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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hip Hop & Drug Culture

We make excuses for the negative impact of rap music because it has given so many young black males a way out of the hood; but for every ONE that it gives an exit, it entraps thousands more.

Hip Hop is one of the biggest platforms black people have. It is a way that popular thought and beliefs are disseminated throughout our own community, whether it’s fashion, dance, ethics or the notion that it’s ok to “eat the booty like groceries” (Thanks Kevin Gates!).

As clever as that argument is, it neglects the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t also go into TV and radio interviews claiming to really be a Cyborg from the future. In an attempt to justify the destructive messages oversaturating today’s rap music, this argument overlooks the fact that in comparable artforms, there is a clear delineation between the art and the artist.

Only in hip hop do we criticize the “actor” for not living the role. No film critic has ever questioned a Schwarzenegger performance because his on screen character didn’t exactly mirror his real life persona, but this is the logic we apply to rap music. Whether Rick Ross was ever employed as a CO should have no bearing on his ability to create great records. Whether an artist sold dope, is really from the hood, or has ever shot someone shouldn’t impact the perceived quality of their music.

 The music industry has always been an expensive endeavor. In its formative years the barrier to entry was on the production side. The cost of creating a demo (Beats, Studio Time, Mixing, Mastering, etc) priced many aspiring artist out of the market.

This infusion of artists with “money to blow” coupled with declining production cost created the perfect storm. There was simply too much music. Everyone had a single, album or mixtape. This totally redefined the structure of the music industry. The barrier to entry was pushed from simply producing product to getting that product heard.

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