Will Hip Hop Ever
Demand Respect ?

I gotta give major props to CEO of Vibe Magazine..Keith Clinkscale....During the recently held Sessions Hip hop Convention in Oakland, California..Clinkscale spoke to the attendees about the current state of hip hop and he made a very interesting observation. He noted that the hip hop community rarely extracts penalties from those who malign or misrepresent this art form. In others words rarely do we as hip hop headz hand down punishments to those who try to dis...

If you stop to think about it.. this observation brings to light one of the hip hop community's most glaring ironies... There are so many people especially rappers who step to the plate and spend a lot of time posturing. Many talk emphatically and aggressively about having lots of 'game' and being true 'playas'... Others talk about their willingness to take anyone out who steps to them wrong and how hard they are... Still others will let you know in a minute that they're all about keepin' it real... We've all heard these words uttered.... 'Yo! son.. if ya step to me wrong.. I'm taking you out'.. 'Yo! kid.. I'm a true playa.. I'm the ultimate hustla.. I got mad skillz and I got mad game that can't be compared'.. 'Yo patna I'm comin' up in the game..I'm keepin' it real.. I'm a true playa for life..' . It's amazing you'll hear all this being spouted yet many of these true playas... gangstas, hustlas and keepin' it real hip hop headz will sit back quietly, turn the other cheek and scratch their headz when some knucklehead journalist or news reporter or uninformed politicians starts putting out false accusations that severely undermines hip hop's accomplishments... As KRS-One once asked 'Why Is That'? Why haven't more people stepped to the plate? Why at an age of tight 'gamemanship' so many ballers are allowing their pockets to be picked and their money to be messed with?

It's sad when you think about it... There are more and more folks involved in hip hop who compare it to the dope/hustlin' game.. There are more and more folks involved in hip hop who insist that one has the responsibility of keeping it real.. They will tell you in a minute there is no room for compromise.. .. When I look at this comparison to hip hop being the new hustling game.. it brings to mind.. a few factors.. In the hustlin' game.. it's important that one be aware of all the ins and outs of the game.. Some one trying to lay down their claim..usually approaches 'illegal business' with a tight crew.. They know their territory.. and everyone has a purpose which is beneficial to the operation... They have lookouts.. runners..enforcers etc.. If the crew is doing business on a higher level... If they are 'mafia like'.. they have lawyers and advisors which are known as the consigliere folks in place who look out for them and make sure the coast is constantly clear... Most importantly these crews protect their business.. They don't sit back and let folks run up in their territory and break up their operation.. They don't sit back and let things get taken from them.. Folks are real quick to take out their enemies.. It's the way of the streets.. It's all about keeping it real... Or so they say..

So what happened to all these street smarts within hip hop? How come so many of us who have 'mad skillz' and lots of 'game' are gettin taking for a ride everyday.. In an industry that has been so accurately described by KRS-One as a 'pimp and ho' system why are so many of us who come from neighborhoods where hip hop is being created... on the 'ho' side of this industry? The scenario often reads like this.. you have artist who are being ripped off because they signed lopsided contracts with record labels... They bring to the table all the talent, their community and creative skillz yet they only collect something like 10% if its a good deal... Adding insult to injury.. these 'street smart' artists must repay the record company for all the promotional expenses.. which includes free shows, fly away dinners for key djs around the country.. posters.. snipes.. free gear etc.. before they collect their 10 percent...If these street smart artist sign your typical recording contract.. they may even find themselves in a situation where the record label starts dictating to them what sort of song to put out for the consumer and when.. The ultimate insult comes when hip hop is being attacked by folks in high places... and the the record company [pimp] does very little to help turn the tide... If that's not a pimp and ho system than what is?

Let's compare the scenes.. The street pimp tells the ho where to walk and what to wear.. The record company tells the artists what song to release and when...The pimp demands that his ho be attractive to potential customers.. this includes having sexy gear and keeping her private parts free of disease... The record company insists on fostering a certain image of an artist.. This manufactured image is all designed to net the record company money. If the 'ho' refuses to do what her pimp says.. she'll get a beat down... If the rap artists refuses to do what his label wants.. he'll be economically beat down.. His records won't be promoted or even released.. You won't find a whole lot of promotion behind it..in fact you may not be able to find any of his material in the stores....

Now the 'ho walks the streets and provides her services to a John.. who then pays her.. She comes back and gives all her money to the pimp who then may give her a couple of bills to tide her over... The rap artist goes into a studio and drops some funky verses over a track which excites a listener who then goes out and purchases the material.. After spending 10 bucks on a tape or CD.. the artist will get a dollar allowance from the record company..while they keep the rest... When law enforcement decides to clamp down on prostitution, the street pimp is not sitting in front of the city council and other law makers trying to change the conditions or even legalize the world's oldest profession... Heck if they try and get rid of prostitution the pimp will engage himself in some other line of illegal business. When Bob Dole and other political types attack hip hop and help lead the charge to ban it.. many record executives turn the other cheek and in some cases will give into the pressure. If hip hop becomes to uncomfortable, these record companies start backing another music genre..

Finally once the street 'ho' realizes she's being pimped and exploited she may try to posse up with other 'hos'.. After all there is strength in numbers.. She'll try to fight for better work conditions.. and even for the legalization of her profession.. She'll insist upon certain standards regulating her profession and basically she attempts to lay down the groundwork that will insure her getting a fair shake... Unfortunately just as she's getting things started.. here comes another 'ho' who is desperate and ignorant to the system who attempts to undermine the progress made by her older sisters.. She'll do a trick for free.. She'll still give all her money to a pimp.. She'll do other things that will make the profession look bad.. The sad part is she doesn't care cause she's either strung out on drugs or desperately needs money so she's going for hers.. and the hell with everyone else.. The pimp loves this type of individual.. because she allows him to keep his huge unchecked profits flowing in. So he'll encourage her to keep being ignorant to the game.. He'll do things to keep her sidetracked.. Maybe he'll buy her a coat or say some nice things.... But his goal is to keep her darkness so he can continue getting rich..

The rap artists faces the same dilemma.. Just as he gets hip to the game and starts to organize other rap artists so they can collectively approach these record companies and get a fair shake.. Here comes another ignorant brother from the hood who don't give a damn.. He ain't hearing no talk about comin' together 'because someone on the label side said he can't trust other rap artists... If he's from the east coast he's told to hate the west coast.. If he's from the new school he's told to disrespect the old school.. If he's hard-core he's told to look upon everyone else who isn't as a mark to be trampled on.

This new ignorant brother thinks keepin' it real means acting the fool at every given moment.. He thinks keeping it real means conducting an interview while high or drunk.. He thinks keepin it real means having 40 of his homeboys on stage while performing... And he thinks keepin' it real means acting 'ghetto' and living from moment to moment with out no regard for the future.. He's told instant gratification and fame is the name of the game.. The new 'ho' oops I mean artist doesn't hear E-40 when he warns him as he did in the song 'Rapper's Ball' 'not to buy an 85 thousand dollar car before he buys a house..'

Just like the street pimp who warns the new 'hos' not to listen to the words of wisdom from the older 'hos.. The industry big wigs aren't too encouraging to developing the business acumen of new artists. They never really help these new kids coming into the game to mature into artists who will have long lasting careers.. Hence little Johnny who hails from the East side of town is allowed to remain buckwild while he's signed to the label.. Behind the scenes they know Johnny will make them a nice hefty sum... and just as Johnny is ready to reap his own financial rewards.. his career is over and the label is on to the next Johnny Come Lately into the rap game.

You rarely see labels encouraging mentoring from older artists who've learned a few things after being burnt toward younger artist. If anything they may foster competition. This is usually done by highlighting and placating the flava of the month... So just like the street pimp who plays the one 'ho' off the other in both obvious and subtle forms.. the music industry is guilty of playing artists off one another. The bottom line is in the rap game ignorance is bliss for the label head who makes off with a whole lot of loot from artist who've made major mistakes while trying to get their career on point...

The rap game has reached a level where its imperative that we police ourselves and just like Keith Clinkscale suggested ..hold individuals who are messing up the game accountable. This is no different then the hustlin' game. More importantly we within hip hop need to raise our own standards.. We need to at the very least police ourselves.. We need to get our game tight... With so many outside elements raping then attacking hip hop ..how can we can sit back and be caught slippin'?

One way in which all of us can start is by understanding that we are in a business that depends upon the support of a consumer.. We are vying for their attention and ultimately their dollars.. We can do things in a short term sense by highlighting the sex and violence aspect of our industry.. It'll draw some headlines and capture people's attention.. But keep in mind.. all that is short sighted and short term.. Because as we continue to highlight the gangsta mentality we must bear in mind that we bring with it a host of problems.. including high insurance rates for concerts, continued misperceptions of hip hop and a volatile environment and hard-core attitudes which keep a whole lot of folks away... Thus effecting our economic situation.

We got to constantly ask ourselves how is our participation within hip hop going to benefit hip hop? What are we doing both as individuals and as a collective that is going to insure that hip hop is around for a long time? When folks are violating this art form what are doing to check them?

This does not mean we have to run around and try and hand out beat downs to everybody.. because that certainly won't work and all it does is play into all the misperceptions..However, we can make sure that economically we cripple an offensive party by not patronizing their establishments. This means that artists shouldn't be so quick to grant interviews and provide insightful stories to media outlets that are constantly dissin'. We need to use our power to bring attention to and to spotlight those outlets that are putting out an accurate and positive twist on hip hop. .. It amazes me how I'll hear artist complain about certain publications and then they'll turn around and bring their entire fan base to that operation by granting an interview... It's amazing how artists will spend a lot of time and energy bringing attention to someone who is a 'powerless' peer who needs to be dissed.. But we won't spend a lot of time bringin' up those within hip hop we should gravitating towards..

Even on a street level... the hustla gives out free product to get you hooked.. He takes a friendly approach so you'll be coming back to him again and again... So what happened to this street mentality within hip hop.. ? Why haven't those who create and those who have so much at stake not created an environment that will have folks wanting to come back again again.. ? Why are so many consumers dissatisfied with the live presentations we have of hip hop...? Why are so many afraid to go check things out? The answer is simple.. hip hop has been contaminated on many levels.... And very few have stepped up and demanded things be cleaned up...

Going back to Keith Clinkscales observation... in which he noted that Hip Hop doesn't demand its respect or hold its critics accountable is a problem that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.. Hip Hop is now the whipping boy for politicians and anyone else who wants to make headlines.. It's also the testing grounds for censorship laws.. and its the litmus test for those who wish to make some points on issues of morality... The biggest insult comes from those who are outside the hip hop arena who use their power and influence to define and set the tone for hip hop? If we don't stand up for hip hop we deserve to be trampled on..The hip hop nation has got to demand its respect.. A lot of us within hip hop are no longer 18 years old.. Many of us are 30+ meaning that we are firmly established in the realm of adulthood..Hence its time for hip hop to be responsible and stand on its own two feet and protect itself..

Go Back To Hip Hop Article Directory

Go Back To Davey D Home Page