Friday, September 28, 2007

The great hip hop debates

This week was a week of the great hip hop debates. First, there was the special Hip Hop vs. America, and then there was also the Congressional Hearing on hip hop. I haven't had a chance to see the BET special; its on the BET website. I did see the Congressional hearing on hip hop, which though it didnt accomplish much, was very interesting.

One thing about these debates was two artists who were prominent in the debates; Master P and David Banner. Master P has been written off by alot of writers who want to prove how "down" they are as somebody who is more or less irrelevant and washed up. However, in the Congressional hearing I did like how he emphasized that all the music he put out in the past that was negative he was sorry for; he realizes the responsibility he has as an artist. Though his popularity is questionable, I think that he is by default the only person who could represent his stance; I dont really hear or see any other artists making such a claim. Good for him.

David Banner was also at the Congressional Hearing and I thought he represented really well. He's at the forefront now of the "Dirty South" music scene, and he is known for straight strip club music, songs like "Like A Pimp" and "Play". I say that he is known for that; you'd have to hear all his music to know what he's about; he does note the conflicts of his genre in some of his songs. These conflicts came out in his testimony; that of commerce vs. positivity.

Many of the politicians were very judgemental of David Banner; its like they want so badly for him to put out a "positive message", but then he tried to say that he's got pressure from his fans, record execs, and then there is the issue of making money. The politicians I feel needed to get off their high horses, after all, they can be brought like David Banner can be brought; and their actions are far from clean, as much as David Banners actions are far from clean.

Though David Banner's music may leave much to be desired morally, I really dont think its the politician's place to urge David to make "positive" music. Dave made a good point,clean the streets and we will make clean music. But the moral conflicts that affect David Banner's choice of the music he makes are no different than the moral conflicts that pervade the politicians and their choices.

Whatever the solution to the "problem" of hip hop lyrics, what I took away from this long and drawn out hearing is that though there are lots of interesting and colorful theories and opinions that hip hop feminists, conservatives, intellectuals and psychologists can bring to the table, there simply isn't and will never be a political solution to this issue. These politicians have no place in dictating or influencing culture. Period.

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