Hip Hop Commentary

Is Hip Hop Relevent?
by Oliver Wang

A few months ago,Minister Farrakhon spoke passionately at the Hip Hop Summit in New York. He told the rap artist in attendence that one song from them is worth a thousand of his speeches. He also asked them to elevate their level of content. He talked about the important role they had as world leaders and that it was important that they read and stay abreast of world affairs. He told them the world is listening to their every word and following their every move. He wanted rap artists to write about the then upcoming UN Race Conference in Durban, South Africa. He wanted them to write about the AIDs epidimic. He also wanted them to write about the conflicts in the middle east. The Minister stayed on this point for a while and hammered it home. Hence when I read the following commentary from Oliver 'O-Dubb' Wang while visting HipHopsite.com I couldn't help but reflect on the Minister's words. Peep what Oliver wrote and hit me back with your thoughts. I think he hit the nail on the head. Drop me a line at mailto:mrdaveyd@aol.com

Words to Ponder From O-Dub

I'd be remiss in talking about hip-hop without first talking about 9-11-01. I know it's now expected to say a few words but since the hip-hop generation has the bad rep of being apolitical in a jiggified era, I wanted to put out a couple of thoughts. The first is that, in the wake of the deaths of thousands, you realize that, in the big scheme of things, hip-hop doesn't mean shit. I don't mean to be harsh about that but for real, what possible relevance could hip-hop - or any work of art for that matter - raise in the wake of this past month's horrific violence and terror? Do we really care about Jay Z and Nas' war of words? Why should I give a fuck about a new Rawkus single? As some of my colleagues pointed out, can you still yell "Fuck the Police!" when you're watching NY's finest digging through thousands of tons of rubble, picking out body parts? I'm not saying that we're all one big happy American family now (hell no) but sometimes, you need to take a step back and realize that some things, really, really, really matter - like the safety of your loved ones and neighbors. And some things don't. Like 99.9% of hip-hop. The latter is a luxury, important to the quality of our lives perhaps but the former is absolute essential to the quality of our humanity.

I know this all sounds very cynical but I'm just pissed off at how remarkably irrelevant hip-hop is to the nation's (let alone world's) affairs. And maybe, down the line, we'll see the resurrection of stuff like H.E.A.L. Hell,, I'd even settle for another Chubb Rock "Stop the War". But what do we really have to talk about? The new Ludacris album? Timbaland's next production project? If there's going to be a sequel to "Ouchie Wallie"? And don't think I'm letting the underground off - this past week has crystallized just how impotent that whole scene has become. Except for a scant few, the majority of the indie community is either painting themselves into a corner with their stubborn insularity or they sound like sore losers because they aren't signed to Def Jam. Ever since hip-hop took over the world, it stopped caring to change it.

Don't get me wrong - I don't expect the return of Public Enemy-type consciousness to flood hip-hop. And in the wake of Aaliyah's death, it's clear that compassion isn't totally inert in the community. But I've officially lost patience - at least for the moment - with mediocrity and if I have to pour out the Hatorade like champagne during a wedding, I'm going to do it. This isn't a Toure-like rant where I'm swearing off hip-hop or even claiming - as many keep doing - that "it's dead". I fully admit, somewhere down the line, hip-hop might just overwhelm me - as it often does these days - and force me into compliance with its state of dullness, happy to just see any artist score above average. But right here, right now? Unless your shit is going to inspire (or at least be a welcome distraction) I'm prepared to make it retire. Now is the time that music and all art should matter, should seek to make a statement, create an effect. And if it doesn't, it's a waste of everyone's time.

The Mad Critic,

Oliver "O-Dub" Wang


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