Every one over the age of twenty-one seems to have a problem with the state of hip-hop today. Rap lyrics glorify selling drugs and they abase women, there’s no message in the music, hip-hop sets a bad example for the youth…
Gregory Inman of Hoodie Muzik Group posted something on Facebook about people spending years in school to learn proper English then not using it but being quick to use whatever new slang rappers came up with. I couldn’t agree more! I commented on the post about the use of the word ‘cray’. I spelled it that way because I thought that ‘cray’ was short for crazy since that’s the way people used it. Well, Gregory schooled me on what ‘Kray’ really meant to Jay-Z and Kanye West. Supposedly, they are comparing themselves to mid-twentieth century London gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray. They were NOT shortening the word crazy, yet thousands if not millions, of people used the word as such. I started thinking about how much influence hip-hop’s lyrics have on people, particularly young people.
I remembered years ago overhearing men in New York talking about X5s being feminine cars, all because Jay-Z said, “We don’t drive X5s, we give ‘em to baby-mamas”. I certainly can’t forget the popularity of the Motorola two-way pager after he mentioned it in “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it to Me)”. The mention of Ciroc in too many songs for me to name, has resulted in a bottled being present in every black home I’ve entered in the last six months. I thought about when I heard of young girls searching Aston Martin on Google after hearing it in Rick Ross’ song and the YOLO movement/madness created by Drake.
The bigger picture is that hip-hop has grown into a major marketing platform since Yo! MTV Raps days. It’s commercial now and that commercialism has contributed greatly to its growth. Lyrics are often calculated marketing schemes that people buy into. I don’t think Jay and Ye are secretly laughing at us for not being as worldly as them and knowing that they were comparing themselves to the Kray brothers. The truth is that most rappers today live a totally different lifestyle than they used to. Back then, rappers and their fans were more closely linked socially and maybe even financially. Now, rappers are experiencing and talking about things that most of their fans only hear about from them.
This is definitely a different era of hip-hop. Most of what we hear in hip-hop today is about big booty hoes and Lambos. The Lost Boys aren’t telling us about Renee and Pac isn’t telling women to keep their head up. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there just aren’t enough Lupes to balance out the 2 Chainz?
And what exactly is the problem? Is it really that bad for young girls (or anyone) to find out what an Aston Martin is from a hip-hip song? Doesn’t this happen with other genres of music too? Maybe it doesn’t. But isn’t that the power that consumers give to celebrities? Doesn’t star power equal marketing power which grows into cultural power? If that’s true, who’s to blame when the outcome of this marketing is a culture of materialism, vanity and ignorance?
I say Diddy and those shiny suits are to blame! That’s what changed hip-hop. I’m only joking, or am I?