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Hip-Hop Fridays: Rap Music Is Killing Hip-Hop Culture by Rashida Restaino


Hip-hop is dying, and it is dying because of rap music.

Before you get that perplexed look on your face, please keep in mind that rap and Hip-hop are two different things.

Rap is a music genre that is linked to the Hip-hop culture. Rap is to Hip-hop as chapter is to book.

Hip-hop is dying, and 50 Cent is holding the murder weapon. As a rap artist, 50 Cent's success includes being ranked No. 1 on the Billboard charts for weeks and selling more than 870,000 CDs, making him the rap equivalent of Britney Spears: Not only does he not add anything positive to the music genre, but he also exploits it for his own financial gain.

50 Cent's idea of entertaining lyricism includes a song titled "Bloodhound" where he says, "I love to pump crack/ Love to stay strapped/ Love to squeeze gats but you donít hear me, though."

What is occurring here, and in most cases in Hip-hop, is the push from big record labels who aren't concerned with the integrity of the music or message, but how many units of a violent and negative record they can sell.

Hip-hop is the graffiti, the urban vernacular, the breakdancing, the culture and way of life that rap is a prominent part of.

The thirst for money and perpetuation of violence is the reason why rap is dying, and it is killing Hip-hop in the process.

To understand how these diseases have infested the genre, you have to know how rap artists are defined. If I have to explain why Talib Kweli and Jay-Z are both commercial rappers, I am going to break my headphones.

The word "commercial" means for profit. Anyone selling his or her CD for money is a commercial artist.

Many people will argue that it is the lyrical content that separates different rappers. For instance, because Jay-Z and The Clipse rap about money, drugs and women, their music is put in a different category than Common or Mos Def, whose lyrics are about cultural awareness. What people fail to realize is that no matter what the messages, the artists make a profit. The only difference is the number of zeroes behind the dollar sign when you compare one artist to another.

Which leads me to my second point. People who take money away from the artists' record sales are stealing from the art form.

It is a sad day in Hip-hop that artists have to protect their music from "fans" stealing the songs.

According to an article displayed on Launch.com, respectable artists like Jay-Z have to cleverly maneuver their way around pirates that are trying to release his CD "The Black Album" before he does.

"That's why we're moving the release date,"Jay-Z said in the article. "There's no honor among thieves, people bootleg strictly for capital gain."

Not paying for CDs by your favorite artists is stealing, and it is another virus that is killing Hip-hop.

What did you do before Napster? Oh, I remember. You dubbed your friendsí tapes for the songs you wanted. Well, it was called piracy back then too.

Besides a couple of interviews with some rappers, I have no ties to the industry; I am disappointed in sharing music files as a fan. If these artists are good enough for you to listen to, than why not support the music they are making financially?

Donít misconstrue what I am saying. Hip-hop is not dying because supposed rap fans keep stabbing it in the back. Many of the artists in rotation right now are not responsible for the sounds, messages and images they are inundating their audiences with.

It is bad enough that the culture is being diluted by the elements of Hip-hop being used to sell common products.

The music industry is nothing but a conglomerated machine that pushes 50 Cent onto the masses and uses the media's negative stereotype of young African-American males to further their market share in urban music.

As far as I am concerned, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is a worthless pawn holding the gun that is killing the integrity of rap music that others before him have struggled to earn.

There are several factors that play into the death of Hip-hop. Destructive rap music provided by "entertainers" like 50 Cent are hurting the genre from the inside, and bootleggers stealing from the artists are causing a dichotomy in the social exchange that Hip-hop offered through rap music.

Now everything is a battle to the death.


Rashida Restaino is a columnist for The Northern Star, where this article first appeared and can be contacted via e-mail at: rrestaino@northernstar.info


© 2003 Northern Star. All Rights Reserved.



Friday, November 14, 2003

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