© 2012 Hiphopscholar.org
The 2002 book the Hip Hop Generation Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture by Bakari Kitwana starts with a quote by the writer Frantz Fanon that is so hot that M.K. Asante Jr. bit it in 2008 and also used it as a quote to open his book It’s Bigger than Hip Hop the rise of the post Hip Hop Generation.
The quote, ‘each generation out of relative obscurity must discover their mission, fulfill it or betray it”, feels like it fits right about now to describe me, or us. Those of us who weren’t even born when Rakim nominated Eric B. for president, those of us who grew up watching power rangers and were barely teens when Biggie and Tupac died or who never really heard or seen half the people on those Hiphop Honors shows. We seem to be searching for our identity. As I look at YouTube videos of my peers making videos about absolutely nothing of relevance (of course there are noteworthy exceptions), and tweeting that amounts to about the same level of stupidity I’m convinced many of us have the, dare I use the cliché, swag without any substance.
We have opinions about everything and facts about nothing...Ask us what we’ve read or what is going on in the world and some of us are clueless, we couldn’t even tell you why we believe some things, we just do. I’ll admit I find tweeting, fb, and a good movie way more entertaining than a book.Yet at the same time I know I need balance. In my never ending quest to learn more about rap music and Hiphop culture I have come up with a few ways to get that balance.
1. think before I speak. As the old head 5% folks would say ‘do the knowledge’, which means get as much information as I can about something pro/con and weight them and after that offer my perspective. 2. Learn from Elders. When I travel to various cities and meet other Hiphop heads I always seek out the old heads. They are walking libraries full of first hand stories, and things I have yet to experience. 3. Don’t dismiss old music as old music. This is easy for artists like Nas, Tupac or Biggie because we’ve been taught to revere these people but what about people like Three Times Dope, Special E. or Isis (found these people through research!). 4. Read up on the game. In my case its rap and Hiphop, watching the Beef DVDs is not enough to have an appreciation for the culture read some of these books that legit Hiphopscholars have put out. 5 Be willing to outgrow ideas when its time. In my short time on this planet I’ve learned that learning is a journey not a destination and sometimes when new ideas come it means old ones have to go.
So as I watch my generation and myself I hope that our search leads us to something and somewhere that will fulfill our mission. -Biko