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The Foundation for the Study of Hiphop Consciousness
Editorials on Hiphop Culture and Consciousness
Thoughts, Viewpoints, and Perspectives:
This section allows The Foundation to share its views on Hiphop and all related topics.  This page will be updated with new articles periodically.  If you'd like to give your opinion about the issues addressed, please email us at:
To read articles written by contributing writers, click on "Guest Writers" in the navigation bar at the top of the screen.

Perspectives:  by Dome
There are a few reasons why Hiphop Culture is portrayed in such an unbalanced way.  During the mid to late 80's, when there was great diversity in Rap music, the industry was still unclear as to where this Rap thing was going.  Run DMC had been successful, the Beastie Boys, and some other acts were doing fairly well.  Still, to the industry, the future of Rap music was unclear.  Then drops NWA.  Completely revolutionizes the world of Hiphop.  That's when the industry got its first real taste of how profitable this could get because NWA appealed to a broad range of people.  It appealed to those whose life was reflected through NWA's music and it appealed to those who weren't living it but who could live out their ghetto fantasies through their music.  The industry welcomed similar acts and many aspiring artists were happy to oblige.  So-called Gangsta Rap blew up and at that time, many Gangsta Rappers had controversial but legitimate social commentaries to make.  The industry wasn't really going for the social element that still alienated a large portion of potential consumers who had no interest in hearing about serious issues affecting Black and Latino communities.  So the social aspect was slowly phased out, Gangsta Rap's mass appeal grew, and it became a caricature of itself.  We haven't recovered since.  Great profit is made while some people high up in key positions are fulfilling their hidden agendas of preventing Black people from progressive communication with each other.  When Africans were kidnapped and brought here, one of the first things the oppressors did was to block communication between Africans in order to destroy their hope and neutralize any potential plans of revolt.  Today, many artists are naive and become pawns in this vicious game that started centuries ago.  We need to recognize that the problem is way bigger than Hiphop.  However, as consumers, we can start supporting those lesser-known artists who have something meaningful to say.  It's a simple thing to do yet so many are reluctant to do so.

 Laying the Foundation by Dome

Let's get something straight from the very beginning.  I spell Hiphop as one word with a capital H.  This idea was initiated by KRS-One and the founding fathers of Hiphop, Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, and Grandmaster Flash, as a way to differentiate Hiphop, the culture, from Hip-Hop (2 words), the product.  Why is this important?  Because too many people are unclear as to what Hiphop Culture really is and tend to use the term frivolously. Hiphop Culture is commonly recognized by its main elements: Graffiti, Djing, Breakdancing (B-boying), Mcing (Rapping), and Beatboxing.  However, these elements are simply forms of art designed to express a deeper meaning.  At its core, Hiphop is so much more than mere art and entertainment.  Hiphop is the constantly evolving spirit and consciousness of urban youth that keeps recreating itself in a never-ending cycle.  It is joy, sorrow, pleasure, pain, victory, defeat, anger, happiness, confusion, clarity, humor, intensity, dream, nightmare, life, death, and everything else in between.  It is the spirit that connects the past to the present and lays a path towards the future.  The spirit of Hiphop is the same as Jazz, Reggae, Blues, Doo-wop, Be-bop, and a multitude of other types of expressions, be it musical or otherwise, that African people throughout the Diaspora have given birth to and introduced to the world.  That very spirit is what breathes life into a simple idea and transforms it into a living cultural movement.  Hiphop Culture cannot be assimilated, integrated, diluted, watered-down, sold for profit, or pimped.  It will always exist, in this incarnation or another. 

Hip-Hop (2 words) is the product being sold to you and your children by mainstream media that pollutes the mind and makes impressionable individuals think that being a pimp, player, thug, ho, bitch, gangster, baller, or hustler is the thing to do.  It is the poison being fed to you by mainstream rappers who say that its not their job to be anyones role model while they depend on 13 to 20 years old fans to buy their music.  It's the studio thug telling your children to represent thug life while his children are well provided for and attend private school.  It's female rappers who encourage their young female listeners to stay in school and out of trouble when speaking at junior highs across the country while their music tells the same kids, "You know what were about, sex, drugs, and cash" (The Jump Off, Lil' Kim) and "Pussy dont fail me now, I gotta turn this brother out" (Pussycat, Missy Elliott). 

I could go on but you get the point.  Hiphop = life and all it has to offer; Hip-Hop = death served to you on an iced-out silver platter.  This knowledge lays the foundation for all  those who thought of Hiphop as nothing more than entertainment.  Spread the word!

Some MC's say that their lyrics reflect what they see and live.  What do you think?

This statement is only true for a very small number of Rap artists, like Tupac, who actually rap about legitimate struggles they've experienced and what happened as a result. For the most part though, this statement is mostly made by Rappers who try to find an honorable sounding justification for their lyrics that reflect nothing but gratuitous sex and violence They're not even consistent with that statement.  One day they say it's just entertainment, nothing to be taken literally.  The next day, they're getting arrested for gun possession or shooting at somebody.  And the day after that, they're talking about how they're not about violence but just victims of the media's unfair coverage.  Make up your minds!  Plus, when you're in the entertainment industry, touring the world 24/7, making movies, starting clothing companies, record labels, living in the suburbs, etc., how do you continuously justify talking about the streets? An artist's lifestyle and its many responsibilities force even the most thugged out cat to experience other things besides the streets.  Here's another point.  50 cent may say his lyrics reflect what he's seen in his streets growing up.  Nas is from the same Queens streets, just about, but his lyrics, as opposed to 50, reflect that same reality with legitimate consequences and outcomes.   If Jay Z says his lyrics mirror his environment, why are Talib and Mos Def who grew up in the same Brooklyn streets, considered conscious MC's for their social commentaries but not Jay Z. for his reflections on street life.  Again, Mos Def and Talib have the tendency to offer a moral to their stories.  Bottom line, MC's who rhyme about what's considered gangsta or thug life, do so simply because that's what they like to rhyme about and it sells records.  They could give a damn about the negative influence it may have on their listeners.  If they TRULY cared, they'd be more responsible with their lyrics and offer a solution or moral to the story, regardless of the labels concern that it may diminish the profitable "keepin it gangsta" factor!


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