Hip-Hop: Young Fans Deserve More

Rapper 2 Chainz (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
Rapper 2 Chainz (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Hip-hop artist Homeboy Sandman writes at the Huffington Post that the genre's recycled topics are depriving today's kids of the thought-provoking themes that once helped shape his identity.

… Themes like sex and violence have always existed in hip hop, but as a child my first deep connection to the art form came in 1987, when I first heard DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince's "Parent's Just Don't Understand." Only seven years old, I couldn't relate to L.L.Cool J and Big Daddy Kane['s] harems of door knocker clad women, or Kool G Raps tales of shooting people in the belly just to watch them bleed. But when I found out that a famous rapper hated discount department store school shopping as much as I did, I was hooked. Children are bright shining balls of insecurity, craving validation at every turn. Here was a famous rapper, clearly deemed "cool" by societal standards, who shared something in common with me. I must be pretty cool too I thought. Good feeling.

Who knows what would have become of me had I grown up in an era where my idols, the preeminent examples for success from communities like mine, limited their content to the four or five themes that dominate today's hip hop landscape. Unable to identify with someone "cool" who was like me, I would have been left with no choice but to alter my behavior to fall in line with one of them. But instead I had options. With the way I looked at myself. And [the] way I looked at the world …

… On the morning of September 19th I tuned in to Hot 97 via the Internet from a hotel room in Birmingham, Alabama, for a random sampling of what people listening to the most famous hip hop station in the world are hearing today. The first rap song I heard was French Montana's "Pop That," an ode to clubbing, money, cars, drugs, and [jewelry] … I tuned back in at 10:42 and heard Busta Rhymes' "King Tut." It too was all about about money, alchohol, [jewelry], watches, cars, and sex. So was 2 Chainz's "No Lie," at 11:11 (with a bit more murder and violance sprinkled in), and DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win" at 11:21 …

English teachers in urban New York City schools are too concerned with getting students up to 6th grade reading level to teach Orwell's 1984, where culture is prophetically whittled down until entire languages consist of merely hundreds of words limiting [people's] abilities to think. Young people today get the majority of their knowledge today from the media they consume, and fans of hip hop just can't fathom the idea that … all of the uniformity might be part of a ploy carried out by gigantic [corporations] seeking to turn everyone into mindless consuming drones. Of course they can't. They've never heard Deltron 3030.


Read the rest of Homeboy Sandman's piece at the Huffington Post.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter