- Aug 9, 2003
How The South Destroyed Rap:
By Minister Paul Scott
By Minister Paul Scott
Hip hop is many things to many people depending on which side of the planet you rest your head. New York is honored for being the birth place of the genre. Cali is known as being the place that capitalized off of gangsta-ism (for better or worst.) And the South is known for what can best be described as "Hee Haw Hip Hop"; that throw back to the era when people lived in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten.
Welcome to Dixie Land.
While many Hip Hop headz will, vehemently, argue against criticizing any one region for the demise of the genre, it must be admitted that the worst form of Hip Hop for the last decade has originated below the Mason Dixon line. While other forms of Hip Hop have at least tried to convey some sort of message, Southern Hip Hop is as devoid of style as it is substance, that is, unless you consider dudes with gold teeth rappin' like they have a mouth full of snuff some sort of swagga chic.
The rappers of the South Coast seem to go out of their way to rep the stereotype of country folks having the intelligence level of a watermelon to the fullest. Every time, I hear a Gucci Mayne or Plies song on the radio, I think that my IQ drops a couple of levels.
It must be noted that this has not always been the case.
The history of southern Hip Hop can be traced back as far as the early 80's with an artist named Shy D and his Planet Rock type rhythms. He was followed by Luke "Skywalker" Campbell and the 2 Live Crew who gained world wide fame for their mixture of Hip Hop and hedonism and their attempts to push the 1st Amendment to the limit by claiming that they could be "as nasty as they wanna be."
Like NY Hip Hop, the South also had a brief conscious era ushered in by the Dungeon Family (Outkast, Goodie MOB) in the mid 90's. However, just as gangsta rap replaced East Coast conscious Hip Hop in the early 90's, "Crunk Music" replaced the socially conscious rap of the South by the late 90's.
Much of the credit for this can be attributed to the mastermind Steve Gottlieb, at the time, owner of TVT records, a company that started off selling TV show themes but found out that they could make a whole lot more money popularizing retarded rap (Ying Yang Twins) and making, otherwise, intelligent black men (Lil Jon, reportedly has a Masters Degree) sound mentally challenged.
The question we should ask ourselves is how can an area with more than its share of black institutions of higher learning (especially the ATL) now be famous for producing music only suitable to step and fetch to?
Historically, perhaps, it has something to do with the post Civil War Era as many black folks left the South to go North where getting an industrial job required a higher level of education than it took to pick tobacco.
Also, according to Dr. Noliwe Rooks in her book, "White Money, Black Power," "southern whites feared that education for blacks would provide African Americans with the means to, eventually, upset white supremacy."
Dr. Claude Anderson in his book "Black Labor, White Wealth" argues that after slavery, "cultural customs and laws forced the newly emancipated blacks to conform to the historical image of blacks as common labors."
So the plot was clear, keep black folks deaf, dumb and blind to preserve white socio-economic hegemony. We see the same method of operation today with "Operation Dumb Down," today. This is why most commercially successful southern rappers sound like they are just two feet off the plantation.
In an effort to preserve the status quo, the powers that be are determined to destroy Hip Hop and take the minds of black children down with it.
If the rationale for "Operation Dumb Down," is, indeed economic, then the counter solution must also be economically based.
As Jay Z said, "men lie, women lie, numbers don't."
This, so called, holiday season is the period when the entertainment industry counts on making most of their money by pushing anti-conscious Hip Hop. This is why we are using "Black Friday" to kick off the "Black-out Ignorance Boycott." We are asking that those who truly appreciate black culture and want to save Hip Hop not purchase anything that disgraces our culture from November 27-January 1st (the end of Kwanzaa.)
Instead of buying music to put us to sleep, we must support artists that are trying to wake us up, whether it be internationally known Hip Hop pioneers like Rakim or up and coming MC's like Pittsburgh's Jasiri X. With the educational challenges that our young people face, we must also start buying more books and less video games. Also, instead of paying hundreds of dollars to turn our youth into walking billboards, advertising everything from Home Depot to Mountain Dew, we should seek out designers that have clothes with positive messages.
This makes a whole lot more sense in tough economic times than spending what's left of our hard earned cash on bamboozled bammas who happen to have hot beats.
Now we are aware that some folks are going to miss the point of this call to action and dismiss this as a case of "hatin' on Hip Hop" as that is what they have been programmed to do. Some will even argue that we are in control of the images of us that are projected around the world.
Dr. Bobby Wright put it best in his book, "The Psychopathic Racial Personality, " where he discussed "behavior modification" by quoting psychologist Dr. BF Skinner who wrote "it is possible to delude people into believing that they have the essence of life-Freedom and dignity-and still control them."
So, as in the days of Harriet Tubman the condition of our people remains the same.
Some folks just don't want to be emancipated from mental slavery.
As the great heroine once said.
"I freed a thousand slaves..I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves."