Rap music and the “modern hip-hop culture” was born in the United States of America. Today, it is not only a large international culture itself, but a large part of American pop culture. From the music to the fashion to the dancing, hip-hop is everywhere. However, the culture as we know it was created by a movement started by people such as DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Marley Marl, etc.
However, just because the iconic pioneers of a culture with a poorly documented history are black men doesn’t mean it isn’t something for everyone. Those who respect, appreciate, and uplift the art, intentions, and culture of hip-hop are hip-hop.
Rap music, mainly through corporate involvement and commercialism, is viewed by the ignorant majority as a genre of flaunting wealth, being misogynistic, and being “thugged out.” This gutter, grimy, rugged façade over rap is viewed as black supremacist, homophobic, violent, and having the previously named characteristics (by outsiders of course). Such accusations have been placed on the music since the late 80’s/early 90’s. Spin magazine mentioned Public Enemy being called homophobic in a magazine issue. Public Enemy is known for their socially and politically progressive content. While some are accusing and discrediting of this image, some seek to identify with it. An example of one who does this is Lord Jamar. Though, Lord Jamar does have a respect for hip-hop, LJ respects other races being in hip-hop. He generally has a progressive agenda, but he obviously has a homophobic chip on his shoulder.
“Bill Clinton is the first black president” has 3 million results in google’s search engine, “Bill Clinton is a white president” gets none. Time and time again people love to identify by race, but in the end it’s a fruitless pursuit.
WATCH THIS (specifically 13:00 mark)
tl;dw It’s not whites that aren’t allowed to push agendas in the house of hip-hop, but people who aren’t hip-hop.
There is such value put on outsiders speaking on hip-hop. Ones who should be considered Noble Amateurs, and those who shouldn’t are being reversed. In the Wikipedia article of Kanye West’s Yeezus album, the critics listed are USA Today, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, etc. None of these critics listed are hip-hop critics. None of this press specializes in hip-hop, or was born through hip-hop (except SPIN to a degree). No Vibe, no XXL, no Source magazine listed on Wikipedia. And the masses still gobble this up, and truly value these ratings, despite the actual reviews listing a plethora of rudimental “bars” (not to say the album was trash, peep the review). This is a vivid representation of why scores aren’t as important as descriptions. This sacred and coveted “5-stars!” is reduced to repetitive quoting of underwhelming lyrics.
A lot of these issues boil down the the celebrity obsessed culture in America. An incredible amount of music consumers have fetishes on the music artist(s) (who are also celebrities) whose music they like. When a new artist comes up in today’s pop culture they are glorified regardless of content. This is why rappers like Trinidad James remain popular. The “one-time wonder” is now dead because of this. The mass commercialism in hip-hop causes artists to become bigger than their art. According to KRS-ONE, hip-hop boils down to four main elements. Emceein’, Deejayin’, Graffiti, and Breakin’. Emceein’ is utterance, Deejayin’ is cutting, scratching and mixing, Graffiti is self-expression through visual printed art, Breakin’ is expression through dance. All of these things are arts, so if artists are becoming bigger and more important than that, they superimpose on the culture. The true picture of hip-hop fades into the background, especially since the history of it isn’t well documented or researched.
Knowing these things, to have someone with powerful love and respect for hip-hop denied for something as simple as the color of their skin, their origin, nationality, or anything is absurd. Recording artists who speak for the people should be readily accepted into hip-hop. In a specific example: Macklemore, a hip-hop artist that has a respect for the culture, and speaks for the people with songs like “Thin Line” (My bad, I meant “A Wake” – itzme) is hip-hop undeniably. This way of living is for anyone who will embrace it.
In light of things like the Grammy’s and things like that, keep in mind who is and isn’t Hip-hop. The only way to truly uplift the culture is to focus on the people within it that actually have love and respect for it.