divaFeature: Can Hip-Hop Bring About World Peace?
I was sad to see rapper Common put down by major news outlets (Fox News) for celebrating American poetry and prose at the White House. Alaskan conservative Sarah Palin even went as far as to make a snarky comment through her Twitter account and link it to a conservative blog article criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama for inviting the Chi-town rapper in the first place. Their justification for their objection is “A Letter to the Law,” a song Common wrote protesting the war in Iraq. In the song, Common says the following:
“Burn a Bush cos’ for peace he no push no button/ Killing over oil and grease/ no weapons of destruction”.
Dear Conservatives, do you think Common wanted to actually burn Former President George Bush? How many times have writers, artists, and activists used metaphors to drive a point home? Pardon my French, but this is bull shit. If you’re going to criticize someone else’s actions, at least be consistent. How many times have artists added controversial social commentaries to their music? Why is Common being singled out?
I feel like a mother trying to protect her bullied child. How much longer will my precious hip-hop be the target for people who choose not to understand it and appreciate it for what it’s done? It frustrates me to see this repetitive behavior, but then I remember that we live in a negative society. When I was in college, I took a year- long advertising class. While doing background market research, I discovered that people are more likely to voice their negative experiences and opinions while keeping the positive ones to themselves. How true is this when it comes to hip-hop and those who oppose it? Even I, a hip-hop lover, write this article in response to negativity.
Since its emergence in the late 70’s, hip hop has been attacked from all directions. And when I say all directions, I mean it. Hip hop is a culture made up of many parts: break dancing, deejaying, graffiti, and rapping; all forms of art criminalized. Sure, some rappers say stupid things and some artists trespass, but do all hip hop participants fit into that group? Certainly not. In fact, hip-hop has done more for the world than most cultural forms. If the some of us put our ignorance aside and recognize its potential, hip-hop could very well create world peace. Far -fetched you may think, but not impossible. In fact, the word impossible spells “I’m Possible,” so let me continue.
Think of how many people from different countries, races, cultures have been connected by the culture. One example that sticks in my head is the conclusion of Tupac: Resurrection. Tupac guaranteed that he would spark the mind that would ultimately change the world…and judging by his wide spectrum of fans, that is definitely a possibility.
I can find hip-hop’s power in my own home. My mother is a product of the “baby boom” generation. She grew up listening to artists like The Beatles, Alice Cooper and Jimmy Hendrix. She also happens to be one of the biggest New York Yankees fans on the planet. When the Yanks were on the verge of winning their twenty-something championship, Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” was quickly climbing the Billboard charts and becoming the unofficial theme song for the team. All it took was my mother hearing the line “Catch me at the X with OG at a Yankee game/ Shit, I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can/You should know I bleed blue/But I ain’t a Crip though” before she had the song downloading in her ITunes and onto her I-Pod. My mother, who grew up before hip-hop was even born, now has an appreciation for it. “Empire State of Mind” not only united an entire city…but excited people nationwide. When I hear that song in the club in Beantown, people still go crazy. Not because it’s about New York City. It’s the meaning behind it; having pride in where you come from and where you could be in the future. That’s something that we can all relate to, whether our skin is black, white, or yellow.
Another feat of hip-hop; bringing the dead to life. I don’t mean this in the literal sense. One of hip-hops most unique features is its ability to sample music from the past. In fact, some of hip-hop’s greatest songs have come from samples. Sugar Hill Gang sampled disco group Chic’s “Good Times” for “Rapper’s Delight.” The legendary Run D.M.C sampled and collaborated with rock band Aerosmith for “Walk this Way.” Remember when Eminem brought out the openly gay Elton John at the Grammy’s? What other genre of music was able to bring in an “outsider” and create such a profound impact? Name another culture that is able to create such a diverse and wide web of connections. Hip-hop ain’t just for the gangstas. Its arms are wide open for everyone and anyone. So leave my baby alone!
Do YOU think Hip-Hop can bring about world peace?