by Herb T.
As a middle-aged emcee and proponent of Hip Hop culture, I often find myself trying to be objective as a fan, when listening to the views exhibited by the youth (and not-so- youthful) in today’s Hip Hop and R&B. Though censorship may indeed be one of the most malevolent forms of mainstream hegemony, one should be conscientious in how one disseminates one’s materials. In other words, the lifestyle that one lives by or claims to live by in one’s music, can and will be denounced by critics, viewed favorably fans, and be wholly dismissed by the unaffected alike.
In the 2007 article, Hip Hop is Now: An Evolving Youth Culture, Mr. Carl and Virgil Taylor state, “Throughout urban America, Hip Hop has become the standard that many young people live by.” On the other hand, one may also wonder if today’s Hip Hop is also the standard that countless youth (and the not-so-young) die by? Are the purveyors of the culture fully responsible for what is portrayed to the world? Or are we merely pawns of a cynical system, which continues to take advantage of poor, albeit talented, people who face generational issues and perpetuate those issues in an art form that has the capability to awaken and positively inspire?
Taylor and Taylor (2007) state that, “Once upon a time in America, young men and women held to a belief that no matter what their circumstance, there was a way to move up.” To borrow a slogan from Mr. Obama’s campaign, forward, for those in Hip Hop would be a better direction. As middle-aged emcees, the challenge for us is not our abilities. The challenge, is engaging and perhaps educating, those whose focus in on the priors, not the prize.