2014: The Year Of The Hip Hop Race War (Article)

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As 2014 comes to a close, I am going into the New Year as a person with very little sense of belonging. It’s of no secret, that I love Hip Hop. Anybody who knows me can vouch for that. I am not necessarily the most knowledgeable Hip Hop head in the world, but I’d argue my passion for not only the genre of music, but the culture and those it represents is unrivaled. 

Ever since, and to an extent before, my bout with depression, Hip Hop was the one place I could rely on. In 2014, I’ve needed it more than ever, because I’ve never been so close to feeling how I did almost three years ago. Yet, as 2015 draws nearer, I’ve felt a disconnect from the so-called ‘Black Culture’ and I’m not sure if I’ll ever wholeheartedly rekindle the love I have for the ‘game.’ 

I may not have to live in fear of being shot, whilst unarmed, by people who are sworn to protect me and uphold the law; but I have felt the consequences of the actions of Darren Wilson, and the other countless police officers who have given the majority a bad name, as consequence of the minorities actions.

I live a million miles away from Ferguson, in a small ‘village’, near the North East coast of England. A place where, resulting from political propaganda this side of the Atlantic, has become a haven of racial bigotry as the lower classes are told to blame immigrants for the countries pitfalls, when the facts would show the upper classes are to blame.

I’d like to think I stand up for equality and fairness whenever possible, which is why it sickens me to see Hip Hop, a place I use to gain understanding, or escape, from the ‘real world’, become nothing more than an unapologetic, abrasive reflection of it. 

Whether you’re team Iggy Azalea, or team Azealia Banks, you’re most likely contributing to the problem, rather than the solution. O.G’s like Q-Tip and Talib Kweli have helped steady the boat, but from where I am standing, it still continues to sink. I don’t believe for one minute Iggy is deliberately appropriating Hip Hop for her own gain, and neither do I believe Banks is racist, even though in both cases the evidence is stacked against them. They’re both just pawns, in a game that is bigger than any individual and in the resounding words of Dead Prez, It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop.

As human beings, we should celebrate differences, whilst understand that we’re all similar. Take away the cultural attachments that we have given to race, class, age, gender and the like, and we’re all humans with emotions, beliefs and goals that supersede our pigment, reproductive system or financial income. Whilst I would love to see a change in the world, I’m starting today, to try, and help push the dialogue of the Hip Hop race war into something more intelligent than I’m yet to have seen. For I believe, Hip Hop is both more simplistic and complicated than the title of ‘black music/culture.’

It is more simplistic in that, we should all be considered equal. Yes, there are unfortunately examples in which black people are treat as inferior to Caucasians, but two wrongs do not make a right. As for the more complicated, let me ask, why is it that the colour of the founding fathers of this culture, and those that precede it is prioritised over their gender, class and age. Shouldn’t Nicki Minaj pay homage to male counterparts? Shouldn’t Drake pay tribute to those of a lesser class? Shouldn’t Jay Z, Eminem and Nas give up for they have passed their youthful primes? 

I am a foster child of Hip Hop, as a white, working class teenager-turned-man from Britain as much as I could be if I were a black, underclass millennial from Brooklyn. It’s not the colour of my skin, or any other factor of my external identity that might be found on hospital records that should be taken into account, but the fact that I can relate to Joe Budden’s vivid articulation of attempted suicide, that I can connect with Drake’s longing after an ex and on the other hand, get motivated by Trev Rich’s “Talk My Shit”, find a buzz when I discover the Loose Logics of the world and stand in awe as Joey Bada$$ stage dives in to the crowd in a local venue. 

Let’s top defining Hip Hop, both it’s successes and failures by social constructs we invest too much time to, and instead enjoy it when a dope emcee drops some music. Accept that the Iggy Azealia, Bobby Shmurda and Trinidad James’ of the world will come in all shapes, colours and sizes and soon become distant memories but the Em’s, Kendrick’s, Jay’s, Nas, Wiley, Stormzy, Joey Bada$$ and all of the legends that have made Hip Hop a home for the oppressed of all walks of life will be etched in our brains for eternity.

This race war is taken all the pressure off of the people that should truly be the targets of our attention. The government who refuse to acknowledge that #BlackLivesMatter, as much as #AllLivesMatter. The Grammy voters who have no pedigree in awarding such a prestigious award, I do believe Macklemore deserved it last year, but Iggy has no place in the nominations for the upcoming awards ceremony. Those higher than us, are looking down, laughing as we take chunks from each other, because we blindly believe our personal similarities are inferior to our appearance based differences. 

One thing I’d love to see left behind in 2014 is prejudice and discrimination of all forms, and whilst we can all sit at a computer and vent our own personal frustrations of the world, how about we start making a difference in Hip Hop. Stop caring whether a Hip Hop head is of a specific gender, race or class – as long as they love the culture and contribute to it accordingly, who gives a fuck? 

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