-hop; gangster rap. Bursting on the scene was a group of angry black males that were ready to voice their fury through music. NWA (N***** with attitudes) was able to showcase their rage and aggravation with a style not seen before. Spewing curse words with lyrics like F*** the police; NWA made such an impression on American society that former Vice President Dan Quayle attempted to have their records pulled from shelves and their concerts cancelled. As the nineties progressed; so did hip-hop. The genre of rap music and the culture of hip-hop became so massive that it eventually grew into a multi-billion dollar industry. But with all of its popularity hip-hop has never been able to shake negativity. Hip-hop has attempted to portray itself as an art form that is simply a voice of the African-American community. Unfortunately, America is not buying what they are selling. So how do we begin to convince America that what we have to say constitutes a valid argument? By changing our approach.

Kanye West’s latest release, Graduation, was skillfully crafted as an album full of anthems with a positive message. However, Kanye has always been portrayed as a positive hip-hop artist. He is the latest example of how rap music can make an impact without being viewed as desecrating to American society. As mentioned earlier; the song The Message was one of the first examples of how hip-hop can serve as a positive stimulate to enact social change within American society. Unfortunately, rappers can become victims of the violence that is depicted in their music. When Boogie Down Productions DJ Scott La Rock was gunned down because of gang violence; KRS-One helped to organize an all-star ensemble of rappers to construct the song Self Destruction. The set featured Public Enemy, MC Lyte, Just Ice, Stetasonic, KRS-One and Daddy-O. Self Destruction had the focus of helping to end gang violence. The song’s message was felt heavily throughout hip-hop. It was able to express a meaning of unity and optimism while depicting the negative images connected with inner city violence. This approach was one of success and one of warning. The song gave caution that if this type of behavior does not cease; our society is deemed for failure. It was also able to show that the hip-hop culture is able to come together for the common good of a just cause.

Rappers in today’s hip-hop culture are controlled by capital. We cannot blame all rappers for their lyrical content as most are under contractual obligations through their record companies. Some rappers are bound by their agreements to release 2 – 3 songs extolling their love for jewelry and admiration for women. If Congress wants to truly have a discussion on the issue of lyrics within hip-hop; it is only fair to invite the record companies to the conversation as well. Major music labels such as Interscope and Universal records make billions of dollars off these types of records. One of the most popular rap records of all time entitled Bling Bling was created strictly to flaunt rappers love of jewelry. Some rappers spend upwards of $500,000 on rings, watches, necklaces and diamonds in their teeth. This type of music does not resonate well with most parents as it sends the wrong message to kids. Instead of placing a value on matters that will instill a sense of self worth in children; the music is only meant to attract children and teenagers to purchase the record

Rappers also have to take on a more responsible role in this battle. Those that have achieved a status of affluence through rap music have a responsibility to give back to the culture they took so much away from. Starting a foundation or chartable organization is not enough to satisfy the appetite for change within the hip-hop community. Rappers with riches must help promote artist that want to change the status quo and challenge record labels that continue to release negative music.

While my opinion is strictly that of a person on the outside looking into a very complex situation; it’s important that we question what we deem as un-fit or un-worthy. While I am a hip-hop head to the fullest degree; I do not like the direction in which my culture is headed. That culture being of course… hip-hop.


By: Jason Henry

About the Author:

Jason Henry started writing a few years ago with the angle of \”sparking positive debate through writing.\” To enhance his writing skills and share his writing with the world, he started his own newsletter entitled \”The Henry Project.\” A by product of the newsletter is his blog with the same name. Mr. Henry continues to provide his opinion on a number of issues facing America today. You can check out his blog at

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Posted in Hip Hop by: Hip Hop Diva

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