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Monday, January 20, 2014

Rappers on News programs making Statements

I am all for artists being proactive and making a statement about the urban hip-hop culture to fix up the misunderstandings that people may have about the culture and a lot of what is heard in the mainstream media. I recently saw this clip on worldstar of Slim Thug on CNN which is a response to the recent video that surfaced with the kid in the diaper cursing and having it described as "thug cycle continues". As a guy who has the word in his rap name, I guess it makes sense for Slim to have a strong opinion on it. The conversation between he and Don Lemon centered around the definition of the word thug and what it stands for.




For me, I look at this and understand what Slim is trying to get at but I am still disturbed by it because it often seems we have to continue to try and hold on to and legitimize these sayings instead of admitting that maybe it isn't right to desire to be a 'thug' and to think you are going to change the meaning and perception of that word when so much of what you may represent is what normal people see as being a thug. While Slim talks about the positive things that he does, at the same time, much of his music involves talking about and in some ways, promoting the lifestyle he led before rap. This includes, drugs, guns, sipping lean, and many of the normal tales we have come to associate with gangster rap and mainstream hip-hop in general. So even when he talks about being positive, he doesn't do enough good to change the connotation of the word 'thug' to something positive where as he says the mayor could acknowledge the work he does do in the community.

The other problem that I have is the lack of responsibility he takes for the potential influence of his music. At the end he defends what he does instead of acknowledging that there are people who are negatively influenced. He is 100% right when he says someone who behaves in some way is more than likely a product of bad parenting but when you know that, and know that because of that bad situation the message that you present has an impact and influence, you have to accept some responsibility. It is always the cop out that "it's not my fault blame their parents" that Slim and rappers like him continuously try to use as a pseudo 'get out of jail free' card but the parents often participate in the same lifestyle that he does without as much success. As someone who does have it, it is imperative that he provides a different view or set of options for those kids who lack the guidance and role models. This whole 'it isn't my fault' attitude has got to stop at some point.

As someone who has money and access now, I feel like Slim needs to stop trying to promote the idea of being a thug as positive and instead use the words and descriptions we already have such as entrepreneur. Why not give kids the idea to aim for something that everyone looks to as being positive, rather than a word that has a muddled description and ideal behind it? Why create and cause the confusion because you don't want to 'conform' and try so hard to hold on to this idea which has had to change over your life?

In addition, rappers have to stop going on TV to look like a fool let's remember this from Dame Dash and Cam'ron on the O'Reilly factor where they tried so hard to preserve this image and these hood rules that while funny, had them coming across to a bunch of people in America as dumb asses who reinforced every stereotype imaginable.



You see I really don't care if Dame and Cam want to be seen a certain way or known as assholes, but just like Bill O'Reilly represents Republicans to the majority of black people and a lot of liberal Deomcrats, and that image is not a flattering one, Dame and Cam represented black people and especially the hip-hop generation in this interview and they did us a disservice. Image is important and while it may be profitable for those two to be seen as counter culture, Myself, their kids and my kids probably won't benefit from being lumped in with this image. Right or wrong to be generalized isn't relevant because at the end of the day it happens, has always happened, and probably always will happen.

We need to be very careful with the images we curate when given the chance to do so in the media. Whenever a rapper is asked to speak he cannot just stick to the same old script like he hasn't learned or experienced new things. As someone who has matured and gotten older, i know my views have changed as I have learned more and I can't legitimize some of these old ideas so how could you still go along with it in your position? Stop trying to convince people being a thug is a good thing and work on changing the direction and path for those who follow you.

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