I recently had the pleasure to watch one of the most thorough and coherent discussions about the history and current state of mainstream popular Hip Hop on the Oshay Vlog Channel. Watch it HERE
The seven participants were all in their 30s early 40s and each of them brought an age appropriate degree of sophistication to their analysis that is usually lacking in such conversations. With “big boy” glasses fully intact they looked at hip hop through the lenses of history, culture, finance and – most importantly in my view- politics.
Refreshingly there were none of the tired, unsophisticated refrains like “it’s just entertainment”. Somewhat surprising was the fact that there were no apologist on the panel. It seems like in every other discussion I’ve watched on this topic there’s always someone in the mix who manages to supply a steady stream of weak excuses for the degeneracy that characterizes the current state of the genre.
When I reflect on this massive sea change on the landscape of hip hop music, it’s very clear that it has been intentional and not controlled by either the artist themselves or the black listening community. So while the title of the panel asks if current hip hop is worse than white supremacy, I think the proper conclusion was reached in that it has been turned into a tool of white supremacy. Power Brokers from the dominant society have been at the forefront, and the question you have to ask is why? I think the clearest answer requires looking at hip-hop and music in general from a politico-economic perspective.
The most potent force in the arenas of politics and economics; two areas where black woefully lag behind, is organization. How many times have we heard the phrase “if we could just get together we could do (insert lofty goal)? The way that you get masses of people on the same page in our modern world is through the media, of which music makes up a considerable component.
Let’s keep it real….. the dominant society is not interested in a more equitable distribution of political and economic power. Why should they? To keep things the way they are is advantageous for them.
So in a grand chess move they have turned mainstream commercial hip hop into a mass weapon of infantilization designed to distract, destroy, and dissipate any potential organizational energy that could challenge their supremacy.
The American Heritage Dictionary offers the following definition of infantilization.
- To treat or condescendto as if still a young child
- To reduce to an infantile state or condition: causing grown men to squabble like kids about trivial things
Sexual discipline – that’s a power move. Buying financial assets as opposed to trendy non-essential consumer items – that’s a power move. Maintaining a stable family structure – that’s a power move. Community economics –that’s a power move. You won’t see any of this advocated for in popular hip hop or any other genre of music targeted at black people. Notice how romantic R&B has essentially been killed off as well?
In marketing the most coveted demographic it is the 18 to 34 year old. They possess the most desirable combination of disposable income coupled with a high degree of impressionability. They are open to trying new things, care very much about how they are perceived by their peer group, and often times lack the sophistication to appreciate psychological game being played on them. The marketing machine then feeds them a fire hose of imagery and ideas through the music designed to get them you care deeply about brands, rap beefs, sex lives of celebrities, and other ultimately inconsequential fluff. The community is drained as mental and financial capital is squandered trying to imitate the lifestyles of the artists. All the while they continue to implement strategies to further consolidate their grip on the wealth resources and infrastructure in this country man indeed globally.
Having been a teen during the mid-90’s glory years of hip hop, I freely admit I was “there” in terms of being an avid consumer of the music and it having a degree of influence on things like my hairstyle (high top fade), sneakers, and dance moves. Probably owing to my conservative Christian upbringing, I tending to gravitate toward the more clean cut and conscious rap artists as I felt their art had more of a redeeming quality to it. So while I sampled the NWA gangster culture, I binged out on the Heavy D, Fresh Prince and Public Enemies that expressed more mature themes of community empowerment and dare I say, love? The bigger point is that back in those days we at least had the legitimate choice as hip hop was much more accurately reflected the full spectrum of black life experiences and aspirations. Contrast that to today’s situation where the vast majority of the hip hop that gets any popular traction is trap beat, mumble lyric noise that to my mind can scarcely be called music. The themes are all the same –sexual bravado, drugs, supposed crime, etc. I literally can’t listen to if for more than a minute or two before I begin to feel the assault on my intellect
So as a 43 year old married physician and father of 2 pre-teen girls, unsurprisingly I have “aged out” of hip hop; a similar sentiment expressed by many of the panelists themselves. As serious men who have been fortunate enough to reach a certain maturation stage in life, what can the genre really offer us? My playlist, like the one panelist mentioned, is filled with motivational tracks from Eric Thomas –“the Hip Hop Preacher”, Gary Vaynerchuk, Les Brown. I need music to help me get up in the morning and exercise, be a hungrier businessman, and love my wife and daughters. Speaking of the latter I was particularly encouraged when on a recent drive down to the beach I threw on “Summertime” by the Fresh Prince and my daughters, hearing it for the first time, began to nod their heads and ask who the artists was. History class was in session.
So in conclusion; if we’re ever going to rise as a people we are going to have to make the tough decision to keep our younger generations from the toxic effects of mainstream commercial hip hop music. From my vantage point, this seems very unlikely to happen on a large scale any time soon. At the same time if it’s ever going to happen it will come through the path of platforms like the Negro Manosphere growing overtime and becoming the new media with black people’s mature interests at heart.
“Doc” is a practicing oncologist and investment enthusiast. His writings and insights have been featured on MSN money, BiggerPockets and The White Coat Investor. His first book “Alternative Financial Medicine” shows how anyone can invest in high yield cash flowing assets. Available on Amazon HERE