Open Letter to Hip Hop


Dear would-be ambassadors (producers, rappers, singers, et. al) of Hip Hop, please allow me to introduce…


An Educated Black Man? Ain’t nobody got time foh that! That’s that shit she don’t like! That’s not the man she wants, as she prefers a tall, dark, and tatted bad boy who wears saggy pants. She’s so blunt, and brags to her friends about how well her man can roll a blunt. Girl, he’s so dope; he said he used to sell a whole bunch of dope! But don’t get it twisted, he ain’t no thug; he just got mouths to feed, only does weed, and that ain’t even really a drug. She swears he’s a good dude even though he just got locked up again; yeah I’m talking about jail. But she’s an exotic dancer getting major paper so dropping a G to bail out her favorite aspiring rapper ain’t nothing that’s gonna faze her. Don’t matter how many times he’s made her cry, as long as he stays so fly. She ain’t tryna brag but damn her dude got mad swag! All gold everything, that’s how he likes his bling. In her mind, the 2 chains on his tall white tee make him the sexiest thing! She ain’t tripping, one day when he finally makes it big she’s gon definitely get that ring. Don’t believe her just watch! And his gold watch? Girl, straight Rolex, not no damn Swatch! And for her? Michael Kors, of course! They dream of expensive cars! His Lamborghini mercy, her Bugatti so fancy! Call it his and hers! She’s definitely a ride or die, so even as she watched that old man he shot slowly die, she walks about with her head held high, since he’d put her on that constant high, talking about: “Free my nigga…” as she shows her haters how many fucks she really gives by holding up her middle finger!

Excuse my French! But this poem couldn’t have been told in earnest without its explicit language. This is not a shot at anyone in particular, but a satirical message questioning the prevalence of self-detrimental relationships and other practices we (young people) seem inclined to indulge in, especially in the African American community. It is said that in the US, statistically there are more successful, professional black women than there are black men. That notwithstanding, there are many more educated and intelligent black men in America today than at any previous time in its history, thanks to the sacrifices of similar men in history. The youth in our generation just choose to focus on all the wrong things and continue to let their emotions act without the benefit of reason. They tend to follow trends to make their decisions, even with regard to matters of the heart that should always be guided by personal prerogative, wisdom, and discernment. But where are the good examples we ought to follow? I think I’ll just date this “cool nigga” or “bad bitch” or both. That’s what’s hot in these streets, I guess.

Whatever happened to the admiration for and celebration of intelligence? When did it become so uncool to be intelligent? Why do we idolize and make role models of unintelligent rappers? Or rappers who willingly sound or appear to be untilligent? Men whose work is primarily to reverberate a whole lot of boasting over a catchy beat, recycling meaningless words on repeat, glorifying and practically advocating for cheating, drug dealing, fighting, and other grotesquely selfish and ignoble traits and behaviors! What’s the result? A generation of young black people mired in irony: at once educated and yet ignorant! And perceived by others as even worse. Where has the art in music gone? Why is the phrase, “being classy” considered an antonym to Hip Hop? Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions to the rule. I need not mention them. Anyone who shares similar sentiments as me on this subject knows who these significantly less heard musical diamonds in the rough are. The hard truth is that Hip Hop is just hip right now; it sure as hell ain’t helping its primary audience hop over anything significant.

What young people are treated to in our musical experience with Hip Hop as it exists today is an overdose of name calling and sexually explicit and denigrating metaphors, especially directed toward the very women aka “bad bitches” who remain avid listeners, screaming, adulating, and panty dropping attendees at concerts, and mindless mob mentality fans who adore and defend the every word/act of these so called artists. And believe it or not, more than half of these women are educated. Yes Hip Hop, that’s the kind of power/influence you do have on this generation! But how much of that power do you the individual rapper or singer have? I can hardly count how many young black men I encountered in college who were full-time students and part-time rappers. All these young black men wanting to become a Rap or RnB artist is quite interesting. What exactly would they be getting themselves into?

Honestly, the state of mainstream Hip Hop today leaves much to be desired and makes the labeling of most contemporary rappers and singers as “artists” almost an insult to those who once stood before you and accurately represented that word accordingly; unapologetically, with passion, integrity, and regard for quality of content, as well as a genuine desire to inspire their listeners. Where do we go from this all-time low? First we must ask a few hard questions: Who’s in control, you or the ones who manage you? Who are you really? What’s your real identity? The character we see in your music videos? Or perhaps someone else? Those derogatory words you utter so shamelessly on your hit records, are they yours or another’s? Do your words mean nothing now? Have you forgotten the power of words? Contemplating the answers to these questions would be a start. Parental advisory is advised. Better yet, parental responsibility is recommended. What about your own children? What can or will they take away from their daddy’s music once they grow a discerning ear?

Hip Hop may not be dead but it might as well be in a coma. Can we do better? We’ve got to do better! Mind you, this is no trivial matter. There are many for whom music is therapeutic, and there are some who even go as far as to say things like, “Music is my savior!” To these people you are doing a great disservice. Oh and by the way, these people may well be counted among your fans, you know the ones to whom you say “I love you” as you conclude your performances at your concerts? Moreover, there are many misguided young men and women whose very sense of identity is strongly tied to that of their favorite rappers and singers. And while that is no fault of yours it is nonetheless true. So what will you do? You may not want to be a role model; hell, maybe you never even had one yourself. But as you have overcome and now stand successful, admired, and damn near worshiped, if you truly do care about your community of listeners, who have indirectly been your dream enablers, then at the very least you might consider reevaluating the quality of content in your vehicle of entertainment.

Do you not think it possible nor do you not fancy yourselves capable of being at once inspirational and entertaining? Or have you resigned yourself to the fallacy that these have to be mutually exclusive? Are you no longer creative? In that case, how can you truly call yourself an artist? Have you ever thought about that? How will you respond? How will you guide today’s aspiring rappers and tomorrow’s eventual best new “artists”? How will you resuscitate the lost art in our generation’s most popular genre of music? How will you help Hip Hop?

These are my questions for your consideration; on behalf of myself and countless others who have wondered the same, who are concerned about the game, and who have grown tired of the noise that spews out of our radios on a daily basis in the name of “by popular demand”. It is common sense to know that it is quite normal for the masses to demand only that which they believe to be available to them. One does not simply go into a restaurant and order (demand) items that are not listed on its menu. And sad but true, most popular radio stations all across the US have quite the limited menu.

In conclusion, I know I have raised 21 questions herein, and I pray at least a few of you who are concerned enough may have 22 answers, for your sake, for the sake of your community of listeners, especially black youth in America, and for the sake of Hip Hop!

Gratitude and Godspeed!

Kennyrich Fomunung,
A real fan of real Hip Hop.

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