Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Tony Grands
Last weekend, BET hosted another awards show. Honestly, it seems like they hand out awards at least three times a year. Or it could just feel like that because I never watch them.
The last awards show that I took seriously was The Source Awards – shout out to Sticky Fingaz – & only God (& Google) knows how long ago that was. Sometimes I feel like I’m biased against people winning awards because I’m the only adult in America who has never won a trophy, but then I remember that I don’t care, & that’s why I don’t watch. Being recognized for your actual, Jehovah-assigned talents is a luxury that many folks can’t afford, even when they’ve earned it.
Among all the other grandiose, Hip Hop inspired activities of the night, the most notable – by far – were all the acts of hostility that went on behind the scenes. There were scuffles between Rick Ross & Young Jeezy, 50 Cent & Puffy Combs, & the infamous fight between Ross’ swatstika rocking, cocaine-promoting henchman, Gunplay & some of 50 Cent’s cronies. I can’t tell you who won what (still today), but I knew that some major rap beef had been put in a roasting pan & began to simmer.
These men (& other rappers who act similarly) have been openly condemned for their lack of professional restraint, but should we expect better from them? Do any of these rich, young, popular dudes owe us anything?
Rap music is a perpetual bad advice machine. (Pray for the kids who have no one to tell them that.) Getting upset with rap niggas simply for doing rap nigga shit is redundancy, lunacy, like trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents on more than one occasion. Take any handful of currently “hot” tracks & it’s all the same blood boiling, shit-talking, virtual chest thumping music. The beats are different, as are the words, but somehow, it’s still the same song. Sometimes, entire albums are dedicated to nothing but various threats of outlandish violence to no one in particular, as if that jettisoned energy can’t or won’t richochet or doubleback like a boomerang. Add the internet to the mix, & you have the perfect platform for continuous conflict facilitation. All you’d need then are two men who don’t like each other.
Hip Hop culture (but more specifically, rap music) is at a point of wilderness meets the jungle. See, back when record labels invested in their artists, best believe measures & provisions
& security guards were put in place to make sure the rappers didn’t kill each other (before they finished paying their advance back). Once the labels became less important, rappers – from nerdy skateboarders to legitimate drug salesmen – gained free roam of the field, so to speak. Free to chase their dreams, follow their hearts, & terrorize one other. Preferably in that order, for entertainment purposes. With no one to wrangle them into their proverbial bins, all hell is & has been breaking out in the rap game industry. & this isn’t to imply that the culture needs a babysitter or overseer, but a chaperone can’t hurt, especially now that cats are fist-fighting & shooting each other.
As for the BET Hip Hop Awards, nobody got shot or seriously injured. & contrary to the sentiments of the shared Hip Hop community, that’s a good thing. But I’m watching next year, that’s for damn sure.
Words by Tony Grands