The following appeared in The Chicago Sun-Times…
Elders ‘misinformed’ about hip-hop, young CEO writes
December 11, 2005
BY MARY MITCHELL SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Recently, I ran into Carl West, the 30-something CEO of MIDWEST GAP Enterprises, a publishing and promotional company. West challenged me to a debate about hip-hop, an exercise I deem pointless. It took the births of my two granddaughters for my own son -- a hip-hop artist himself -- to listen to my point of view.
But I invited West to use my column to have his say. So without further ado, this is West’s response to my criticisms of hip-hop over the years:
“I’ve had the same conversation with misinformed old heads, which prompted me to organize a town hall meeting next month with three dozen prominent businessmen to defend and explain the importance of hip-hop. The theme of the meeting is ‘Bridging the Generational Gap Between the Misinformed and the Misunderstood.’ Guess who’s who?
“You’re in the group that continues to down play and criticize the hip-hop generation. That makes you misinformed. You know me and many other young men like me who are educated, neatly dressed, very well mannered and game-fully employed or self employed for that matter, and we’re hip hop heads. That means we love, breathe and many even make our business in this multi-billion dollar industry.
“Kenard Gibbs, one of the coolest brothers around, is deeply embedded in hip hop [and] is the president of VIBE magazine, but if you saw him, like me and millions of other men and women, you wouldn’t know that Tupac or Common was our music of choice.
“Another example is the hottest criminal defense attorney has hip-hop flowing through his veins like no other. Attorney Andre Grant met some young brothers from Rockford ten years ago while defending them in another matter. Today they are blowing up like the world trade, and Mr. Grant’s investment is about to come back ten fold.
“I hang with shorties on the block. I chill on Thursdays at Blu 47 with the bourgeois, or you might find me posted up with Bill Garth and Larry Huggins listening to tales of old wise men.
“But the one missing denominator is respect for a culture that has dominated America’s appetite for all things hip-hop. Fashion, music, style, bling, language and entourages have captured the hearts and souls of every race from every corner of the globe.
“Think about these several facts. One is that when the old heads criticize hip-hop, they’re dogging out their sons, daughters and grand kids, who most likely love and live hip-hop. Secondly, in the next ten years, most political figures, business and community leaders will have all come from the hip-hop generation.
“With all those things said, why not get involved in the movement, so you and other old heads can have some say about what’s booming from my jeep and into the minds of the next generation.
“I suggest to you, the same thing I tell my other misinformed homies. Support and invest in future hip-hop leaders, because the other man has, and check out how he’s living.”
In reply: ‘You’ve shamed me’
Obviously, you know as well as I do that not everyone who listens to hip-hop wears their pants off their butts. So we aren’t talking about fashion, are we? My objection to hip-hop’s influence has nothing to do with how much money the industry has made, either. After all, what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?
Think about this: The illegal drug trade, too, has made people millionaires.
But drug dealing has also sent tens of thousands of black men to prison, scattered their children to the wind, and drove their women to early graves.
Unfortunately, too many hip-hop artists are just as poisonous. They glamorize violence (we won’t even get into the number of gangsta rappers who have killed each other), the sexual abuse of women, and poison the environment with their profane use of the “N” word.
But more importantly, I oppose any music genre that consistently depicts black people as only being interested in having sex, getting drunk, and killing each other.
When black sons and daughters find fame and fortune by marketing their mothers and sisters as ‘hos and Bs’, they deserve to be dogged out by elders who are the guardians of our culture.
With the help of powerful media moguls, members of your generation gave the world a distorted view of the African-American community and partied all the way to the bank.
The hip-hop culture was an assault on the “black is beautiful” image of our era. Today, we have “educated, neatly dressed, very well mannered and game-fully employed or self employed” hip-hop heads to thank for the thuggin’, sexin’, pimpin’ and killin’ images that are being broadcast 24/7 around the world today.
And we have these same people to thank for the resurrection of the “N” word as both a racial slur and an endearment.
So you see, Carl. You didn’t win me over. You’ve shamed me.
We should have put you hip-hop-heads in check a long time ago.