Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Start of the Ending

Theoretically speaking, nothing lasts forever. Everything must renovate at some point or face certain extinction. Cultures & lifestyles are no exception to the rule. By such a standard, where exactly does hip hop fit in the grand scheme of things?

What started as a prominent declaration of a new youth movement has, over a few decades, become a watered down, generic doppleganger of what it once was. No doubt about it, the pioneers of hip hop/rap music never intended for their legacy to fall into the hands of the light-hearted & lacklustered. Even as it began in parks & abandoned building ditch parties, no one could have foreseen the pillage of a culture so rife with potential. But, no dice. Look where we are now; right where we weren't supposed to be.

Not to compare the hip hop momentum with that of the civil rights movement, but many people sweat, bled & cried for our adorned hip hop to locate it's rightful place in American history. It's as pivotal as the disco era, as poignant as the Harlem renaissance, yet, it gets flanked by most critics & tossed back into the gutters from which it was born. Who's to be held accountable for such atrocity? The ringtone raps, the microwave music, the enormity of the internet, the "hustle" aesthetic, & the "industry" all play a large part in what seems to be an inevitable collapse of the system.

If EVERYBODY is a rapper, then who's left to be a fan? If ANYONE can make & post a video, then who's producing them? The world is changing right before our eyes. Print magazines are falling by the wayside. Record companies are turning to online outlets to sell music. Pretty soon, instead of buying tickets to enjoy an act live on stage, they'll just hold global performances via the Net. & with so many mundane rap acts profiting off of the mindless drones they cater to, it's only going to be so long before hip hop implodes on itself like a black hole, viciously sucking in everything around it.

Hip hop was designed to teach, reach & preach. If it inspired a little emotion along the way then that's a bonus. But, somewhere along that way, it was forgotten that this is for us, by us, & if it ever needs maintenance, it has to be by the originators of it; us. No longer can we stand idly by & allow those of unpure heart to mistreat something so sacred.

Hip hop isn't record sales, funny clothes, gaudy jewelry, crime scenes or the playground for life-like caricatures to romp & frolic. It's the culture that raised us, the lifestyle that taught us, it's the reason I'm writing this at this moment. I keep hearing hip hop is dead, but I disagree. It just needs a massive amount of TLC before it's too late.

If it happened to jazz, disco, etc., then who's to say that we're not the next to go?