The reality we are facing, is that record companies and the corporations that control tv, radio, press and web media are dictating what we are listening to, and for the most part, is not a good indication of what we represent in our Hip Hop culture.
The corporate world and people with power want us to stay as consumers. They do not want us to gain knowledge, they do not want us to have a voice and they sure as hell don’t want us making any sort of money. This is the reason the music they push down our throats, isn’t about anything. The images of sex and money they portray, distracts us from thinking at a bigger level. The drugs and violence is designed to keep the jails full.
I came across a great documentary ‘What Ever Happened to Hip Hop’ regarding this topic. You can check it out on my blog here .. Watching this really made sense of a lot of things I was thinking about, and it got me inspired to think of possible solutions.
If you are, like us, disturbed by the false portrayal of Hip Hop in these mainstream and corporate environments, no longer whine but get up and be the change. Do not underestimate the influence you as an individual can have, and definitely don’t neglect power in numbers.
Onto the how to: the things we can all do to take Hip Hop back, and forward ..
Do your homework
Study the history of where Hip Hop came from and the roads it travelled. As Kool Keith says in the documentary, know who Kool Herc is, know who Bambaata and The Zulu Nation are, look at what they did, where they came from and on what foundations they were building. Look at what these people meant to the movement, what they did back then and are handling now. Knowing how and why it originated, will offer you an new perspective to peep current Hip Hop music and developments from. Besides that it will win you the respect of the elders for appreciating their efforts and looking beyond your own generation, knowing about the environment they come from. The Zulu Nation site is a good start…
Good hip hop is everywhere. Yes, still! It’s just a little more under the radar, underground is what we call it. To make sure you get your daily dose of dopeness, make sure not to fall prey to the mainstream channels but try a little harder and look a little deeper. Network with likeminded individuals, music fans and industry executives, who are enlightened to good hip hop, in your social feeds and in real life. And with all the blogs on the web, find and follow those few that offer you a solid feed of whatever you’re craving for (The Tika in your bookmarks! Haha). And nothing ever changed: DJ’s are the taste makers. Follow them on Mixcloud or listen to radio shows that can keep you up to date.
Spread the good word
When you find something that is dope, tell everyone you know. Blog it, post it on your facebook, hell, get in your friend’s face! It doesn’t need to be kept a secret! Word of mouth is the most effective way, as it is based on a good recommendation from someone you appreciate and know well. On the other side of the fence, if your friend is trying to show you something they have discovered, take the time to listen; you might just be surprised. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, even if it may offend some people who are disillusioned!
Stop supporting wack shit
Simply do not support wack shit. Question it all. Don’t give them your dough and don’t vibe to their tracks if you don’t actually appreciate what they do and what they stand for. Even if it’s your favorite artist and they have fallen off, you got to let them know they have fallen off by not purchasing their product. And then; do support good artists by buying their music opposed to downloading it for free. This way you allow them to continue practicing and perfecting their craft without falling victim to the starving artist syndrome ;)
N.W.A said it: Express yourself! You don’t need to be a word class writer, podcaster, designer, organizer, social media guru or in whatever you’d like to do, to do it. If you have a passion for the culture, you can get involved and contribute to the culture, in your own way. Start something of your own or join an existing cause, combining your passion for Hip Hop with whatever other skills you have. Look around at publications or organizations online and offline that support what you appreciate and see how you can help.
As an artist, have something to say. Do not be a carbon copy. Be original, one of a kind, as you were born. Look at the world around you and comment on it. Look into the truth of what is happening, because the media is smoke screening you! Don’t be so self absorbed and write about yourself ALL the time. People get sick of the same old topics. You get the point and I think J-Live illustrates it best here ..
Be business minded
It may seem impossible to compete with multi million dollar labels and corporations, but it can be done. Study what it takes to win in the music industry. Double up as a business person, as well as an artist. How can you reach as many likeminded people as you can with your brand/message/product? Get yourself a good manager, a publicist and a booking agency, or team up with other starters in the game. There are plenty of resources on the net, and I suggest sharing ideas who have been successful for you. One great guy, who has a lot of knowledge to share about the music industry is Domingo, a beatmaker from NY. I suggest hitting him on Facebook.
Each one, teach one
For established and successful artists, teach! Pass on what you know to the next generation. It is a good way we can achieve growth in our community, and for young cats to carry on your legacy, and keep our music at a high standard!
Complaining about the state of affairs does nothing. We have to take action and offer solutions, not dwell on the problems. I hope this article finds you well. The power is and will always be with the people. We just have to be strong and united!