Growing up, my parents were the types who fell for the propaganda that hip hop is corrupting our youth. It was the 90s. From their perspective, it was not music for children. I was banned from listening to hip hop radio stations and watching music videos. MTV, BET and The Box (remember that?) were all off limits until I was a teenager. As a result, I have always felt on the fringe of hip hop culture, and when I got old enough to make my own music choices they were heavily influenced by what was in the mainstream, and not necessarily what I knew was good, real, or worth listening to.
This past summer I stumbled across and read Coming of Age with Hip-Hop, a truly thoughtful commentary on hip hop music in which the author closely reads what he deems the top three hip hop albums of 1993: Snoop Dogg's Doggy Style, Wu-Tang’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders. Clearly the author's writing comes from a place of love. The same way in which I explore blackness, womanliness and dance with scrutiny, integrity and thorough complexity, the author tackles blackness, masculinity and hip hop music. It seems the author and I share an interest in explicating and revealing to others those salient points that might be missed without a close look. Through both critical explication and relating it to personal experiences (which really serves as a case study for the actual effects of hip hop on black youth, as opposed to those perceived) the article illuminates the depth and significance of hip hop music in a very REAL way. A way that academia needs to document, the media needs to recognize, our parents need to read.
Since there was little to no hip hop in our house, I grew up on the R&B, funk and soul music of the '70s and '80s that my parents love. After this article I got to thinking, what have been the effects of soul music on this black woman as she grew up?
Gimme a couple days and I'll answer that one for you. But for now, what's your relationship to hip hop? How has it shaped you (or not)? Has it given you a voice? Or has it just run parallel to your life?