When it comes to hip-hop, opinions are as varied as they are misguided.
Baby boomers blame one genre of music for racist shock-jocks’ remarks and the state of our nation while the geriatric crowd dismisses it all as noise.
White kids look at their hip-hop-loving peers and label them with oh-so-clever quips like “wigger” and “inside-out Oreo” because they can’t possibly be down with Tupac or Biggie and sunburn so easily at the same time.
Black kids watch their white counterparts bob their heads to a Neptunes beat and shake their heads like it’s just one more thing the white man has stolen from them.
And we all just seem confused by an Asian man or woman who knows the words to a Mos Def joint.
It’s as if something as all-inclusive as music has suddenly turned a blind eye to its sole purpose and only furthered the divide between us.
If you know hip-hop, you know that it came from the black and Latino community. There’s no denying that without a few inspired people who needed to get their feelings out about the struggle of being a minority in America, there would be no hip-hop. But it grew.
As with many cultural movements, it caught on and spread from the southernmost MC to the north-side b-boy and across the West Side all the way to the East.
What those of us who love hip-hop share are a cultural experience unique in its sound, its style and what it means to each individual.
Today, however, that unique sound has been drowned out by a mainstream formula that follows what very few know as reality. A movement that began with a positive message has since been diminished to guns, drugs and a male-dominated world.
Rappers like 50 Cent utilize the spotlight to further their paper chase and prove that they really do surround themselves with scantily clad women and spinning rims.
Radio stations have misogyny, drug pushers and gang life on high rotation while other artists’ vinyl with tracks speaking about the war in Iraq, abortion and the degradation of women, especially black women, are still on the shelf.
This is not to say that popular MCs like Jay-Z and Kanye aren’t trying to educate and make good music at the same time, but heavy beats and hooks club-goers can recite on repeat oftentimes take precedent over intelligent lyrics.
MCs like Talib Kweli and Common stand in the background.
They’re patiently waiting for hip-hop to come full circle back to the days when the culture was recognized for what it brought to suburban, white America, graffiti art to visualize pain, break dancing to bring the battle off the streets, emcees to tell the story and DJs to bring music to the whole scene.
Nas said hip-hop is dead, but it was alive and kicking Monday night on the West Lawn when Common came through to revive it at CSU.
Campus editor Marissa Hutton-Gavel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.