Re: Thug rap mocks cultural legacy of black power
- Hip Hop and rap features the worship of prison culture. The gang signs, the tattoos, the clothing mods (pants on the ground), all are from prison culture. Unless you plan to go to prison, why mimic the trappings of prison culture? This "ain't hangin' with winners!"
--- In MusicOfTheStars@yahoogroups.com, "LouRugani" <x779@...> wrote:
> (Chicago Tribune, March 27, 2006|
> By Dawn Turner Trice
> Earlier this month when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded rappers "Three 6 Mafia" the best-song Oscar for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from the movie "Hustle & Flow," I thought:
> "That's just what we need, more mainstreaming of the pimp-gangsta-thug lifestyle."
> What irks me so much about this type of rap music isn't that it's so negative and denigrating and, well, vile--but that there just isn't enough positive stuff to serve as a counterweight.
> That lack of balance with rap music is just one of the topics V.P. Franklin, Ortique professor of politics and history at Dillard University in New Orleans, will be discussing on Wednesday when he provides the opening address for a four-day conference at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
> "Race, Roots and Resistance: Revisiting the Legacies of Black Power" will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the black power movement. (The conference is free. For more information, call 217-333-7781.)
> I know what you're thinking. The controversial black power movement, right? The evil sibling of the civil rights movement. While the civil rights movement dealt with equal access and ending segregation, the black power movement focused on blacks re-segregating and building autonomous institutions to gain control of all aspects of the black community, from politics and economics to culture and arts.
> Indeed, an extraordinary list of conference participants will cover myriad topics (including the controversy) related to the legacy of black power.
> My focus here is the arts segment of the movement because I look at what's happening today with rap music and I worry that its power--its profound reach and influence--is far more destructive than constructive.
> Many of the artists who aligned themselves with black power saw a connection between the arts and the other struggles of the day.
> "The art would serve the larger cause of black liberation," Franklin told me. "The paintings, the poetry, the dance, the song lyrics would raise the consciousness of people of African descent and show them what they could accomplish in solidarity."
> OK, so not all of the art, the music, worked for the cause. But there was much more of a balance.
> Marvin Gaye crooned "Let's Get It On," but he also gave us the socially conscious anthem "What's Going On?" James Brown lit up the radio with "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," but he also urged blacks to "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)."
> The Temptations performed "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," but the group also sang about the perils of the "Runaway Child, Running Wild."
> Of course, rap or hip-hop music isn't devoid of a socially conscious side. There are artists who remember the rap music of the mid-1970s, before rap became a multibillion dollar industry.
> In rap's infancy, marginalized black, Hispanic and Afro-Caribbean artists sang about their powerlessness. Early lyrics railed against poor schools, the lack of jobs, police brutality, crackheads and dope dealers mucking up neighborhoods.
> "Now [rap music] is much more individualistic," Franklin said. "Once hip-hop became commercial, then the artists felt they had a broader audience. And, in order to please that audience, they had to do certain things that didn't necessarily uplift the black community."
> Three decades later, rap artists use their voice, their power, most often to attain the "bling" rather than to further some cause.
> Franklin believes the new artists undermine artists committed to creating more positive work and images that benefit the collective.
> But does art or music have to benefit a collective? Why can't rap artists sing what they want and present the images of their choosing?
> "The problem is we no longer have any control over the images or the styles," Franklin said. "A lot of young people don't see the alternatives. There's just one way of dressing, of speaking, of behaving--the negatives are being validated on so many different levels."
> That's especially clear when a song like "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" wins an Oscar. It does make you want to sing, "What's going on?"
> To get an idea--a forward and backward look--check out the conference.