Yesterday evening I went to a debate at The Barbican. The debate was “Hip Hop on Trial: Hip hop doesn’t enhance society, it degrades it.” I went into this debate against the motion, and very excited at the list of individuals who would be on the panel and giving evidence for and against this motion. Link here for the list of speakers, quite stellar in my opinion.
What stood out as the main point to me was that mainstream hip hop is ruining what hip hop truly was in the past. It no longer informs and encourages thought and the seeking of knowledge, but rather teaches us to degrade women through misogyny, degrade ourselves through use of racial slurs, promote homophobia, glamorise the ghetto lifestyle and make murder seem a realistic prospect for solving disagreements.
I agreed with a great deal of what was said from both sides, which left me feeling a little confused as to how I stood on the argument, but then I realised that only a small part of hip hop was being argued about, the mainstream. Real hip hop, the kind which is though provoking, filled with double entendres, similes and metaphors, hidden meanings and insights into another’s life as well as your own is still out there, but is masked by the commercialised which makes money and clogs up the airwaves.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of hip hop. I have listened to it for as long as I can remember, and when I go out, I will happily dance to the commercial stuff as it usually has a good beat and I am not too bothered about word play when I am in the zone and feeling the music rather than listening to it. That does not give artist the right to just fill the lyrical content with profanity and negative messages.
With great artists like Lowkey representing the underground movement in the UK, spitting about real problems and trying to keep to what hip hop is really about, it is not as if true hip hop is dead. Deeb, one of the speakers yesterday, talked about how hip hop was so important during the revolutions in Egypt, as the media was biased and controlled by the government, so to get real information about what is happening and be truly aware of the state of the nation it was down to hip hop to inform the masses and mobilise them.
In my opinion real hip hop is out there and available, but commercial is more easily accessible, easier to digest by the masses and is not as good quality as the real deal. That said it does have its place as a weaning tool almost into real hip hop. If the negativity perpetuated within hip hop could be removed and replaced with a more positive message, I think mainstream would be under less attack and more socially acceptable. I have not really gone over a great deal of the arguments put forth here but when a video is available online I will add it here or it will be on the sites I have linked in this post.