If you search for definitions of Loyalty you will get variations of the following: “a moral commitment, tenacity, or adherence to a commitment, bond, or obligation”. By many Hiphoppas worldwide, loyalty is seen as an important and vital aspect when it comes to their crews, hoods, friends and cultural circles. It was even the Temple of Hip Hop’s Hip Hop Appreciation Week Theme of 2012.
I would like to talk about what loyalty can mean in any form of relationship and what it means to me. In any relationship with two or more people involved, both sides expect a certain level of loyalty from one another. The particular form of loyalty and how far this loyalty goes, depends on both you and the person that you choose to be loyal to.
It’s them and their ideas about loyalty that determine what this relationship asks or demands from you. Of course next to this, you have your own ideas. If these ideas contrast with each other, both sides should compromise and comprehend the new rules and values of the “relationship” personal or business wise. Every relationship has values, yet they are not always openly discussed. If the relationship is important enough and you’re unclear about what the values are, this is something you should talk about.
Though the form of your loyalty is subject to change, real loyalty is a choice and it starts from within. Loyalty is a moral commitment which can only be made when you value the relationship enough. Loyalty is one of my basic principles and if this is true for you, then you shall not backstab a person who considered you to be a friend, nor will you not start a friendship just for personal gain.
If loyalty is one of your principles, that means that if you’re not loyal to your friends, you’re not loyal to yourself. Betraying a friend would be breaking your principles and therefore becomes betraying yourself. If you are strong, committed and for real with it, you won’t let this happen.
When you consider loyalty a priority you will notice you won’t make as much “friends” because you and others know that when you get into it; you commit to it.
“Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.” – Socrates.
Make sure not to get Loyalty and Mental Slavery mixed up. Loyalty isn’t real if you’re only loyal to someone when it’s smooth sailing and nice words. This way you give them the power of your loyalty, or in other words; ass kissing. “Kiss my ass and I’ll be nice to you” is not loyalty, nope. Also beware of people who happen to be close to you like relatives: Blood makes you related but it is Loyalty that makes you family. Last; when your loyalty isn’t appreciated, don’t stick around, but be loyal to yourself and cut the ties. Staying with someone that does not appreciate you isn’t loyalty, it’s stupidity.
In my opinion to be loyal to yourself (and thus to everyone you decide to be loyal to), it all boils down to ‘keepin’ it real’. In an interview with Immortal Technique, Rapper Ice-T explained what this means to him: “Keeping it real means keeping it real to you, not what’s real to everybody else. If you wanna be a doctor and you go on to become a doctor, then that’s keeping it real”
Like respect, loyalty is something that is earned, and grown over time. Loyalty isn’t gained in an instance. You will notice that when you are loyal to people who are not present at that moment, you will build the trust of those who are. To be loyal, you have to have the strength to keep it real and to value your friends well-being and feelings over your own ego.
But the question is.. how far to go? How important is the friendship, relationship or other commitment that you made and what sacrifices would be worth its continuation?
The Notorious B.I.G. gives the same advice in this clip right here: