Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What’s Wrong with Hip Hop?


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 

I'm a huge fan of hip hop music. In fact, I didn't even start to like music until hip hop came along. I will continue to be a fan of hip hop music, but as a black scholar, I feel that part of my job is to ask questions that we may need to answer as a society.
The question for today is, "What's wrong with hip hop music?" Perhaps the question I've asked is presumptuous, since many of us don't see a problem at all. I've sat in the car for hours with my teenage daughters, listening to one song after another, each of them returning to basically the same themes: Money, sex, weapons or drugs.
One thing that must be made clear is that there's a difference between hip hop music as an art form vs. the commercialized version of hip hop that we hear on the radio. The difference is like comparing authentic Italian pizza to what you get from Dominoes. When something works well in the black community, corporate America commercializes and redistributes it, thus taking over that which once belonged to us. The dearth of black owned companies in the music industry only makes the problem worse, since we end up being marketed a product that doesn't reflect the interests of our community. The final result is that our kids are being brainwashed with repetitive mantras of self-destruction, where the most vocally-talented boot legs are boosted to iconic and influential status. Lil Wayne, do you hear me?



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