The last 4 months to many may have been very depressing when it comes to Hip Hop as a culture. Specifically, Hip Hop has been rocked by scandals of the most repugnant kind related to Bam and his legacy to the culture. That wave sent ripples felt by the Zulu Nation and others in particular, like KRSONE. To many, Hip Hop has lost its aura of respectability or something like that. If nothing else, certain songs from our youth, now have a bitter sting to them when played (i.e. Planet Rock). If you don’t know what I’m talking about so far, good. You would have been better off not to go down this road. But for those of us who do know, I’ll continue. Sometimes too much information can change the whole complexion of a thing. In fact, I have been privy to ill situations in Hip Hop that shed unfavorable light on highly respected individuals before. I just never write posts about them.
Although most times, the information may have been first-hand gossip from observers of the ‘offense’, other times I have actually witnessed inappropriate conduct by some of our pioneers. Still, nothing I’ve seen has ever risen to the level of the Bam accusations, but even those rumors have been in circulation for longer than some realize. I first heard of the accusations from one of my connects to the ‘Dark Web’ last summer around this time. This was well before it surfaced on the regular web, and at first I didn’t believe it to be true. Because they seemed like personal gossip, I didn’t invest much thought into it and continued on with my life. Even when the allegations finally emerged into full view this year, it still seemed like too much information and subliminally just another case of people realizing the pioneers are humans after all. While the allegations of sex abuse have cast an undeniable black mark on Bam’s legacy, it shouldn’t erase or negate the positive strides he received credit for before the truth came out.
What Bam is accused of is unforgivable. For that, he will never be able to celebrate his achievements in public again and who knows what misfortunes may befall his life after today. He has become the Akhenaten of Hip Hop Kulture. And though it is very sad, as Hiphoppas we must try to ‘Keep It Real”. From the beginning, we must realize that we always acknowledged the grimy side of life and embraced it as reality. We always realized we were surrounded by pimps, pushers, killers, thieves and liars. Some of our favorite rappers praise street-life, negativity and crime. All of sudden, it seems like people have forgotten where we came from. By pretending that crime is not bad unless it sinks to the level Bam seems to have taken it, is not being truthful. To assume something negative about Hip Hop as a culture because of what people believe Bam did in secret is not keeping it real.Chronologically, if you ever had respect for what Bam did for Hip Hop after the accusations happened in the 1970’s, he already was who he was. Therefore, it is what it is. We all had respect for an abuser.
Right now, people are still in shock. They don’t know how to process what they’ve heard. Hiphoppas get confused and think, “Was everything Bam said ‘evil’?” “Is Hip Hop or the roots of it somehow evil because of this scandal?”
My answer is calm down. Keep it real. Hip Hop has always known that that there are grimy niggas among us. Some of us are related to them. Some of us are them, and if not, we probably did business with him before or shook his hand in passing. If that same grimy nigga was giving you a dime of trees, fixing your flat tire or putting braces on your son’s teeth, at that minute, you either didn’t give a damn that he was grimy or you didn’t know. At some point when somebody’s fixing my flat tire, I don’t want to know his whole life’s story to decide if he’s worthy enough to help me. That’s called too much information or TMI, which is a special phenomenon in the internet age. Today, its easy to know every nook and crevice and dark corner of someone’s life. The task is to keep things in perspective. First, realize everyone has a side that would make you not like them or just see them in a negative light. There is negativity in everyone just like there is positivity in everyone. At the end of the day, we just have to keep it real knowing that they both exist.
Yes, Bam may be a fucked up guy on a certain level because of things he did in the past. However, the thing he helped develop (Hip Hop) is not therefore fucked up because he had something to do with it, just as The Cosby Show and A Different World aren’t bad TV because Bill Cosby had something to do with it. Is Ike Turner’s music whack because he was whooping on Tina Turner? Is Rick James less enjoyable because he was burning women with crack pipes? People must forget about Michael Jackson and those little boys when they hear his music. Are all Woody Allen movies in question now because he married his adopted daughter? No, they aren’t because people who respect the art form separate the two. It’s not just art either. Everyone’s personal life will make them look bad to one degree or another. The story of Bam’s personal life really doesn’t have anything to do with Hip Hop as far as I can see. That is some personal shit that shows him to have a negative side, which I would never have otherwise known, but for the internet.
This story really just serves the fast-food gossip-age mentality of this generation which seeks to destroy foundations just for the sake of being destructive. Pardon me, if I don’t have that same streak of self-destruction. I know a lot of the young rappers have that streak in them, but my inclination is to maintain the foundations and build on to it. If you’re first inclination was to defend Bam because you see him as tied to Hip Hop Kulture, then you were right. Hip Hop should be defended for the good it brings to society and oppressed people. However, Bam is still just a man who may have done things that can’t be defended on a personal level. We have to separate the two. If you think that Hip Hop is somehow diminished because of Bam’s personal life, that is not correct. Deep down, you don’t understand that Hip Hop Kulture is way more important than Bam or KRS or any pioneer or personality. You don’t understand the full scope of Hip Hop or reality and you aren’t keeping it real.