16 Bars for Power
Just because you are young and Black it doesn’t mean that the world cannot respect you. Back in the day Fred Hampton, a black 19 year old at the time, started a Chicago chapter of the Black Panthers; they influenced the nationwide lunch programs in American schools. As youth we are too legit to have the world handed to us only to obey it. “Politics” speaks our language; today it can spit 16 bars on the illest beat and make you dougie if you allow it. Imagine what legal documents we could write to protect ourselves from racial profiling if Lil Wayne rapped about constitutional amendments or what bills lay on the docket.
Hip Hop has always been the black youth’s link to understanding their place inside a world that controls us. Our experience need to be spoken out loud, with more than one person to confirm as a community that the Black experience needs to change. Even the first mainstream song, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, testified the reality of poverty: “So afterschool/ I took a dip in a pool/ which was really on the wall”. The conversations Hip Hop used to have with us sounds weak on the radio now. Although Hip Hop has expanded, our head-nods forget to think about the black youth’s chalk lined absence in society. The reason why adults sigh when they think about the future is connected to the way our generation imitates one form of “Hip Hop.” They can’t see how we know anything about the “real world” when most of us can’t think beyond the newest dance. The popular songs we listen to and the videos we watch are a part of our daily routines and their effects show in our concerns. I have never heard Soulja Boy and Lil Wayne express a position about Sean Bell or Derrion Albert. The fact that black youth’s largest influences would rather contribute their poetry to making us pointless is problematic for our people as a whole. “Hip Hop” has a deep educational relationship to black youth because it is used by the media to show us how to be Black.
Don’t trip because deep beneath the modern surface of Hip Hop lies the emcees equipped with rhymes that reveal and inspire thought. Last year Dead Prez and DJ Green Lantern released their mixtape Pulse of the People with an album cover showing kids playing around a boom box. The first song, “Running Wild” relates to the cover as it expresses the belief that youth and Hip Hop culture are the hope for a new black experience. In verse two Dead Prez create the avatar of an extraordinary black youth; it recognizes that the minds of young adults are fresh enough to “move mountains.” We are young, we have no bills to pay and have nothing to lose, so to hear someone else’s anger about the same struggle we know should push us to be political. Hip Hop gives Black youth the energy we need to say no to racist policies or exclusionary doctrines of the Constitution; it will not let our submission to low social positions be hidden under mainstream culture. The political is Hip Hop so open your ears…