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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hip-Hop, Can't, Won't, Don't Stop

By 3rd Way

How absurd is it that some blame our city's problems on a music genre?

Take alcoholism, and other drug abuse, out of the equation and problems like what happened at a street festival this past weekend disappear. Just as it shouldn't be culturally acceptable to promote criminality on the radio it shouldn't be culturally acceptable for local radio stations encourage people to call into the station sponsored drunk dial line or have radio personalities ramble on about their weekend drunken escapades.

The fact that some drunken idiots with a proclivity towards violence also like a certain type of (usually bad) music is not evidence of a culture in decline. When the creative impulse that spawns innovative artistic expression disappears from our culture I will consider the culture in decline.

Hip hop is a uniquely American artform that has spread across the globe and brought together people from many different cultures and many different backgrounds. There are certainly loathsome aspects of hip hop culture that have been successfully exploited for commercial gain, but the pure artform of rhyming over a beat is not the problem. Focus on the real problems and leave an urban art form that reflects the problems of the urban condition out of the argument.

The attached photo is from a hip hop show earlier this year in Riverwest. The young people in the photo could represent a demographic cross section of Milwaukee. Only hip hop can bring together such a diverse group of young Milwaukeeans. In a society where divisive forces are constantly pulling us apart and pitting us against each other an art form capable of bringing people together should be celebrated, not derided.

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