I used to think of you as just another genre of music, but since enrolling in the Art and Culture of Hip-Hop class at my university, I have come to understand that you are more than that. You are a way of life for some people. Watching the Style Wars documentary showed me that there are people who live and breathe you as a lifestyle. A young man made a statement about you in the film, saying that graffiti is that written language and rap is the spoken language of Hip-Hop. I guess, to be honest, I never truly knew what you were, or that you could be a lifestyle. I’ve heard some of your spoken language since I’ve been in this class, and I can tell that you have changed over the years. You used to tell a story, and by listening to your words, people had an idea about what was happening and how people were feeling when your words were written, even if the meaning was not entirely clear. Now, it seems like the men and women who write your language are writing a less important message, about their vices, the things that help them cope with life, instead of life itself.
In the future, I would like to see you as you once were, telling the story of today, today’s problems, and solutions, and people. We all like hearing music that we can relate to, and maybe some of us can relate to what you talk about today, but sex, drugs, and money, are not dear to the hearts of all of us. That, I’m afraid, is the message from you that is sent through the radio. Perhaps that is not entirely your fault. Popular culture has its demands, and I suppose sometimes you must say the words that it wants to hear, so you’re not left behind.
I had not really heard much of you before this class, because my family was never a fan of your sound. Although you are still not one of my favorite genres of music, I feel that I understand you a little bit better now that I have really heard your voice.
Even though I have learned that you are more than music, I think more about your spoken language than about your other aspects. I see your written language as artistic and sometimes beautiful when written in the right places. Sometimes your language is written in inappropriate places, and location is one major difference between vandalism and art.
Hip-Hop, you have a culture that is all your own. You have norms and values, as well as ways of replacing and socializing new members. You have a language that those outside of your culture do not comprehend. They cannot understand what is important to your members and why. I do not pretend that I can fully understand any aspect of you, but I’d like to thank you for showing me a piece of what you are.