Friday, April 19, 2019

4-19-19 Falling in Lust with Hip Hop



Falling in Lust with Hip Hop



Written by Fiordaliza White


“So…When did you fall in love with Hip Hop?”

For many of us, that one question takes us back to our early 90’s vibe when it seemed that everything was about black love, resilience, and an ever plastered image of relationships goals. Public Enemy was on the airwaves early reminding us that 911 was a joke, Nas was ruling the world, Ice Cube showed us what a good day in ‘progressive’ America looked like and MC Hammer, well, MC Hammer was still letting us know that we can’t touch that. The world wasn’t all peaches and cream at that point. We had “5 on it” even back then. We knew about scrubs and backing that a** up, but we also understood that grown men were still listening to their mama about knocking you out, while still hearing Tupac’s exclamation that mamas are appreciated. Black queendom was at a high, and black masculinity was an established birthright manifested.

The ‘Flava in our Ear’ depicted a unique musical genre, a rich culture, a movement. The idea of hip hop, R&B, and its culture was empowering, but not aggressive. It lured us in with the promise of what could be in a very subtle way. Making love, growing empires, and the importance of strong union was the messaging everywhere. Girl groups and boy groups were running on overdrive towards the end of the 90s. We were making bands and creating breakout stars. Hip hop was powerful, alluring, and influential. From Lauryn to Blackstreet, Hip hop had a spot for the thinkers, the players, and the bosses. We wanted to become our artists; emulating their styles, listening to their voices, and blasting our music loudly so the airwaves carried the essence of each artist into the ears of our children. Hip Hop was a child-rearing tool, the lyrics instructing them that mothers were powerful and should be regarded as such, that women were queens and should be wooed and flirted with, drawing them closer to the security felt only by a powerful and confident man. Hip Hop was a man’s sport and a woman’s game, with both parties playing collectively in the sandbox, creating images and structures that stood tall.


Most of us fell in love with old school hip hop because of its influence and its power. We wanted to be woke soldiers and not mindless robots. Hip Hop was our way to that education. We knew about the history of our music, and we understood its power. There was a war going on politically that played out in the airwaves. We knew its power because we understood its impact, and we heard the stories about a time when our voices weren’t allowed to speak. 

Hip Hop was our freedom train. Today, Hip hop is the lady in the long skirt, while rap was the baddie in the club. As times changed, the focus from hip hop shifted to rap because it felt more like the culture. Expletives and freedom of thought on overdrive was preferred over soft messaging. This might be why hip hop had to step it up a notch. It was trying to keep us engaged because it was losing us to another genre. Hip Hop had to lift its skirt and throw on some makeup, covering its natural beauty to allure its audience.

So, what happened? How did so many go from loving the essence of hip hop, to constantly disregarding its core in pace of its beauty? We live in a culture that understands hip hop and its influence, but it seems we only want the pretty parts of hip hop. We want the aesthetics of hip hop, what it looks like, the beats moving our bodies, but it seems we are growing increasingly tired of its heart. The love we had for strong messaging, being awake, and being alert is seemingly silenced by the lullabies of twerks and hardcore raps. Our noticeable shift into lustful, uninhibited, blatantly sexual culture creates the perception for any young artist that beauty and lust, the idea of being desirable, makes it while being strong, beautiful, and tactful is the alternative. Perhaps it is the sign of the times. Hip hop is a movement that represents the culture, after all. It could be that hip hop shifted because we shifted as a people and that our needs and desires shifted once we ‘felt’ free. 

We decreased our avenues of political influence through music and begun to take political offices and we shifted our narrative from music to speeches. At times, it feels like we took the ‘best and brightest’ out of the hip hop classroom, and left behind the underachieving, praising the class clowns who were left behind. Hip Hop was special, an elite class of peers worth resembling, but now, it appears to have shifted into theatrics. The natural beauty of hip hop is overshadowed by the allure of the quick one-hit wonders, and the care and patience we put into loving it has turned into a lustful desire to soothe our temporary need when the ego needs replenished.


Fiordaliza P. White is a Levels Ready Entertainment Contributor. She is well experienced and creates resumes, writes and edits academic/ professional content, and conducts Socioemotional development workshops through her company, Way with Words. White can be contacted at vision4words@gmail.com

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