Google+ Q Dot: Does rap get a bad rap?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Does rap get a bad rap?


Dear people not really all that affiliated with hip hop and the entire culture that encompasses it,

I’d like to inform you just in case you forgot that the year is 2010, not 1992. Long gone are the days of “Cop Killer” tunes and bloods and crips bangin’ on wax. The term hip hop, the word rap or even the thought of young black males (and now even White, Asian or Latino) getting on a stage to perform should not in the least bit insinuate that the type of music they create could be considered “gangster rap” yet we all know that whether some of you reading this will admit or not, that’s the first thought that comes to mind.

The term gangster rap is archaic, teeters on bigotry (under the veil of music) and does nothing but pigeonhole an art form that varies just as much as other genres do. Speaking of which, every rock band isn’t a heavy metal band, you’ve got your emo, punk, indie, alternative, folk rock, chick rock..you get where I’m going. And oh yeah, every hip hop act you sign up for a show or to be a fan of doesn’t have to always be the politically charged, fight the man, two turn tables and a microphone, underground, ‘lets-grow-beards-and-write-rhymes-in-a-basement” style either. Not when you have west coast, east coast, down south, Midwest, club, Miami bass, and now even the developing freshcoast sound available.

I understand the differences and I understand how they originate. I understand that stereotypes, for all their negative connotations actually do some good because they help people sort things out in their own minds. In efforts to clear those up, there's a couple situations I always use to point out the disparities in our society against hip hop.

A guy goes to a country music bar. He pulls up in his pickup truck, parks it, walks in sits down to have a few beers. He has a gun in his truck, in fact, most of the men in the bar have guns in their trucks and that’s okay because they’re merely exercising their right to bear arms – that’s what you do in the country.

A guy goes to a hip hop club, he pulls up in his car, parks it, walks in to dance and have a good time. He has a gun in his car, in fact a few other guys at the club have guns in their car as well but they’re considered gangsters. Because stereotypically hip hop and guns equals gangs.

Or…I use this:

Cowboys, idolized in country music and culture, historically were ruthless, dangerous and were notorious for committing crimes. Murder, rape, burglary, theft, racketeering and other crimes that even today are frowned upon yet nowadays the Great American cowboy is romanticized as a symbol of freedom, courage and all things American.

The gangs of the 70s 80s and 90s were quite the same: Ruthless, dangerous and notorious for committing crimes, yet as they had been often romanticized in hip hop music as idols they’re a symbol of everything wrong in America.

You can see the situation is the same but the outlook is drastically different. The year is 2010 not 1992. Sometimes I feel like I’m living in 1952 as hip hop in parts of this country of ours still is still fighting for it’s civil rights.

Make sure you go to GritCity Fest June 17-19 to witness and be a part of the musical and artistic civil rights movement in action; Rock, Hip Hop and Art all mashed together in the City of Destiny, Tacoma, Washington. Go to www.gritcityfest.com for details.