Thursday, February 17, 2005
ON THE 1S AND 2S: KEEPING MY PIMP HAND STRONG
As a hip-hop fan (who happens to be a conservative), I have always been, frankly, embarassed by other conservatives who try to "speak" about rap music, its history, impact or signifigance as an art form. It seems this disease has seeped into those of the liberal variety too.
I get it that many folk in middle America (and Canada) don't understand the culture of hip-hop. Many ignored it while it was in its infancy, dismissing it as a fad. They did, however absorb stupid, narrow stereotypes (see above) of what they think hip-hop is: big gold chain wearing, ebonics-speaking thugs standing in a b-boy stance.
Until rap music overtook country music as the #1 seller of records as a genre. Numerous artists, including Snoop Dogg, Outkast, Jay-Z , Nelly, Tupac and yes even Eminem have sold tens of millions of records. And everyone is buying these records--black, white, red state, blue state--you name it; hip-hop is everywhere.
Now, I don't claim to be anything I'm not: I'm a white dude from Toronto, Canada. Not exactly "ghetto fabulous". I'm not a gangster or a thug. I'm a corporate shill. But I have listened to hip-hop for over 15 years, so I'd like to think I know what I'm talking about.
Middle America/Canada still are largely ignorant about the culture of hip-hop and the art (yes, art) of rapping. Case in point: I probably would never had noticed his blog, but Gotham Image posted a comment on my "Word of the Day" post. Curious, I went to his blog and found his political style "rap":
Yo! Yo! Yo! - Gangsta-zales is in the house!
*Yo! Yo! Yo! - Gangsta-zales is in the heeeeeooooooouse!
Who dat be?
You Da MC ! You Tell Me!
He Be Gonzales, Da Original A.G. At Da D.O.J.!
What You Say?
You Heard Me, He Da Original A.G. AT Da D.O.J.!
Check It Ho!
Listen A.G. - We Be Over To You....
Thank You MC, Been Poping Some Chill -At Da Dubya Grill
Mamma Christen'd Me Alberto
Made My Name At Gitmo
Me Memos Stoke Fear
More Than Any Ashcroft Seer!
Who Dat Be?
Suckah, listen to me, I be Da Original A.G. at Da D.O.J
Check It Ho's!
Check It Ho's!
Looks like we might have found the next Eminem.
Political satire aside, this is a great example of what mainstream folk think rap is. The most ironic part is that this is coming from someone (I'll call him MC Batman) who seems to be a liberal.
Hey--Blue states! I'll fill you in on a little secret. Hip-hop could be a powerful tool for you. Most rap, even gangsta rap, focus on the issues liberals "claim" as "their issues": poverty, police brutality, social commentary, crime, systemic racism, uncaring government, etc.
Here's one example, "It All Falls Down" by Grammy-winner Kanye West:
Man I promise, I'm so self conscious
That's why you always see me with at least one of my watches
Rollies and Pasha's done drove me crazy
I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that versach-y!
Then I spent 400 bucks on this
Just to be like "ni**a you ain't up on this"!
And I can't even go to the grocery store
Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team
It seems we living the american dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings
We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a'stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a ni**a in a coop
Pretty clever, actually. Not exactly "Check It, Ho's", but hey, Kanye's only done 1 album.
Many rap artists and fans see hip-hop as a direct reflection of their lives and circumstance. They speak in "slang" because that is the language of the streets. Chuck D of the legendary group Public enemy called rap "the black CNN". Words like "dun", "shorty", etc are part of the urban vernacular. They speak about violence, gangs, etc, because that's what they see on a regular basis. To mock that form of expression, I would suggest, is tantamount to mocking the current less-than-positive circumstances of urban youth.
Not very liberal.
Most people agree that the best satirists are the ones who understand, absorb and analyze their subject matter (see: The Daily Show, Dennis Miller, etc). I would suggest that anyone who wants to discuss/make fun of/utilize rap do their homework first.
Check that, beyatch!
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