The evolution of hip hop has come a long way since its origins with DJ Kool Herc in New York. The world has witnessed an uprising movement of this particular culture and style of music touching and influencing the lives of people cross-globally. The most amusing fact might be that hip hop doesn’t discriminate. In today’s society you can even witness something as obscure as a blonde Aboriginal giant dancing around and rapping to the world about how fancy she is, all while firmly declaring that hip hop made her. You might even catch a dreaded androgynous, cross-dressing “rapper” (I use that term loosely) squealing out profanities in a melodious style that slightly resembles the sound of an innocent pig being constrained by barbed –wire.
Now that you have a clear picture of the media’s portrayal of mainstream hip hop in the year 2015, lets rewind to a much simpler time. A time when the focus of hip hop was about expression and freedom from oppression, rather than record sales and fashion faux-pas. A time when emcees were criticized for dropping knowledge rather than being the source influence for hate crimes. When being the minority was more important than oversaturating the majority. A time where we looked up to artists because they had rhythm and rhyme, not because they served time behind bars. When people understood the heavy importance that your words are your artillery and strike a much deeper blow than the barrel of your glock. At what point did we become so desensitized? When did we voluntarily allow the media and industry Nazis to take something eye-opening and almost spiritual and turn into another recycled tunnel of immoral distraction? Maybe it was when we began to indulge in it.
Television and radio waves are tainted with negativity and sprinkled with profanities. The responsibility ultimately lies with us, the consumers. We choose what continues to be infiltrated into the sound waves. Our indulgences are the stamps of approval the industry needs to keep the big guys in their penthouse condos and driving their foreign vehicles. Why is it we choose to support those selling us dreams rather than the ones risking their careers to provide us with knowledge? Are we inherently afraid of the truth? Or are we just systematically programmed to crave the opposite? Regardless of your answer, this is a call to arms for hip hop heads and music lovers alike. Think before you indulge. Understand that everything you choose to listen to has an effect on your subconscious. The next time you hear a song ask yourself, is this music or is it just another mindless distraction? Don’t be afraid to repost a song that evokes deep human emotion but is drowned out by night club twerk tunes.
Despite what you are being force-fed to listen to, there are still artists and lovers of music who use their craft to spread positivity and raise awareness. Although some may consider them a ‘dying breed’ of some sort, they do still exist and are clamoring to not just be heard, but acknowledged. These artists undeniably do it for the craft, not for the fame.
With all this being said, I would like to introduce you to a few of those gems. Over the next few weeks I will be focusing on featuring artists that do just that. Artists who are so focused on their craft that there is no room for selling out. The ones who make music to inspire and uplift, including InVision Multimedia’s very own J. Kelly. If you or someone you know is an up and coming hip hop artist that you would like to see recognized for staying true to their craft, please feel free to submit names and links to their most recent work.