A Read: Ending the Slavery Mentality in Hip Hop

Since celebrating our newly implemented federal holiday, Juneteenth Saturday, there’s been one particular thing on my mind. As it relates to Juneteenth, it’s a celebration of the official end to slavery, the day we as black people consider our very own Independence Day.  We all I’m sure reflected on the sacrifices of our ancestors, and how far we’ve come as a people. Black business/home ownership is higher than its ever been, we own the highest selling genre of music in the world, and we are definitely hands down the most influential culture. We’ve made many strides, and achieved what at one time seemed impossible, but there’s a looming issue that lies within the hip hop and R&B music scene. I’m not talking about the sometimes obscene content you see and hear in rap, personally, that’s never bothered me. It’s time to address the slave-like mentality we can’t seem to shake when pursuing our dreams. 

While the hip hop music industry has evolved and diversified over time, let’s be clear: we started that shit. Let’s be clear on this as well: we own that shit. Just like the NBA and NFL, if every black person decided to leave, it would all be over. The music industry would tank, which would trickle down and kill millions of jobs worldwide. Hip hop became popular because of our creativity and style. God blessed black people with a unique look and swag. We standout without trying, which is why we’re so heavily imitated. We have created something that’s so powerful, yet many artists, producers, or aspiring executives are still bending over backwards to get simple recognition from the white folk that work in the offices. Have you forgotten your worth? If you’re begging these white boys for a post on their outdated site, a play on the radio, a position at the label, or just even a simple response, I’m calling you out. 

Be mindful that many of these “elite” positions white people hold in the industry doesn’t mean a thing. At the end of the day, this is our shit. Reaching out and building a rapport is always good, and those with genuine intentions will be responsive. It’s important to be humble when approaching someone about your endeavor, but it’s just as important to take pride in it. Personally, I applied to be a contributing writer for a few top ranking sites many years ago. I never got any responses, but being that I’m black in a black-created industry, clearly that didn’t phase me. You don’t want to give me an opportunity? No problem, I’ll create my own, and I did, successfully (snaps). As an artist, don’t ever feel that you need to go out of your way to get someone’s attention. It’s time for us to take back ownership of what’s already ours. Do the work, perfect your craft, and stay consistent. Invest in yourself in every way. Remember also, if one lane doesn’t work, another one will. I’d also recommend exploring your hidden talents. For example, after pursuing a rap career for years with no progress, you might discover a love for production. There’s all sorts of avenues accessible to you in an industry dominated by your own.

Finally to the white people that are blessed to be apart of our culture: we as black people have to damn near walk around on egg shells just to not be arrested or murdered. We endure trauma on too much of a consistent basis in the outside world. Hip hop was created by us, and we don’t need to kiss your ass. Our culture is the foundation of hip hop, and responsible for why you even have a job. Don’t fix your brain to think we have to go through you, or that you can dismiss us.  There’s immaculate progress that comes from humility. Treat those looking for assistance with respect. You’re not above them, especially when you’re in apart of a culture as a guest.


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