Hey Biz Talkers! As we’re nearing the end of 2022, I feel the need to address the 1000 pound gorilla in the music industry. That is, of course, the saddening and overwhelming amout of violence plaguing the Hip-Hop community. What is more saddening is the fact that this violence is taking place entirely between those who look like me.
The list of rappers killed just this year is way too long, and has very recently included the killings of Takeoff from the Migos and PNB Rock. This rate of violence begs the questions, why is this happening and what can be done to stop it?
First, the mindset of what it means to be a Hip-Hop artist must change. It appears that Hip-Hop has devolved from Rappers Delight to delighting in the harming of other rappers and other people within the black community. Words have the power to edify or destroy. If an artist believes that the only way they can make money, be respected and have value is to promote drug use, violence, and irresponsible sexual behavior and misoginy, there is something very wrong with how the importance of life and death, and the importance of the affect of the lyrics on the people that are hearing them.
When Hip-Hop was born in the late 1970’s, the status of a rapper was based on using lyrics to express how much skill a rapper had in making their point in a positive way. Today it appears that that status is based on how much tougher or “gangster” one artist or group is than another group or artist. Art at its core celebrates meaning, thoughfulness and pureness in creativity. If rap is promoting murder, drug use,and irresponsible behavior, it would appear that the artistry is clearly being lost in transaltion.
The culture of our communities has contributed heavily to this problem. If a rapper is born into and nurtured by a community environment that is steeped in negativity and violence, it is difficult for them to consider creating positive and empowering subjects to rap about. The fact is that your environment will change you before you change the environment. How much different whould Hip Hop music be if the community culture was based on self -love rather than self -hate, or on collective empowerment rather than jeolusy and envy against each other.
Record labels also share a significant portion of the blame for this problem because they are making it clear that they are unwilling to sign or promote a Hip-Hop artist that represents anything else other than negativity and violence in their music. This approach, in turn, places tremendous pressure on rappers to present this image becaue they see this approach as the only avenue to obtaining a lucrative record deal and earning the money, influence and status they are looking to achieve as a recording artist. We must remember that a record labels primary objective is to make as much money off of the music that is most popular and will be purchaased by consumers at the highest volume. Since this is the case, would the record labels not sell music with a positive and uplifting message if that was what the people in the black community wanted to listen to and would sell as many units?
Music still sold millions of units decades ago when the message was greared toward love, unity, peace and good times. Why? because the music reflected the views and musical tastes of the community in order to sell records. The record labels had no issue promoting this message because it was making money for them. The fact of the matter is that Record labels will have no choice but to promote positive music to sell records if they know that this is what the community and culture want to listen to and purchase. We can look no further than country music to prove this point. Unfortunately, we now are now seeing a vicious cycle in hip-Hop where the culture and community embrace violence, which leadss to the rappers expressing violence, which leads to the record labels selling violence to make money, which leads to the distribution of negative music which continues to encourage the negative behavior and violence in black communities that is destroying the very artists and people that the music industry is exploiting to make billions of dollars every year!
The bottom line is, we can stop the violence in Hip-Hop by changing the culture and mindset of how we view the meaning and value of our lives. How many more rappers have to be killed before we realize the power of positive change that lives in the Hip-Hop world and in the music created by its artists? We are engaging in insanity by doing the same things repeatedly, and expecting a different result. We have to change how the game is played by changing the rules and the playbook. Violence begets violence. Hip-hop can truly be an art form again if it is used to edify our minds, lives and communities rather than destroy them, and the talented artists that make the music so valuable and enjoyable. Now is the time to stop the foolishness in Hip-Hop, and choose life over death. Until next time, Peace and Blessings!!!