My professional Hip Hop journey began in 1986. This was the height of the crack era when every inner city (hood) in America was on fire with the game and death and prosperity were close first cousins. Hip Hop was the soundtrack that played as the game rolled along. In the town (Oakland) it was if the hood had struck oil. New cars, fancy clothes, fresh drippin' jeri curls and all the sex you wanted was a twenty four hour reality. Money came in stacks and any problems were dealt with quickly and with finality. We took our cues from Tony Montana (Scarface) and the mob, if you crossed the homies you paid with your life.
Rap music spoke to all facets of this life. The fast tempo party music (MC Hammer), the player pimp style of Too Short and the political awareness and pride and consciousness of Chuck D and Public Enemy. There were very few magazines that could cover, report or depict the world that was emerging and unfolding right before the world's bloodshot eyes. The square journalist would build up any artist who brought his homies and a gun to an interview as a certified gangsta. No kills and no moving weight necessary. They (journalists) were just glad to not get beat down and smashed on.
The unhealthy fear of these square journalists would later lead to the deaths of two of rap's greatest artists as they would be the victims of a war of two coasts that only existed in the stories of these cowardly exploitive scribes. There was only a beef among a small group of men. Last time I checked the East Coast was made up of at least thirteen colonies and the West Coast stretched along the beaches of the Pacific Ocean from Washington to Mexico. Until this day these cowardly scribes have never come clean and accepted their collective responsibilities. They still glorify any artist who says, "I was shot" or, "I just got out." Keep in mind that in the streets the one who did the shooting was the gansta. Only in the world of the diconnected and fearful could the victims become the heroes. They write from the standpoint of survival in their minds. They are not alone as their stories are repeated, hyped and sensationalized by radio squares who couldn't point their way to the hood but sound on the air like some of the downest cats ever. Now this acting and attitude has spilled over to Hip Hop chat rooms and forums. These "instant message killers" and "text bangers" all sound and talk so tough in these forums. Stop it man and be yourself. Grow up. Render your opinions without the drama.
But I digress. Back to the Eighties.
The energy was electric. The last time there was a movement like this was the Studio 54 parties in the mid-Seventies disco era. Just like that era, in this new era of Hip Hop music, drugs, sex and hustling played a vital part in the rise and influence of the genre. Music lives in clubs and on the radio. Radio programmers and DJs love all the vices that come with the music game. Drugs, power, influence and sex. Back then the exception to the rule was a record that was so hot that it worked for everybody. The DJs played it in the club because the dancefloors would be packed. The radio station programmers played it because the phone lines would light up. It was a win win across the board.
Today is strictly pay to play. Music and the underworld have always co-existed. Frank Sinatra and the mob. Bugsy Siegel and Las Vegas. Why is there a sudden infatuation and interest by the powers that be to tie Rap artists to the drug game? Guilt by association? Rap artists and drug dealers come from the same community, live in the same neighborhood and stay on the same block. If we are to allow the maturation of Hip Hop we must face the reality of the musicians who produce the music. Ninety-nine percent of rappers come from drug infested communities. Is this news?
Instead of trying to lock up Hip Hop, allow us to continue to create hope and legal economic opportunities in these same crime and drug infested communities. Yes, we know drug dealers and killers. We grew up together. There is only one hood. Yes we take calls, put money on books and go out and eat with felons and convicts. It would be impossible for us not to. Three out of five African American men have been arrested or served time. You know that. They are our people. We will not disown them. Let my Hip Hop business model encourage them to do the right thing. Let my Hip Hop business model, success and wealth allow me to invest in the community and bring hope to the next generation. I want to provide resources that help develop the next Kevin Lyle (President Warner Music), the next, Steve Stoute (dealmaker and broker), the next Sean Combs (artist, business man) and the next John Singleton and MC Hammer.
Allow the maturation of Hip Hop so we can see and witness more acts of wisdom like the union of Nas and Jay Z. Not all Hip Hop journalists and radio DJs write and talk out of fear. Some are real and they speak and write from truth and from their hearts. It's this group that can help with the maturation of Hip Hop. Present Hip Hop as a complete and whole community. We are fathers, uncles, teachers, ministers, engineers, directors, and yes squares and geeks. Everybody who consumes this music ain't killers. It is a fact that the majority of this music is bought by mainstream America.
Anyone can funk and go to war, we all got soldiers but it takes real men to make peace. Peace may not sell these squares' magazines but it can save a community and bring prosperity to our people.
from my sidekick