Panelists sought to define what is at the heart of hip-hop at a Temple Issues Forum event held on Thursday, Nov. 21.
While some speakers and audience members view the violence and misogyny that is a part of some hip-hop negatively, others argued that this was a reflection of the society that many black Americans grow up in.
The facilitator of Temple University’s Hip-Hop 101 class, Michael Coard, argued against hip-hop artists who were only after money. He said that artists like Puff Daddy or Master P are willing to sacrifice their artistic integrity “because they are the selfish and mindless manifestations of capitalistic greed.”
Coard also accused female artists such as Lil’ Kim of presenting themselves and simply as sex objects and nothing more.
“[This] destructive embodiment of the self hate that resulted from about 350 years of slavery and Jim Crow,” he said. “White supremacy continues to reward black females primarily for the sexual favors they could provide.”
Coard added that many black men believe that hip-hop is about thugs proving how tough they are. He said that this causes many black youths to idolize criminals while “dissing black college graduates as nerds.”
The final panelist, Monika Peters, said that hip-hop portrays negative values because the drugs, sex and violence that hip-hop artists rap about surround many young black people today.
Peters said that hip-hop merely reflects the communities in which modern hip-hop artists grow up in. To make the music positive, she said that people must stop being so lazy and first try to improve the communities in which black people live.
Peters said that black people have lost control of hip-hop, which she said is “their music.” She accused white people of trying to take over the genre and that a major effort must be made by blacks to regain control before any positive changes can be made.
“People need to stop buying into the fake hip-hop artists and begin supporting true hip-hop artists, who aren’t just in it for the money,” she said.
Audience members agreed that the communities that hip-hop reflects must be improved to positively influence today’s music. However, the audience was split as to what actually could be called hip-hop.
Some said that true hip-hop is a subculture of African culture, which has positive undertones. They said that hip-hop with negative themes is not authentic hip-hop.
Others agreed with Peters that hip-hop is a reflection of black communities; negative hip-hop is still true hip-hop.
While many in the audience agreed that steps must be taken to stop what they called the decline of hip-hop, some felt that the music is just fine the way it is now. These people said that the panelists must learn to appreciate the artists, whether they have negative messages or not.
One audience member who wished to remain anonymous, stormed out of the debate, angered by what the he called the false sense of knowledge the speakers had about hip-hop.
“Hip-hop is really a vehicle used to inspire education and inspiration for children of our (black) culture,” he said.
Andrew Linenberg can be reached at Woo8080@yahoo.com