|Meade Adams is a pastor, author, poet, and
music lover who hails from our nations capitol.
We’re glad to introduce a new series entitled “Why We need Hip-Hop.” In this First installment we are blessed to sit at the feet of a gifted young author,
few musical styles that have dominated and influenced popular culture in the
last 30 years more than Hip-Hop. It can be found blasting in stereos from New
York to California. Its rhythms and bass lines can be heard from urban clubs in
Japan to the bush in Africa. It’s everywhere; and it’s not going anywhere
Hip-Hop is not primarily meant for Japan, Africa or Europe. Hip-Hop is American
music. It is black music. As Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) pointed out on
Ice-T’s documentary Something From
Nothing: The Art of Rap, Hip-Hop was not meant to be “pop” music…it was folk music. Something
original that came from the people for the people. It is urban poetry. Just
as the Blues represented the oppression of the Mississippi delta and voiced its
pain and bellows through the medium of “field poetry”, Hip-Hop represents the
plight of inner-city African-Americans post-Civil Rights. It is street poetry. It
was the angry voice of a group left to rot in the slums of New York after the
lofty promises of the Civil Rights Movement.
the edge/ I’m trying not to lose my head/ It’s like a jungle/ sometimes it
makes me wonder/ how I keep from going under…”. This “concrete jungle” was the
birthplace of Hip-Hop. Some ask, “Why is Hip-Hop so gritty? Why is it so
angry?” Those who ask this question should be told to go visit the Bronx, and
the housing projects of Brooklyn and Queens and they will have their answer. It
is amazing to me that in the midst of such drastic conditions that these young
black men expressed their ideas and rage through the medium of art and music.
This music gave a voice to the voiceless. It was the artistic outlet of a
|Hip-Hop is the world’s original music
because it is the voice of the oppressed.
In my opinion, Hip-Hop is the
world’s original music. At its innermost core it is comprised of the spoken
word over the drum. This is the language of ancient African griots that recited
hundreds of years of history with only the drum for accompaniment. It is the
language of the Native American tribes that gathered together around the sacred
drum to pass the stories of their people down to their children and
grandchildren. Hip-Hop carries on this ancient tradition because at its best,
it is storytelling. It tells the stories of the people (where they are) and
captures the dreams of where they want to go.
is not just music, but it encompasses other cultural elements. It has its own
language, clothing style, dance and art. It is graffiti, beat-boxing,
break-dancing, DJ-ing and emceeing. It is a culture. Some criticize it for its
glorification of “broken English” or “Ebonics”. What these critics fail to
realize is that Ebonics does in fact have links to authentic African languages.
It is the “code” that slaves spoke when they wanted to speak openly in front of
the master. It is our Swahili. It is our patwa.
and brown boys and girls trying to find their niche in the world. For those
brave enough to take up the mic or the pen and the pad, they have found it to
be their closest friend. It has been a companion that understands exactly what
they’re going through. It’s been there for them, and it allows them to express
themselves through this powerful medium.
the world be without Hip-Hop? Some may say it would be better off. In truth,
there is a sense in which Hip-Hop has lost its way. But it will be back. In
order for a tree to grow, a seed has to first fall to the ground and die. Nas
told us years back that “Hip-Hop is Dead.” If this is true, then it is only
temporary. Sometimes death is necessary in order to achieve new life. This new
life manifests itself in the promise of new and old artists that understand the
history and the power of the art like Lupe Fiasco, Kendrick Lamar, Common, Nas,
Kanye West, and countless others that have not gained mainstream recognition.
world be without Hip-Hop? It is an empty question, for Hip-Hop is here, and is
here to stay.