Do you listen to hip hop or rap music?
If you browse the internet for hip hop/rap music criticisms, you’ll find those kinds of descriptions among other negative reviews.
But if you dig a little deeper, just search a little bit harder, you can find sites such as 2dopeboyz.com, or AllHipHop.com that show more than just what and who stands on the forefront of hip hop. Sites like these give the artists who are in the shadows of the mainstream the proper attention and respect they deserve for their work. What a lot of people do not realize is that hip hop/rap music is a very broad genre and is often considered as an art form.
As an artist and advocate for hip hop/rap music, I’ve not only seen other rappers be subjected to the standard rapper stereotype but I have been in their position. A lot of people envision rappers as these “thugs” and violent kind of people, but that’s not always the case.
The genre has taken many different turns since its creation in the mid to late 70s, but there has always been an underlying difference between its mainstream culture and the underground. The latter being the kind of hip hop that doesn’t see much light in oppose to the mainstream, which is consistently under fire by conservative politicians and protective parents. As of recently the difference has been a little blurred, because a lot of underground artists are successfully getting their names in the spotlight, and with them being in the spotlight the underground has become the mainstream. Artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Earl Sweatshirt (of OFWGKTA), and many others were all the artists that people downplayed when their name was first spoken; not only because they were socially conscious of what was going on around them but their lyricism and subject matter played a part in their initial exile and sudden uprise as well.
An artist I’d like to focus on is fairly new to the scene, only getting his name out within the past few years, Kevin Gates. Upon first glance, Kevin Gates probably wouldn’t be the guy you would let take your daughter on a date, or even have conversation with. Even I wouldn’t blame you. But that kind of thinking is what creates the stereotype that so many of us artists have to deal with.
In this video, Gates sits down with NPR (yes, National Public Radio had an interview with a “gangster”) and shows the world who he is behind the lyrics.
If you didn’t catch it I used a clip from the video in the PSA, where Kevin Gates says “..some people’s outlet may be working out, or that’s how they relieve stress or whatever, so the way I vent, I vent to the microphone.” This stood out to me the most because not only can you hear it in his music but this interview helped show the world that even if it is “gangster” or violent, it’s not always glorification, it’s self expression. That’s why hip hop/rap music is an art.
Former NWA member Ice Cube with AK47. Digital image. With Friendship. N.p., 31 May 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <https://www.withfriendship.com/user/servex/Gangsta-rap.php>
Friedersdorf, Conor. “When Conservatives Try to Talk About Rap.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic, 13 Jan. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/when-conservatives-try-to-talk-about-rap/272718/>.
“Kevin Gates: ‘I Put All My Flaws on Front Street'” NPR Music. 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://www.npr.org/event/music/290200206/kevin-gates-i-put-all-my-flaws-on-front-street>.
Mumbi Moody, Nekesa. “New Rap Problem: Criticism from Within.” USA Today. The Associated Press, 28 Feb. 2007. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/music/2007-02-28-47380438_x.htm>.