Hip Hop and our Youth
Yesterday Homeboy Sandman and I lead a discussion in Brooklyn with some middle school students. The discussion covered many topics. The media monopoly, how drugs get into predominantly brown communities, food options, self hate, the prison industrial complex and hip-hop. The way young people speak honestly and openly about things is so refreshing, invigorating and telling.
One student explained that he likes to listen to Chief Keef because it makes him “excited to fuck somebody up or clap someone”. He then said that he is not a violent person and that he would never really clap someone, but the music made him feel that way. He realized as he was saying this out loud that the music was affecting him in a way that he wasn’t necessarily proud of.
We posed the question. Could the mainstream hiphop that is being pushed to young brown Americans be a form of mind and behavior control? Everyone has a rap name of “young” and “lil”. Children are young and little. So children gravitate toward these artists. Artists who promote other commercial enterprises (ciroc, maybach, etc) are walking commercials. And if they are making you feel like clapping someone, that will surely put you into the prison system, where they make more money than from any record sale.
Sharing all of this because it made me realize how much harder it is to be a fan of hiphop as a young person today. When I first found hiphop I was able to hear many different voices, many encouraging me to demand better from myself, my community, my teachers.
Today’s young hip hop fans have to deal with a music that is literally trying to kill them. The same student who commented on Chief Keef said, “our generation is messed up, we have everything but we’re wasting it.” To which HS reminded him, “Your generation is strong, you have all of this negativity coming at you and its disguised as your friend but its the enemy.” I could literally see the light switch turn in this young man.
I don’t think we changed anyones life yesterday. I do think we started the process of thinking critically about what is being presented to them, what are the intentions and who is benefitting from the results.