Hip Hop at the Crossroads

XM Satellite Radio ran a special last night called Hip Hop at the Crossroads: A Town Hall Meeting. The show had very notable members of the hip hop community who all spoke frankly about the state of hip hop culture. It was an illuminating program.

I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open and discuss the impact that the music and culture have on society as a whole. It seems that those of us in the hip hop community are always on the defensive. Hip hop is always under attack from people who don’t understand the culture and all the positive things that it has to offer.

I have written extensively about the culture and have added labels so that it will be easier to find the themed entries I have made. I hope that by keeping the lines of communication open that we will be able to solve the problems inherent in the culture. Many of these problems extend well beyond hip hop.

The artist reflects the issues and times of his day, and vice versa. We have a problem in society with harmful words and images. I think that it is our moral responsibility to do something about it. We have a problem with ignorance, violence, sexism, racism, poverty, and mysognism. These are not issues related to rap music. We can not blame hip hop culture for any of these problems.

Part of the problem is that kids connect with this music more so than they do with their parents of their teachers. Chuck D of Public Enemy had a great comment in the 80s. He said that Hip hop was the black CNN. So kids get information from hip hop. They are influenced by lyrics and the lives of the artists they look up to. We reflect these problems of society in our music and some artists will perpetrate the problems further, partly because it sells records.

I think we need to open up the lines of communication. The elders of hip hop need to educate the new up and comers in the industry. We need to educate our kids about lyrics and artists. We need to mentor new artists and allow them a time to evolve and grow. We need to be responsible in all aspects of our culture.

Hip hop is a great art form with a lot of power. MCs have a voice that young kids listen to. Record labels have a responsibility. We as listeners, parents, teachers, etc have a responsibility as well. We need to recognize this power and use it responsibly.