JEALOUS RELATIVES? Some thoughts on the Black Music Diaspora
Hip Hop and diasporic jealousy:
Are you a hip hop fan? That's my question for today, and it's a loaded question.
Hip-Hop is a stand-alone genre of music influenced by the slick-talking AMERICAN R&B DJs of the 1950s and onward, combined with house-moving grooves selected by younger DJs of the
early 70s, who discovered (ON THEIR own) "breaks", heavy instrumental portions of records
from any genre, but mainly soul and funk. The first nationally released hip-hop single was
an interpolated funk loop. Somehow, over the years, OUR origin story has been modified,
rewritten, and reinterpreted by outsiders trying to understand how something so dope can
come from people so "uncultured" and "ghetto". They perpetuate myths about a Jamaican Sound
System influence, and Kool Herc has stated himself: "We didn't play Jamaican music, nobody
would hear it." If the man himself stated Jamaica had nothing to do with our music, why do
people keep perpetuating the myth? People can't believe the oppressed descendants of slaves
could create a world-changing phenomenon despite being surrounded by soul-crushing poverty
combined with its' twin: Institutional Racism. Lil' ol' us made big ol y'all want to dress,
act, and speak in our street slang. At the same time, over time (let me fast forward a
little bit), these "offshoot" cultures have so much undercover hate in them it's pathetic:
UK grime rappers claiming to be evolved past us, despite not getting much attention outside
of white blogs in the states.
Corporate sponsored Canadian actors being pushed to the limelight because of a bitten
Houston aesthetic, bastardized and "smoothed out on the R&B tip" (sounds familiar, ha).
Some of us even take part in this, not understanding what's behind it. People from
countries with a 3rd and 4th hand black cultural expression attempting to RIVAL instead of representing their small piece of our large whole. Grime is still rap. Dubstep is still reggae influenced, and reggae (drumroll) is still an offshoot of American R&B. Even "toasting" came from us first.
No matter how you twist the origin story, we are the progenitors.
Respect the architect...like Blueprint says.
To some, it's just music, a collection of sounds. Or an image, the way you dress and carry
yourself. To me, and many others, it's a culture and it's expressed in every part of our
being. Respect it or be considered and treated like the guest you are.