Hip Hop has become a satire of itself. Don’t believe me? Try to make a hook/chorus-line that’s so outrageously ignorant that it’s funny. Did it sound something like the Billboard Top 5 rap songs for the week of Sept 1, 2012? Is it just harmless entertainment? Lupe Fiasco doesn’t think so and I agree.
Billboard Top 5 – Week of Sept 1
1. No Lie – 2 Chainz feat Drake (Song about money, drugs and sex)
2. Bag of Money – Wale feat Rick Ross, meek Mill & T Pain (money and sex)
3. Lemme See – Usher feat Rick Ross (sex and money)
4. Mercy – Kanye feat Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz (sex and money)
5. Amen – Meek Mill feat Drake (money and sex)
See a Pattern? Can you imagine how many times the top 5 songs are played in rotation on the radio?
Recently Lupe Fiasco released ‘Bitch Bad'(video embedded below). A satire on the satire. His lyrics warn about the danger in the bombardment of hedonistically themed music on society and culture.
These songs are marketing at its worst. By pandering to our lowest common denominator (the hood,) these song convince the unsuspecting public that obesity, frivolous spending, and self-loathing are healthy, wealth and wise. Weak-minded individuals, including impressionable children, absorb the images and lyrics in these rap videos and aspire to become the revered figures that everyone seems to admire. As sad as that is, it’s not the tipping point.
What is a tipping point?
Malcolm Gladwell defines a tipping point as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.” His book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, seeks to explain and describe the “mysterious” sociological changes that mark everyday life. As Gladwell states, “Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do.”
What’s hip hop’s tipping point?
Hip hop has always been boastful, but the tone of the No. 1 song, ‘No Lie’ is the small psychological change that will create mass sociological change. The boast has gone from “life is better with all of these luxuries” to “life is worthless unless you have all of these luxuries.” This slight change in the way information is presented has an enormous change on how hip hop’s audience views itself.
Recently there have been many albeit small uproars about natural hair vs. weaves and relaxers. Most natural hair advocates became alarmed when the tone of the hair conversation changed in the same way as and due to hip hop’s boasting. How damaging is it to the self esteem of a woman if she believes that her natural hair in its natural state is inferior and ugly? The mentality that Eurasian hair is prettier is kind of sad, but the mentality that African hair is shameful is cataclysmic.
This mentality that one’s natural state is inferior to a superficial one is the driving force behind high debt, dropout-rates, teen pregnancy and crime. Television, music, and peer pressure are proven to have a greater influence over an individual than any other force in his/her life. So the next time you’re singing “bands to make her dance,” keep in mind the effect that thought has on you and your community.
I’ll leave you with a line from No. 5 song ‘Amen.’
“Bottle after bottle until I overdose / Pull up in the Phantom watch them bitches catch the Holy Ghost / Every time I step up in the dealer I be goin’ broke / Shorty wanna fuck me I say get on top and roller cost… / I say Church, Preach, Amen.