By: Dela Awuyah
I was born while we were still mourning the loss of arguably one of our greatest of all time. Son of Afeni Shakur, Tupac's lyricism and intelligence were long-relegated to a cultural waste bin cleverly blanketed by the term "urban music." The likes of Mobb Deep were considered as mentally slow, and "thuggish," based upon their raw, yet undeniably smooth imagery.
For years American culture has found a way to consistently slut shame hip-hop in all its forms. While hip-hop is one of America's only official cultural innovations, young artists are considered as rowdy and unpleasant. In this age, hip-hop's founders shun the new direction taken by their culture. Finding themselves allied with the forces they once rebelled against, "hip-hop heads" stomp on the seeds of their search for freedom.
Get Rich or Die Tryin' was released the same year as Tupac: Resurrection. A wise man once told, "hip-hop is what the people are doing" (Yasiin Bey). Since its' inception, hip-hop has evolved to represent multiple outlets to the struggles of "post-modern [slavery]" America. Hip-Hop consistently acts as the outside world's translator, however, some images can only be experienced. While American Pop Culture teaches us to believe they're the only relevant perspective in the world, they refuse to attempt an understanding of the circumstances and experiences required to process at least some foreign concepts. Had you never seen the colour purple, upon finally seeing it, instead of admitting defeat, the colour would be correlated to its near cousin; blue.
The Dirty South movement was a new colour in the eyes of an American populous. These rappers were brighter, more candid, and prouder than ever of their lackluster moral values and shiny material things. Preaching a disciplined focus on the making and manipulating of funds, the Southern Movement came off as braggadocious, and to most a waste of time. In reality, the Southern Movement brought to light the lifestyles of the marginalized and infamous, allowing rappers and producers alike more control over the financial and artistic aspects of their content. Southern rappers refurbished the core values of hip-hop, capitalizing on the importance of the freestyle.
The stories hip-hop has to tell will never end, nor will they remain the same, however at any point and time, Hip-Hop will represent a shade of the truth. From Project Baby, to Earl on Xanbars, to Bones, and back again. Hip-hop was never meant to be defined by someone's colour or lifestyle, but rather to teach us how to celebrate the motions of an every day struggle we all go through to be free. Hip-hop has simply been profession of one's struggle, and relating with those that felt the same, or who learned to accept and celebrate defeat to translation.
There is deep fear in admitting we know nothing. The world of Hip-Hop scares those who know the world. Hip-Hop never died. Impregnated by the future, her fathers question if she remembers who raised her, but he fails to see she's everything she's been made to be.