Whenever January rolls around, I find myself reflecting on the past and wondering about the future. I look at the culture that raised me and I wonder what changes it will endure in the coming year. These days, I see Hip-Hop as a house fallen. Beneath the decay and damage lies a beautiful structure on a sturdy foundation, yet its keepers have let it fall to such disrepair. It is increasingly becoming the ugly house in a good neighborhood; a heaven for miscreants. It has happened because we, the lost tribe of Shabazz, have not been protective enough of our American born child, Hip-Hop.
To see evidence of our neglectful parenting, one only has to look at the antics of a little girl named V-Nasty. She’s a 22 year old white rapper from the Bay Area (Birthplace of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) who lets the word nigga escape her lips as freely as her Black counterparts. When checked on it by the irrepressible David Banner on his riotous anthem “Swag,” she responded by openly questioning his street credibility on the song “Food Club” from the album BATYL, an album made in collaboration with Gucci Mane. It arrived months after Mr Fab defended V-Nasty’s use of the N-Bomb. Instead of rallying around him in a show of solidarity, Banner’s brethren offer aid and comfort to the enemy.
I find the fact that certain whites now feel entitlement to the word nigga to be sheer lunacy. Loonier still, is the notion that certain Black people’s reckless use of the word somehow validates that entitlement. We have not set down any house rules regarding our culture. Hip-Hop has become an insane asylum with a revolving door where security gates should be. Any and all are allowed admittance, and all forms of behavior are permitted. They come and go as they please, doing so with our collective blessing.
That is certainly not a sign of culture. No culture can exist without rules and regulations. Of course, those rules shouldn’t be so rigid that they stifle growth. However, clear boundaries should be set. Certain lines should not be crossed. Even street gangs, which could be considered an absolute perversion of the American family unit, have initiation rights to screen prospects and weed out undesirables. In order to become a Blood, one has to be “jumped in” by other members of the set he hopes to join. Once he joins, there are rules to follow. A line has to be towed.
Hip-Hop is not an exclusive country club. White people can and have been an important part of it. The consumer base of rap music has been largely white for decades. Rick Rubin was the first producer to allow the boom of the Roland 808 kick drum to extend into full distortion. That sound is now beloved by Black folks the world over. Such contributions are treasured and have been acknowledged. However, that does not give white fans and artists the rights to our very soul. Certain things are off limits. If that’s a double standard then so be it. I invite you to sit at my table and eat my food, but you will respect my house. A dinner invitation does not allow you to ape my every behavior.
On his routine “Black Hollywood” from his classic comedy album Bicentennial Nigger, Richard Pryor said “White people already know about pimping, because we’re (Black people) the biggest hoes they got.” Pimps refer to the prostitutes under their employ by many names, none of them flattering. They do so casually because they do not regard them as equals. V-Nasty refers to us as Niggas. When one of us checks her, she digs her heels in and fires back without fear of reprisal. Not only is there no uproar, but some of us even come to her defense. All the while, she garners money and fame while exploiting something that said “niggas” created. What do you think that she, and other white rappers with her mindset, thinks of us? Does she see us as equals? Should such a person be allowed to sit at our table and partake of the feast that we’ve prepared? In 2012, I hope and pray that we prove Richard Pryor’s notion wrong.
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