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Hip-Hop Fridays:

Yesterday we were referred to an outstanding new Hip-Hop website that we would like to bring to your attention. The site is called and they are a breath of fresh air especially in the current environment of Hip-Hop journalism and music. They offer an impressive array of op-eds and commentary and we think provide enough of a mixture of elements to satisfy the most die-hard of Hip-Hop heads and intellectuals. Here is an excerpt of one of the pieces available at the site. Please read it check out the rest of their work and let them know what you think of what they are doing...

"What is Conscious HipHop" By SeldomSeen

The term conscious, when applied to the subject of hip-hop has always been used to describe a genre of the art containing inspirational and/or informative lyrics, "message music", if you will. In an era of extreme and sexually explicit and violent lyrics, conscious hip-hop has nearly become an oxymoron. It is a form of the music not normally or easily associated with the art form as a whole.

For our purposes, conscious hip-hop includes any hip-hop music that is responsible, thought provoking and/or inspirational towards positivity.

Why is conscious hip-hop important?
It has been well documented that hip-hop culture has a nearly unmatched influence over a wide socioeconomic swath of youth.

Basically speaking, if the youth are being raised and nurtured by such an influential culture, it is imperative that those who create, shape and distribute that culture do so with concern for the effect their culture has on it's consumers.

All too often, those who act irresponsibly within the hip-hop community feign ignorance and revert to the "caveman defense" when challenged. They are quick to claim to be mere "entertainers", and they claim they "don't know why" people (hip-hop consumers) take them so seriously. After all, they are just "businessmen", innocently and industriously making a profit by displaying a talent at making a product, just like Bill Gates or Pete Coors.

Another oft-used attempt at naivete is rappers who delve in negativity are simply "artists" who have being wrongly persecuted for "pushing the boundaries" of an "art" form they are driven to produce. (Puffy's cross-bearing video fiasco comes to mind?)

But these same "business-artisans" can't seem to stop telling us how "real" they are, and how, should you be foolish enough to question their outlandish claims of fantastic feats and lavish lifestyles, you might end up the latest of their numerous victims to be "bucked down" or "wetted up" or other such nonsense. Showing us, or at least attempting to convince us that they in fact believe wholeheartedly in the message of ignorance they espouse.

The makers of this type of hip-hop sells us a product not unlike cigarette manufacturers, in that they encourage regular consumption of a product that is knowingly and purposefully dangerous and unhealthy, and is packaged in the addictive wrapping of a catchy melody or chorus. Ask yourself how many times you've hummed Jay-Z and Foxy Brownıs "ain't no nigga" before realizing what you were actually saying.

Should all hip-hop have positive content?
Surprisingly, it is my contention that there is in fact a place in the world for explicit or irresponsible lyrics. In fact, one of my favorite hip-hop groups, Mobb Deep is notorious, or should I say "infamous" for ultra-realistic depictions of sex drugs and violence. And I regularly enjoy listening to their music.

But the place for such music is in the hands or ears of adults, such as myself or anyone else over the age of 18. Adults who we reasonably expect to have the intellectual capacity to negotiate the emotional impact of explicit messages and rationally distinguish the often-blurred line between fantasy and reality.

For example, several months ago, my fiancee' and I were cleaning up in different parts of our apartment when I decided to play Mobb Deep's "The Infamous" CD on the stereo. While not blasting the music, it was clearly audible throughout the apartment, meaning we both listened to every word without having to pay close attention. We are both morning people, and it was early. We were in no particular rush and had no solid plans for the day.

Our apartment happened to be really dirty, and we listened to over three quarters of the disk without interruption and without much conversation until we began cleaning in the same room. As we periodically asked each other routine questions such as "where's the broom", "are there any paper towels" etc, we started snapping at each other and having snappy and terse exchanges. I noticed that I was cleaning really vigorously, sweating and throwing stuff around like a maniac.

While I was cleaning, I started thinking about my annoying neighbor in the apartment below ours. He had taken up two parking spaces in front of the building with his big-ass car, partially blocking my favorite space and forcing me to park a greater distance away. Just as I began to think of how cool it would be to pull out a 9mm and blast some holes in his windshield, my fiancee' yells "hey, can we put on some different music cause Iım tired of feeling like killing somebody".

The irony of her words broke the inner silence that still exists when you're listening to music, and brought us both to laughter. I mean, although Iıd never do anything as ridiculous as shoot up my neighbor's car, the music, combined with the physical activity led me to be at least a little less rational than I would have been otherwise...

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Friday, November 16, 2001

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