As I’ve shared before, I was introduced to the street element as a young teen. This affected some of my choices, and I found myself in some not-so-positive circumstances. And while I’ve been able to completely turn my life around, there are still many youth out there facing the same circumstances. So it was important that I use the 2 Chainz influence to change some lives and shine light on the issues.
TR: Rather than hip-hop just being represented by “gangsta rap” or money triumphalism, we are beginning to hear more stories of black poverty and oppression from artists like Kendrick Lamar and Slaughterhouse. But hip-hop that unequivocally calls for fighting for social justice is still largely underground, like Immortal Technique, or “old skool,” like Public Enemy and Dead Prez. What are your thoughts about the different trends in hip-hop and how it might evolve lyrically?
2C: I see hip-hop growing artistically. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the role music has played in black people’s history, period. From slavery through today, there’s a deep connection. It was a form of communication.
But at the same time, if hip-hop is really an art form, then why shouldn’t there be different types, different reflections? There are fans for all of it. My lyrics may not necessarily be for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t represent a time and place in some people’s lives.
TR: People complain about how women are treated in hip-hop as bitches and hos. Do you think the misogyny will ever end, and why is it such a key part of the music?
2C: Elton John had a song called “The Bitch Is Back,” the Rolling Stones were misogynistic at times. But the focus is on hip-hop? Music can sometimes be offensive. Musicians are always going to do or say something people don’t think is correct.
I’m not ignoring the fact that young people hear these lyrics. But it’s important that parents raise their children. Period. Don’t just put them in front of the television and let society raise them.
I have two daughters, so of course I’m concerned about what they’ll listen to. But I’m also their parent. I don’t play just anything around my daughter. We monitor what she hears. It’s up to parents to teach their children.
Leila McDowell is a journalist and former broadcast reporter. She also serves as managing director for communications at the Advancement Project.