H. Rick Goff
I LIKE HIP HOP
I like hip-hop! OK, I've made this very public admission. I'm 58 years old, a baby boomer and a child of the 80's and 90's, and I like hip-hop. While I'm driving, I mostly listen to hip-hop stations on the radio. Maybe some comedy and R&B, but mostly hip-hop. Of course, I love Earth, Wind, and Fire (RIP Maurice), Frankie Beverly and Maze, Luther, Patti, Whitney, Michael and many others from my generation. All of my favorite music from my youth "had a good beat and was easy to dance to", and I still listen to this music quite often.
But today, my playlist consists of songs by Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Drake, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Logic, Russ, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B. (However, I will concede, I really don't know what Cardi is saying even when she is not rapping, I don't know what the title of her hit song Bodak Yellow means, or what the song is really about, but I like it!!)
I admit, some hip-hop lyrics are a little risqué, or I should say the lyrics are downright nasty sometimes, but many carry a message. They highlight the struggle of the artists and the environment they have had to deal with and overcome. Much like Marvin Gaye did in his timeless song "What's Going On”, where he gave a hard and insightful examination of the social turmoil of the sixties. Hip-hop artists examine some of the major issues of our time. For example, suicide is one of the struggles of this generation. Some hip-hop artist deal with the issue of suicide in a frank, but direct manner. In, 1-800-273-8255, Logic approaches suicide in a way his generation understands. It's a beautiful track and the video is a must see (https://youtu.be/Kb24RrHIbFk). If the song has prevented one suicide, it should be one of the biggest hits of all time! BTW, 1-800-273-8255 is the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline!
Hip-hop artist write lyrics and rap about what they see and experience in their lives; their struggle. In many ways, I can identify with them, how they grew up, and what they write about. Like many of them, I was brought up in a single parent or single mom home. "Sweetie" Goff raised me, we struggled, and in hindsight had very little. But Sweetie made do with what we had, and she never let me make or use any excuse for failing. She made a positive out of our environment, and pushed me, and my siblings to be better than where we came from.
The hard-core hip hop lyrics laced with profanity, drugs, sex, and violence paint a picture of the environment many hip-hop artists have dealt with all their lives. They write and rap about what they know about. They may glamorize the "thug life" and struggling, but make no mistake about it, they are all trying to get out of this environment, and better themselves. Many make it out and are thrust into a spotlight they are rarely prepared to deal with, they still struggle, but now their struggle is with success! Unfortunately, while you can take people out of their environment, sometimes you can't take the environment out of people.
But there are many hip-hop artists who make it out and achieve an extremely high level of success. Ice-T (Tracy Morrow), Ice-Cube (O'Shea Jackson), Mary J Blige (her real name), Snoop Dogg (Calvin Broadus Jr), Dr Dre (Andre Romelle Young), Queen Latifah (Dana Elaine Owens), and even Fresh Prince (Will Smith), were all hip-hop artists at one time in their careers. They are now all main stream entertainers and entrepreneurs worth millions. Snoop actually does a cooking show with Martha Stewart--who knew?, Dr Dre sold Beats headphones for a cool billion to Apple, and the Fresh Prince is only one of the most powerful men in Hollywood (might run for President--I'm starting and spreading that rumor)
Yes, I like hip hop, I like the vibe, the beat, the tone and when I can understand them, I like some of the lyrics. I know of others in my generation who like hip-hop more than I do, and while I am not going to out them in this essay, you know who you are!