Why I Care About Hip-Hop

Rapper Saigon (Jason Kempin/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
Rapper Saigon (Jason Kempin/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Hip-hop artist Saigon, writing at the Huffington Post, reflects on how he fell in love with the genre and why he wants more from it.

My earliest memories of hip hop, I think of a time when everything I heard in a rap song, I could look out my window and actually visualize the lyrics so clearly. Whether it was Melle Mell rapping about 'broken glass everywhere' in his song "The Message" or hearing emcees rhyming about the graffiti stricken trains and buildings that filled the streets of New York City. Hip hop was a reflection of the impoverished neighborhoods we were being raised in and we loved it. We didn't realize it at the time, but we actually needed it …

Listening to today's music, I hear a variety of songs with the content that sounds like an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Songs with titles like "Money To Blow," Rich Forever etc, you wouldn't begin to fathom that we're in some of the worse economic times. Songs that speak of buying Bugatti's and Bentley's like they were Honda's and Mazda's. If I'm correct, a Bugatti retails at over a million dollars and a new Bentley cost roughly around $300,000. I know there is a group of artists who have reached the level where they can obtain this caliber of vehicles but it seems this has become the norm in hip hop music. In 1996, Nas rapped on his hit record If I Ruled The World, "If I ruled the world and everything in it, sky's the limit, I'd push a Q45 infint … An Infiniti Q45 retailed at about 45k at the time and that was major for even the biggest rapper in the game at the time.

I wonder when and how did the art form stop reflecting the realities of the place where it was born? It's become the opposite of what is taking place in its birthplace. We are in some of the worst economic times in modern history but you wouldn't believe this if you listened to a rap song. There is a disconnect with hip hop and the community where it was started, but it has become somewhat of a detriment.

Read Saigon's entire 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.

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