Hip Hop: A Fatherz View #1
Ever heard the term, “Google it?” Sure you have. It’s a pretty common epigram in today’s age of instantaneous information gratification. Even more than a term, ‘Googling It’ has become its own endeavor. From the school aged inquiry to the scholarly work of a researcher, Googling information has become a common practice to obtain quick and verifiable information. Thusly, why wouldn’t I, almost without thought, have told my seven year old to “Google it,” when she asked me, with a seven year old’s inquisitive mind, “Dad, what is Hip Hop?” In one sense it was an attempt to encourage my little one to become more computer/tech savvy. Her generation will be much more technologically inclined than those that preceded hers, after all. But in another, more bleak sense of things, I question myself and wonder if my actions were the product of a socio-economic conditioning to rely on a power structure perpetuated by a ruling class whose greatest profits are generated by the pounds of flesh ripped away from the bodies of the poor and disenfranchised.
In hindsight, I should be ashamed of myself. Me, an organic and naturally cultivated product of the phenomenon that is Hip Hop, asking my own spawn to rely on a component
of ‘the Big Brother matrix circa 1984’ to identify and define the fabric that makes me a Hip Hop Father and her a progeny of Hip Hop. Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, no less, not far from the very same Cedar Park that is Ground Zero of the Hip Hop movement. Even to confine it within the term of a movement is shortsighted, a byproduct of compartmentalizing of Western Societal thinking. With that kind of subscription, everything must fit in its place. But how can something that is at the same time malleable yet intangible fit into a place?
Hip Hop is an existence. It is a culture, obviously, but even within the culture there are so many intricacies of expression that it goes beyond the compartment of a culture. Hip Hop is a state of being. It is pushing through the minutia of daily living with a beat and theme music with a tempo that matches the pulse of the city where it originated. Yet, it is the philosophy of life that transcends geographical boundaries. What Hip Hop is not is stationary. It goes on, and on, and on, like a ripple in the time and space continuum. Hip Hop cannot easily be defined because it can never be confined. Hip Hop is transcendent; it can’t be placed in a box and be defined succinctly by some search engine like Google.
I tried to relay this to my seven year old but all she wanted was to listen to Kidz Bop. I don’t know if that’s something I should be mad about. Kidz Bop is all well and good when I’m spinning at a birthday party for one of my nieces, nephews or Godchildren. But is Kidz Bop another form of appropriation? A sought of white washing of music to delude children? It’s a head scratcher, maybe not even that serious. But, I’m a Father, so I’m sometimes a little hypervigilant when it comes to cultural identifiers. I grew up with a respect for music because music so elegantly tells a story. Whether the most harsh or tender of moments, music reveals the depth and character of the moment. A good song will inspire and motivate. A great song will imprint your life. It can be the theme of your greatest summer or the hymn that prepares you for your greatest battle. Isn’t it only right that the true architect of the mastery of music and lyrics be given their proper credit? One of my comrades who is of the Nation of Gods and Earths thinks Kidz Bop is a government funded faction designed to whitewash urban culture. Hey, after CoIntelPro I don’t put anything past the establishment.
So what I’m going to do is sit my little one down and ask her what she knows about Hip Hop. Then I will explain to her the we, she and I, her mother and sibling, we are all Hip Hop. We are living life unapologetically to a righteous beat. We are working hard through the struggle, glorifying while persevering. Hip Hop is cookouts in grandma’s backyard with your cousins and family vacations. Hip Hop is keeping the faith. Hip Hop is us. Long live Hip Hop.