by Adissa Banjoko...5/20/02
With Hip Hop Appreciation Week's theme this year being "Gratitude", I would like to send out my gratitude to the women of the world, and especially the Black women here in America, who have endured much lyrical, physical and spiritual pain in the Hip Hop realm. I would like to send out my gratitude to the ancestors of all races and religions who tried to instill true family values in their children. Because today, many of the people within Hip Hop are actively hating on the idea marriage and family. I'm concerned that this trend will come back to haunt us in the years to come.
Many of the "men" in the Hip Hop community are actively shooting down real concepts of family. Too many of them are trying to be "playas", "pimps", and "G's".
In many respects, young men will always be young men. In America, usually the years between 18-25 are spent chasing women. But, hopefully, if we have any sense as men, we wise up to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood.
Most "men" think that by "kicking tricks to the curb", that they are maintaining independence. They feel as though it's better to be a "baby daddy", than to be a real husband and father. In reality though, this new wave of attacks on the family structure in Hip Hop is an indirect attack on God, and our cultural traditions. I'm not just speaking to Black people here either. Whatever race, or religion you are, there most likely exists a cultural foundation and spiritual blueprint for creating a family. To undermine that, is to undermine the two core things that brought you into existence.
Many people today think of marriage as a government thing. In reality, it's not. It's a spiritual thing. Marriage is a testament before God thing. And to attack it, is to attack a super sacred institution. Family is the foundation of all true civilization. To be truly without it, is to be truly lost in the world.
In Hip Hop, we TALK family, but we don't mean it. We share hollow hugs and pounds, we flash false peace signs and give high five's, but we are not serious about family. Before you write me off lets look at some lyrics today, and think about their long term implications.
Fat Joe and R. Kelly's "We Thuggin" Joey Crack says " F!@# a bitch if she act to grown/ I don't need that shit, I got my wife at home." This song gets rotation in the Bay almost hourly. What can we expect the kids who are 11, 12, 13 right now to be like growin up on music that encourages this type of mind set?
In another song "One Minute Man" by Missy feat. Jay Z Jay says "The d!@# too chubby, too much'll make you love me/ Now be a nice wifey and run home to your hubby/ Cause we, both knowin' what we doin is wrong/ Don't forget to put your ring back on." Again, this song gets major rotation.
Yet again Mobb Deep and 112 speak in the same vein saying "He expect to keep you locked with that five karat ring? Let's cop that old real while 112 sing." These lyrics are of special note, because they look to disregard the symbol of what's real. The ring is only a symbol of the never ending love between a man and a woman. It is not meant to keep one "locked down" but rather it is a symbol meant to keep one's heart locked into love with God, and their spouse.
But to even suggest that these things are wrong, is seen as foolish. Ja Rule says in the track "Always on Time", to let her girl friends who might tell her that their relationship is improper to "Remind these b!@#s to mind they business/ Believe me, this pimp game is very religious." Notice that he compared the "pimp game" to religion! We should have more respect for ourselves and Black people and as a Hip Hop community to not see the danger in these kinds of ideas circulating within our community.
On another Ja Rule song, "Between Me and You " he says "Let me handle my biz, it is what it is/ N!##@ livin his life, and that's my b!@#/ You know I gotta wife, let's keep this thing tight, baby." Notice he says "it is what it is". What it is, is adultery. I don't believe there is an organized religion, or cultural tradition that encourages this type of behavior.
My last point will be made with Method Man's Grammy award winning " All I Need" with Mary J. He states that he wants her "In a fat ass crib with thousands of kids/ Word life you don't need a ring to be my wife/ Just be there for me I'm a make sure we/ Be livin in the f!@#'ing lap of luxury." This line is especially slick, as it tries to lure the women into having "thousands of kids", under the idea of being in a "fat ass crib".
But what happens when the man decides to bounce? What happens when she is left alone with those "thousands of kids"? I'll tell you what happens. We end up with the poor family structure we have in the poor Black, Latino and White communities in America. We end up with songs like "That's Just My Baby's Daddy". By negating the cultural and spiritual paths that lead us to monogamous relationships, we are further fracturing the family structure in America. Some of you might say "You can't blame Hip Hop for poor family structure in America." I agree. But if Hip Hop is the art we SAY it is. If Hip Hop is as REVOLUTIONARY, as we claim it is...Then we should take on these tasks of rebuilding family structure beyond one "click", "set" or "crew".
All of this business about men not being able to trust women is foolish. God created us for one another. And you bitter females out there need to chill and not turn away every brother you see because he does not have the jewelry or car you want to ride in. If you find yourself around a lot of untrustworthy people, then you yourself, are probably not trustworthy. If all you look for in a mate is material things, then you'll probably find yourself alone.
We in the Hip Hop community have to learn to respect true love again. If we don't, we can only expect harder times ahead for our community specifically, and this nation as a whole.
I saw a 10 year old girl I know about two years ago watching a Snoop video with her mom, and her mom's friend. The mother turned one of her adult friends looking at Snoop and told her "ooh, that N!##@ right there, that's my baby daddy." The friend responded that she wanted Snoop to be HER baby daddy and they had a play argument over it. The lady's daughter, looking to get on the conversation pointed to Dr. Dre. and said "Oh no, that's MY BABY DADDY." Imagine the horror. This little girl is growing up not even conceiving the IDEA of a real family. She's not even seeing the value being unified with a man spiritually and culturally. Both she and her mother would benefit from reading books like "The Miseducation of the Black Child" by Dr. Nathan Hare and Dr. Julia Hare. They needs to read books like "Black Men: Single Dangerous Obsolete" by Haki Madhubuti.Both books are a must for young men and women of all races and religions. We need to unlearn what we have learned about the value of family and relearn how to love ourselves and one another.
We need to enrich our children with songs that embrace family concepts. Songs like Common's "Retrospect for Life" where he says "We talkin spendin the rest of our lives/ It's too many Black women that can say they mothers but can't say that they wives/ I wouldn't chose any other to mother my understanding/But I want our Parenthood to come from Planning"...Why don't lyrics like these get more rotation? Is it because most of the people who dictate what gets played are usually white males over 40 years of age? People who have no care for our kids or community?
KRS-One's "Brown Skin Woman" is another song, big with beats and rhymes filled with respect for family that never gets played. In that one he says most rappers "Talk bout they want to sex up and fill up you body/ But them NOT talk about peelin off some money/ for the pumpin onna bed, when you have the baby/Whatta'ya think can happen next?/ After you're done havin sex?/ Too much of ignorance, not enough intellence/ Me me NOT against sex, but too many DJ/ Talk sex but them not talk about the next day/Cause the next day them gone, and you sit alone..."
This was only one girl I saw with her mother. But little girls like her are all over the country. Some day soon, we will be the ancestors of a people walking the earth. The values we give them today will determine the greatness they achieve tomorrow. This tradition is NOT healthy, it does not help us as a community and I pray that we will show gratitude to our ancestors and our spiritual path, by redeeming what it means to be a family in Hip Hop. This article is dedicated to my mother, father, wife and my children all who showed me the true value of family.written by Adissa Banjoko The Bishop of Hip Hop
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