The concept of Hip Hop History Month is lost on today’s society. There is not enough appreciation for the rich culture and economic opportunities afforded by the existence of Hip Hop to properly celebrate its success or awareness. At this point, modern-day mainstreamers think it’s OK to confuse music taste with respecting the architects of cultural liberation. Liking Public Enemy’s music is completely different than respecting what they did for Black culture and Hip Hop Kulture as well. You don’t have to like 3rd Bass or even know who they are to still have respect for what they represented and who they ushered in to the game. Appreciation of history needs an element of respect in order to have impact. Right now, rappers and their fans have lost that respect for Hip Hop.
To bring things back to what they’re supposed to be, it seems that we need some remedial courses on Hip Hop. Sometimes, to develop an appreciation for something, we must be a witness to it. Luckily, we have been living in the video age for a long time. Proof of True Hip Hop exists on tape. If given the proper context, some of these same pivotal events can be relived and examined in depth for their significance. After that, hopefully a new appreciation can be stimulated.
I’ve personally witnessed True Hip Hop Kulture on display that inspired all those who were there at the time. Some of these moments have been preserved as ways for people in the future to get insight and knowledge. Even people who weren’t there, at the time, still felt the inspiration when they watched it later, on a Shades of Hip Hop video mixtape. Nineteen years ago, I started nationally marketing my first set of Hip Hop videos which captured some of those moments. As many of my friends already know, my favorite moment (that I was able to record for future generations), is the Roundtable Cypher with Big Pun, DMX, Mos Def, Canibus, John Forte and Mic Geronimo in 1997. Sadly, many viewers skip straight to the legendary rhyme cypher at the end, where Canibus spits his “2nd Round K.O.” verse in public for the first time. However, the best part of the video is what happened before that. The discussion, hosted by journalist and author Toure, was a true, master-class in emceein. The topics discussed are some things that every rapper needs to consider if he/she wants to build their skill. They talk about:
- How to separate the real lyricists from ones who don’t know
- Competition vs. Intimidation
- Why is ego important?
- Do you need to qualify with a Hip Hop authority or be co-signed?
- How do you prove you’re the illest?
- What makes a great emcee?
- How do you tell a rapper they’re whack?
- Slang words and setting trends
- How to make adjustments between music projects
If all of these topics were commonly discussed by artists, we would probably have a different caliber of music today. We would already have a respect for the culture enough to pursue growth of the Hip Hop community, not just sustainability. We would then be able to discuss Hip Hop History month as a tool for economic development. We could discuss strategies on how to strategically harness the value of Hip Hop marketing to create campaigns that tastefully draw on nostalgia while supporting the efforts of entrepreneurs to provide products and services to the masses. Who knows? It might start to look a little like Christmas celebrations. This is not something to shy away from once we understand the ways in which society operates. Business or the need for unrelated tribes to exchange goods, is the basis of all societies. Culture, is just what makes those societies better and more livable. Once we get to that discussion, we can then, better appreciate the significance and importance of Hip Hop History month. Until then, we must relearn what we’ve lost and rediscover those hidden gems to use as beacons for the next generation to love like we do.