20130616-191022.jpg

In this blog series, I endeavor to document the evolution of Hip Hop and discuss what those changes signify about American culture and Black culture. Hip Hop music is (and always has been) so much more than just music. Let’s talk about it.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Kanye West talked about his new album, Yezzus, the Taylor Swift incident, his albums, and career. During the interview Kanye made several statements that are indicative of a feeling that a number of Hip Hop artists have addressed for years.

Most people are familiar with the concept of commercialization and what that has meant for the Hip Hop community. My personal critique on it is less harsh than many O.G. Hip Hop heads simply because I see Hip Hop as sort of a reflective lens. To me the commercialization of Hip Hop was inevitable because America is a capitalist country and as Americans we are encouraged to make money by any means necessary.

However, the commercialization of Hip Hop led to a loss of control for the Hip Hop community. Those instructional powers that have been — and still are — calling the shots view Hip Hop through a purely business lens with none of the sentimentality that the artists and fans have. This means that Hip Hop is treated as a commodity by the mainstream. This objectification of Hip Hop smothers artists who desire to think outside the box or are too radical or controversial or political. Artists like Kanye, I can only imagine, are a record labels worst nightmare: talented, lucrative, and strong willed.

In the article Kanye discussed how he felt his creativity has been stifled by his record label. He stated that he had been in meetings where he was told to his face that they (the label executives) were trying to figure out how to control him. His response in. The interview was, “Why do [they] want to control me? Like, I want the world to be better! All I want is positive! All I want is dopeness! Why would [they] want to control that?” I think his confusion is sincere. And the fact that he is openly verbal about is poignant. It is the struggle many artists are facing all the time. Kanye confessed that when he made 808’s and Heartbreak he was asked to do it under another name because it didn’t fit with his previous repertoire. He went on to discuss how he felt My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was actually a “backhanded apology” for the Taylor Swift incident. Kanye stated: “You know, even a Kanye West has compromised. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’re being compromised till after the fact, and that’s what you regret.” He admits that he felt pressured to win back the public by showing how talented he is but in a way that made the album less about his actual talent and creativity because of where his intention was at the time.

20130616-191509.jpg

Despite the fact that Kanye can be an “asshole,” he is genuine and vocal about what he feels. In a time where everybody wants to be PC even at the risk of denying the true feelings, that is admirable. Because of that it has become politically correct to dislike Kanye and to viciously critique his every move but dude is talented and has the balls to speak his mind. You get respect for that in my book. And the bigger picture is that Kanye is at the forefront of the struggle to bring sincerity and creativity back to Hip Hop.

Hip Hop is not music. Hip Hop is a culture. It is the defining movement of Generation X. Our forefathers had Black Power and Civil Rights. We have Hip Hop. If we stop degrading Hip Hop and allowing it to be reduced to an insignificant commodity, we will see just how powerful the movement can be.

In general, America is coming to a point where the people are growing tired of the constant oppression. The pressure to conform is greater than ever as the power structure of the country changes and the distractions are beginning to fail to keep the masses ignorant. Because of that people will slowly begin to walk away from the delusions. This is what is already beginning to happen in the music industry. The tight held reigns of control over Hip Hop music and Hip Hop artists are being pulled away from the record labels and mainstream media channels. With the Internet, YouTube, reverb nation, cd baby, dope hood and the other musical outlets that support and allow artists to create and share their talents, the power is shifting back to the people. This is going to change the way the game is played and we have to pay attention and not miss that moment. That will be the moment to assert ourselves and our desires for the music that we love.

I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,

An Angry Black Man

Advertisements
Comments
  1. roddklever says:

    Interesting POV…. Not a fan of Kanye and his antics, even though the comment about Bush on the Katrina Marathon was hilarity. I enjoy the point of view you have of transparency and easily it being tapered off in hip hop music. Great read.

  2. roddklever says:

    Reblogged this on RoddKlever.Com and commented:
    Awesome post for all my hip hop heads…. Definitely check this post out…

  3. Sian Mann says:

    Nice perspective. Kanye is one of the most aggravating musicians I have ever supported. On one hand the guy is talented, not just as a hip hop artist, but as a producer, and on the other hand, he is a complete jackass. I have been conflicted with him ever since the release of 808s, an album that shit in the face of all Kanye had established himself to be. I hate his arrogance and personality, but it is that supercilious character that has had him producing classics like College Drop Out and Graduation… Even writing this I still don’t know how I feel about the dude.

    As a hip hop musician – yes (though there have been hit and misses, and I am not sold on Yeezus yet)
    As a person – na…

    • DesiBjorn says:

      That’s one of the things I wanted to make clear in this post. That Kanye is something if a Hip Hop phenomenon. I use that word to say that whether you like or hate him or both or sometimes one and other times the other…he affects you. He is also extremely talented and so brazen and willing to be flawed in public view that you can’t hardly ignore him. And I personally admire him for it. I’ll deal with his jackassness because his talent and sincerity I think Hip Hop needs. Hip Hop has become too politically correct. Ideally Rap should answer only to the Hip Hop culture and the sincerity of the perspectives therein. IMO.

      So is Kanye rude? At times Is obnoxious? Almost always? Is he talented, relevant, and honest? Hell yea. Like you said that leaves many conflicted about how to feel about him but, again, you can’t ignore or get rid of this dude and in action, conversation, and musical contribution he forces Hip Hop heads to think and to respond. I ain’t mad about that lol.

      Thanks for reading and responding. I’m really enjoying the dialogue and hope to see you speaking out on any and all of my future posts in this series.

      • Sian Mann says:

        He certainly is one of the most engaging, charismatic and controversial musicians of the past decade. I won’t ever doubt his skill, I may question his sanity at times, but his skill and what he has contributed to Hip Hop – nope. But I see where you’re coming from. He is candid, and outspoken- perhaps stupidly so – and I think that’s what annoys people about him. He’s upfront about how good he is, and what his thoughts are on the world that everyone is always taken aback by his comments. And no matter how much I say “Kanye’s a tool” I know I’ll still cop his latest works regardless.

        And no doubt I will share my thoughts on your further posts. When it comes to Hip Hop I enjoy a discussion.

Talk to me...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s