" in its modern American
form, traces its roots to New York City
. And before that, entertainers called Griots
have spread the form throughout West Africa
Rap, and Hip Hop, became an underground success with "freestyle battles" and graffiti, as a battle of wits. To understand why these "rappers", or artists, talk about the things they do, one must understand the culture and mindset of the person.
Today, as of 2004, admittedly large amounts of these artists have guided the form into a more mainstream club culture. Still, many artists stay true to original form, and choose to stick with rap, or hip hop's, non-fiction storytelling roots.
A lot of more individuals, and/or individuals more isolated from the "street", "ghetto", "hood", or crime-ridden environments slander the form. Claims range from it provides a negative influence for children, to claiming it incites violence.
These claims have foundation, but are misguided. The form of hip-hop simply reflects on an underground culture previously ignored by mainstream America.
As an example, I cite one of rap's more famous artists, Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac. Tupac Amaru Shakur grew up in the crime infested streets of Marin City, California. As Tupac's musical, lyrical, and indeed political evolution took form, Tupac began to seperate himself from the confinements of "gangster rap", and branch into everything from poetry to screenplays and movies. One of his creations, a book of poetry known as The Rose That Grew From Concrete is considered by many critics to be a respectable piece of work. To the modern art culture, it is a shining piece of work from the "Urban Poetry" trend. To this culture of art and acceptance, these poems are considered profound and thoughtful.
The exact same thoughts contained in those poems are contained in his music, yet only his music was ever attacked as negative. Tupac was simply telling a story of his life, signified by the ever-satirized "Thug Life". T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. = The Hate U Gave Little Infants Fucks Everybody. And part of that "hate" could be attributed to mainstream society for creating an air of isolation instead of acceptance.
As far as the continuing critics of "gangster rap", I feel, could only criticize those that promote things like rape. "Rappers" like Tupac were crucified for confessing feelings, and telling true stories of their lives. I find it absurd and hypocritical in our liberal all-accepting society. I believe these critics that satirize the TRUE art form, not the mainstream club music, but the true art form do so out of both societal taboo and insecurity. But of course, there are some that just plain do not like a form of art or music. If it is because of these reasons, than of course that is absolutely acceptable. But to do so out of misunderstanding and prejudice due to ignorance, it is wrong and contributes to the still-prominent rift in a multi-racial society.