While perusing the internet yesterday I managed to stumble upon this gem of a story. It’s about teachers using hip-hop as a tool to teach their students the fundamentals of science. I must say that I couldn’t have seen this video at a better time on a better day. After being told I shouldn’t write or share posts about “rap” music because of its negative connotation during a conversation I had with a very significant family member earlier in the day, I managed to find a video that displays hip-hop in a positive light. Given all of the negative rap lyrics that spew from the mouths of many current purveyors of the genre, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air to see it being used as an instrument for good. And while I can understand the reasoning behind certain people’s apprehensiveness toward hip-hop, I still appreciate the genre for its creativity and its ability to make a lasting impact on people.
People tend to forget that since its inception in the 80’s, hip-hop has always been a tool of expression, storytelling, and nostalgia. But where rap got its bad rap isn’t from the street corner ciphers, the boogie down Bronx block parties, or the poetic tales of black youth. It got its negative image from the vulgarity in the language, the excessive misogyny, and the hyper-sexualized and at times ultra violent images in its audio and visual representations. But, the problem so many viewers and listeners fail to understand is that Hip-Hop portrays realities. And whether those realities are caricatures (fictional) or biographical (real), every rapper is an artist in his or her own right. From vividly painting the experience of being a young black male in Compton on “…a good day” of a 1993 summer, to personifying a favorite art in an evolutionary tale of a maturing muse undergoing various trials and tribulations throughout H.E.R. life, Hip-Hop has always had the ability to take us places we’ve never been and teach us things we never imagined.
Hip-Hop is so powerful and can be used for such great things that it is a shame so many members of the older generation avoid its messages. But, a lucky few youths in New York City, are actually learning through the art of rhyme. I wish I would have had the opportunity these kids have when I was in grade school. When I was growing up, most of the music played in my household was rhythm and blues, 80’s pop, or jazz. My most fond memory, or what I call my intro to Hip-Hop, occurred during a 1990’s summer visit to North Carolina. At a family cookout, an older friend of the family put a tape in the tape deck and the first sound I heard was, “Wooooh ooh ooh” being harmonized by a young female who I would later discover was rapper/songstress Lauryn Hill, followed by a bass drop and a verse from an artist whose name I would later discover was prolific hip-hop artist Nas. The song was titled, “If I Ruled The World“. With Nas’ rhymes of hypothetical world domination and the actions he would take preceding it, I loved what I was hearing, I wanted more, and I have been hooked on the boom bap and the intricate cadences of hip-hop ever since.
So, what I have to say to those giving rap a bad rap is: WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW and see how hip-hop can positively influence lives.