Hip-hop originated as a way out of oppression for those whose lives were affected by injustice, lawlessness and corruption. As time has gone by, the primary focus and message of hip-hop culture has been permanently tainted from its origins of poetic expression of the oppressed to an industry manipulated to sell an image. In the words of Cornel West, “hip-hop has become tainted by the very excesses and amorality it was born in rage against.”
Created by talented black youths of the hoods Hip-hop has become one of the most entertaining and influential cultures around the world; the catalyst being the vain disgust with selfish, capitalist callousness of adult culture within the hood as well as the society as whole. However, its view has been completely transformed into that of a materialistic, violent, nihilistic and flashy nature. Hip-hop was also used as a political platform. Artists such as Mos def, Talib Kweli, Outkast and Dead Prez vocalized truths about the corruptions in the political system as well as the truth about black suffering and resistance in America. Most artists could even break down the root and meaning of their stage names as metaphoric symbols of black suffrage in a twisted society.
As the entertainment industry grabbed a hold of hip-hop, it became evident to them that Caucasian youth (72% of which buy Hip-Hop CDs) found more interest in the violent-ridden, male-chauvinistic mode than the prophetic and began to reconstruct hip-hop as a mainstream entity, leading to an economic boom. Now, according to Cornel West, we are left with two categories of hip-hop: the prophetic hip-hop, “which remains true to the righteous indignation and political resistance of democratic energies,” and Constantinian hip-hop, “deferring to the dogmas and nihilisms of imperial America.”
As a devout hip-hop fan, I can truly say that I believe hip-hop has lost its way. I listen to conscious artists like Common, Blackstar (a duo of Mos def and Talib Kweli), A Tribe Called Quest, Erykah Badu and The Fugees and I am able to feel and visualize the messages and knowledge they are trying to communicate. Now, I find it easier to vibe with local or underground artists, because their messages communicates on a more conscious and relatable basis than what’s on the radio. We have lost the origin and beauty in an art form to the greed of the entertainment industry. Can hip-hop be saved ? or do you believe it doesn’t have to be ?