Contributing to hip-hop’s death

By Taheerah Abdul-Rahmaan

According to an article on Yahoo news, Paramount Pictures is removing some billboards promoting the upcoming Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson movie, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” because local Los Angeles activists argued the billboards promoted gun violence.

There’s no need to quote the grim statistics relating the vast amount of young people who are victims of gun violence. This time, the overlooked victim will be given 600 words of media attention.

In the latest XXL music magazine, New-Orleans rapper Juvenile, when asked about his family and friends, stated the horrors of Hurricane Katrina go “beyond a house or a door. We lost an environment… We lost that spirit.”

Even though I plan on viewing the movie by 50 Cent, he’s killing hip-hop.

“What an oxymoron,” you might say, patronizing a man who is an accomplice in the death of a culture rooted in the arts of a people who use music like others do church.

How ironic to add a few more pennies to 50 Cent’s piggy bank.

The fact is almost every rapper, from 2Pac and DMX to N.W.A and 50 Cent retort to the cries of cultural assassination in that their music is an expression of their lives. It’s not meant to incite violence, promote it or maintain it. It’s their employment, their way of venting, adding to the cultural diaspora, and, of course, getting paid.

To their credit, many rappers weave the above point in their lyrics. Verses like in Jay-Z’s “Izzo” read: “Life stories told through rap/ [people] actin’ like I sold you crack/ Like I told you sell drugs/ no/ Hove did that so hopefully you won’t have to go through that.”

Rappers will drop a song (probably on the B side of the album) along the lines of positivism. Just listen to Cam’ron’s “Lord You Know”, Lil’ Wayne’s “Grown Man”, 2Pac’s “Dear Mama”, Nas’s “I Can” and Ice Cube’s “Us”.

Let’s not forget Jadakiss’s “Why”, where he states, “Why they have to open your package and read your mail/why they stop letting [people] get degrees in jail”

Even in the eye of the storm, there are countless rappers who consistently release songs adding some degree of depth to the hip-hop culture. Think of artists like Common, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Nas, The Black Eyed Peas and Little Brother, to name a few.

BET’s “106 & Park” is filled with hip-hop’s “bad little brother,” so to speak. David Banner’s “Work It” is offensive, and I don’t feel like getting “Naked” right now Marques Houston. Twista’s “Girl Tonight” has me wondering if sex is all rappers can rap about these days. The Youngbloodz “Presidential” has got to be joking.

But “106 & Park” isn’t alone; just about all of BET’s music shows continue to recycle these negative, violent-filled songs with monotony. MTV isn’t much better. They just might throw in Common’s “Testify” video while “Direct Effect” is showing its end credits.

In effect, rappers are only pushing the agendas of conglomerate music, parent marketing machines like Interscope Records, Columbia, Sony Music Group, Universal and Arista Records.

Industry executives keep pushing the prototype of bad-rapper-with-a-tattoo this month, and thug-with-some-controversy next time.

It’s as if there’s a standard now insisting video props to be expensive cars and rump-shaking women. The rapper has to sport the latest diamond-studded watch, have tattoos, disrespect women and flaunt a gun in order to, in the end, be the coolest rapper in the industry right now.

Then that rapper succumbs to the braggadocio and threats of the next “big thing”, and the cycle’s repeated all over again.

This leads back to 50 cent, who sold 1.1 million units of his latest LP “The Massacre”, in four days, according to Entertainment Weekly.

And his new movie is set to be a big hit at the box office.

In 50 cent’s first lines on the movie soundtrack song “Hustler’s Ambition”, he states that “America has a thing for this gangsta [stuff], they love me …”

Let’s face it. America does love controversial rap and controversial rap stars.

So then again, who really is the accomplice in the murder of hip-hop culture?

Columns reflect the opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the Northern Star staff.