Degradation of hip-hop makes some fans wonder where the music went

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March 25, 2007

6:46 PM

I miss hip-hop. I miss its beauty, its uniqueness, its essence. I miss its depth and originality. I miss its poetic imagery and its narration. “Hip-hop is dead,” rapper Nas claims, and our generation watched it die. It was wrapped in artistic grooves and pulsating beats, but slowly unraveled itself through overtly sexual and violent themes. The constant beatings of commercialism and materialism led to its deterioration and untimely demise. Now we are left with stereotypical repetitions of money-making anthems and misogynist lyrics that leave women bending over to shake their ass every five seconds.

p. Over the past few years, hip-hop has gone through a massive change in its values and subject matter. When hip-hop emerged in the late 1970s in the Bronx, it was the beginning of a cultural movement. Positive images and themes of unity, political expression and African-American culture were the main elements of this art form. Various DJs and rappers broke onto the scene, starting with one of the first hip-hop singles called “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five soon followed with “The Message,” a critical look at the societal struggles and hardships from living in the ghetto. One can’t forget when Run DMC broke into the mainstream wearing Adidas. These musical artists were hip-hop icons, and the many that followed attempted to emulate and personify greatness.

p. Now, hip-hop is not even remotely close to where it used to be. Its existence is fleeting; it doesn’t attain the same level of vitality and innovation. I don’t see any Chuck Ds or Eazy Es rolling down the street, wanting me to join a hip-hop revolution. I can’t hear the abstract fusion of jazz and hip-hop from A Tribe Called Quest. “Scenario” is being drowned out by imitator rappers shouting absurdities like: “Throws Some D’s,” “Ghetto Revival” or “Hallelujah Hollaback” (who the hell wants to revive the ghetto?).

p. Mainstream hip-hop missteps on the materialistic side and has left me stranded. Recurring images of gold chains, overpriced cars and several loose “bitches” permeate American society and culture. Stereotypical representations of black youth are sprawled in every direction, because my hip-hop generation would rather “Walk It Out” than gain “Knowledge of Self (K.O.S. Determination).”

p. The negativity and disconnection of hip-hop is in full frontal view, while socially conscious rappers The Roots, Common and Lupe Fiasco are buried beneath temporary hits and pushed further underground. Refined lyricism is replaced with contagious beats and catchy rhymes with no profundity, and the tremendous lack of creativity and individuality makes hip-hop predictable.

p. The hip-hop genre is suffering, and we need something to revitalize and cleanse it. Hip-hop needs to throw away those CDs that pose as dental brochures on how to keep your grillz clean and get-rich-quick schemes. Hip-hop needs to abandon the allusions to Scarface, refrain from throwing champagne on scantily clad women and, instead, stimulate minds with positive change and intellectual flows. Its voice is stifled and, frankly, I’m tired of having to learn a new dance every two weeks.

p. Hip-hop — it used to be great. It wasn’t on the corner counting stacks; it was conversing with the people, talking to me. It had an attitude that breathed confidence. It was pure and fresh. Damn … I “Used to Love H.I.M.”

__Genice is a sophomore at the College.__

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