For the past few days, hip hop fans have seen the newspaper do a study on gangs here in the CSRA. We feel the need to protect hip hop from this type of "abuse," if you will.
We say that because we love hip hop. It's the thing that has kept us going, and it's a lifestyle that many live and others try to imitate. The attraction to hip hop is that no matter how you look, where you are from, your race, age or whatever - hip hop embraces it. Hip hop doesn't discriminate or exclude as long as you respect the principles. Hip hop has no boundary lines. It even crosses music genres. No other collective group has that distinction from within.
WHY ALL THAT? Hip hop has been blamed for perpetuating negative images - degradation of women, glamorizing money, foul language etc. We agree hip hop is sometimes over the top, but so was rock 'n' roll. We sometimes have a problem with certain songs, as do others, but we feel overexposure to these videos and images in the media is the problem. It's too much to have a child watch videos for hours a day and not expect them to pick up some bad habits. In that case, a parent has to take over.
Limiting what hip hop has to say won't make problems dwindle. Taking out words in a song won't keep violence from happening in certain neighborhoods, such as the ones pointed out in the newspaper. Neither radio nor any other media outlet can take away the problems we all will face.
The articles said the FBI's and the state's definition of a gang is a group of three or more people from a certain area committing a crime or crimes. The strange part is that they identify these individuals by dress, which is totally unfair. At a time when teens and 'tweens are finding themselves and trying to fit in, the first thing they do is dress accordingly. We wear do-rags and turn our hats backward, too.
MANY TIMES, things such as dress, language, etc. are lost in translation. When can we get back to when you go by what a man does - his actions - and not what he says or wears? Our inner cities have no positive outlets for the children living in them. Funding has been cut, and it seems that no one cares. They live usually just above or below the poverty line, and turn to crime just to survive.
Don't get me wrong - responsibility has to be taken by those living in the inner city, but it seems that one unfair administrative move after another really takes away hope.
While I appreciated the series of articles, I just think it had a narrow definition to all that was applied to because it seemed to only affect minorities. Hip hop is a reflection of what happens in those 'hoods. Art imitates life. Where there is no life, there is no art.
(Editor's note: The writer teams with KJ Kydd Joe as The Kutt Boyz, evening radio personalities on Martinez hip hop and R&B station WPRW-FM (107.7).)