Last week, Zulu Nation's Minister of Information released a very strong letter to WorldstarHipHop.com regarding the content of their site and its lack of relevance to Hip Hop Culture. While most people with average levels of literacy saw it simply as a community response to questionable content; some people have already began to spin the letter into a non-provoked attack on new school Hip Hop. But just like most things, media will spin its hype and people who do not want to change their way of thinking will interpret it as such since it comes from a cultural movement and not a multi-billion dollar corporation. Most likely, there are those who will call Zulu Nation "haters" for the next few months, but we (young and old) should find a way to bridge that gap of misunderstanding in the meantime and offset this obvious misinterpretation proactively.
We have talked about the cultural and business aspects of Hip Hop in these last few articles, but what we have not touched on is WHY new school hipsters seem to shun the weight of cultural attachments. To begin with, let's look at the advancements of technology, the super-stream of information available 24 hours a day and the ability to take credit card payments easily. These younger generations have found new hustles to build up income with simple gimmicks and beefed up plays on viral videos. Their primary focus is now on "gettin' money," and if we're honest with ourselves, the cultural movements have not been particularly known for income producing results. This is why you will hear people say, "positive doesn't pay" or "He might be wack, but he ain't broke" when referring to sub-par rappers who make a millions off of simplistic lyrics and dumbed down hooks.
The younger generation concern themselves with what is SELLING or what is POPULAR. While political groups and organizations have been around for decades and have even been responsible for congressional approvals of a national Hip Hop month and preservations of landmarks relating to Hip Hop culture; the fact remains that the younger generation is not really that committed to the culture as they are the opportunities of the business. The majority of them do not even know the history of the culture, nor the political advancements these movements have made. They simply just don't pay attention to those kinds of things. It doesn't INTEREST them. How many of our young adults know about organizations like Hip Hop Congress, Hip Hop Caucus, Ill Crew Universal, etc.?
Those reading this may ask, "But hasn't it always been that way with younger crowds?" The youthful mindset is often carefree and in search of perpetual fun; but the awareness of Hip Hop history has indeed dwindled in the last decade. While the business booms on, the culture seems to be fading away like an old adage to be remembered by elders and preserved in museums. So, how do we as a group of people committed to both the business and culture reconcile the two worlds? Should we even try?
TO BUILD OR NOT TO BUILD
One thing that is obvious is that the valley between the two is steadily growing. At some point, proponents for both sides must either consider working together for the benefit of growth and expansion; or they will continue separation until the culture is wholly separated from the current trends of today. As a result, the new school will lose their identity to corporate images and brands completely.
If we DO NOT build a bridge, the old school will continue dissipating into the history books, while corporations define our culture to billions of people with no regard for misrepresentations. It will be all about profit and virility. The new school will lose their identity and never ask the important questions or pay attention to the new money-making schemes that serve to enslave them into pyramid schemes, promoter politics and empty promises of instant stardom. Not building a bridge hurts both sides of the fence, so to speak, and keeps the independent movements a few paces behind.
If we DO build a bridge, the old school will once again be recognized as cultural authority; while the business can be regarded as just that... BUSINESS! It's simpler to keep the two in their respective corners when one is not trying to take over the whole proverbial "ring". The new school proponents get to gain the knowledge and experience of the older crews and utilize the resources on both sides to pursue either business or community efforts with the support of the "elders." The prideful character on both sides of the argument is strong, and the stances are equally regarded by masses of people falling on either side of the fence.
Would Hip Hop benefit from such separation? Or is it in the best interest of ALL PARTIES to define the differences, support the mutual goals and compromise in an effort to build the bridge as opposed to burning it. The choice is up to US….