Is Today’s Hip-Hop Stupid?
“You must learn!”—KRS One
If you turn on MTV and BET and watch what’s left of today’s music videos, you’ll see a bunch of songs dedicated to a whole lot of nothing. Not to say it’s all bad, but there’s not much music that’s saying anything at all. You have Soulja Boy talking about his “Pretty Boy Swag,” Dorrough saying to “Get Big” and Waka Flocka Flame talking about…well I’m not too sure. (“Bow Bow Bow Bow?”) Even the so-called “deep” rappers aren’t saying much. Although Kanye West‘s “Power” is a dope lyrical exercise and artistic expression, it lacks the informational impact of Public Enemy and KRS One.
So what exactly has happened to “Edutainment?”
Maybe we just got to smart and didn’t need anymore education. I sincerely doubt it, but what other explanation can you have for the tremendous void in mainstream hip-hop with regards to anything that provides food for thought? Although emcees like Immortal Technique and dead prez are always providing endless supplies of knowledge over beats, they aren’t in the mainstream. It’s not like it was back in the late 80′s and early 90′s.
As a young man, what I didn’t get in school I got in hip-hop. If it wasn’t for BDP and Public Enemy, I wouldn’t have been tipped off to Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X before I was a teenager. The fact that those artists were rapping about the Black Panthers and Mumia Abu-Jamal is the very reason why I picked up books at a young age and spearheaded numerous youth groups. I still look at Ras Kass‘ “Nature of the Threat” as the pinnacle of traveling down the information highway with a soundtrack. Today, you cannot sniff a reference to Nat Turner in today’s music.
But who is to blame for this? Could it be the “powers that be” deciding that we should dumb down our music to double their dollars? Could it be this generation of hip-hop kids are simply not motivated to learn the history of the culture? It’s truly tough to figure out the reasoning behind this. There was a smattering of artists who sprinkled tidbits of knowledge throughout their music a decade ago. Cee Lo Green would talk about liberation, Mos Def discussed the world water crisis and Common made a song for Assata Shakur. But today they’ve moved their artistic expression to new levels. Mos Def and Common are busy with Hollywood and Cee Lo has become more than just an emcee with a big belly.
It appears the new generation of rappers were raised on more Diddy than Chuck D. To me, it’s the best possible explanation for the lack of emcees dropping jewels and opting, instead, for rhymes about fresh clothes and chicks.
I don’t have the answers, but I do have the question that could certainly use some feedback.
Is today’s hip-hop “stupid?”
What do you think?