Stop Asking What Hip Hop is Doing For Ferguson

Celebrities are like punching bags for our opinions. It comes with the territory of course, but culturally I think we’ve gotten way too comfortable with calling out rappers, sports figures and others for things we don’t apply in our personal lives. Yeah, this may be a bit preachy, but hear me out …

You know that annoying infamous quote by John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country”?

It doesn’t flow like a line from Hov, but if I were all idealistic and patriotic, it would have me reflecting. As a part of the Hip Hop community, I feel the same applies when we callout artists for their lack of activism.

So many people have been questioning what artists are doing in the wake of the decisions not to indict the murderers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but what are we doing as individuals? I get it – we want or expect more from those who have a platform and influence, and I’ve done my fair share of critiquing mainstream Hip Hop’s apparent silence on many issues but I’m starting to wonder why so many of us look to artists to awaken or spark social change?

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It’s true that art can definitely have an impact on our mental vibe. If I’m blasting “Push it to the Limit” by Rozay, don’t tell me I’m not on a high speed chase. If I hear some socially-conscious bars from Talib Kweli or Mos Def, I might feel compelled to do better. If I hear Young Thug, I probably don’t want to think about a damn thing and his music is go-to for that. Even Mao Tse Tung recognized this and was able to revolutionize China by infusing his ideologies into the arts and influencing people to believe in his ideals, so there is a direct connection between social movements and the arts. Artists on the other hand aren’t always ready to step into the role of activists. Just like us regular folks, there are some who are going to step up and others who are cool with simply doing them and collecting checks.

In all the generalities being thrown out though, have we acknowledged artists like Q. Tip, J. Cole, Mos Def, David Banner and many others who have been very vocal on the issue of police brutality and involved in protests? Have we taken time to see who’s doing what before we blame Hip Hop as a whole?

The reality is we’re all a part of this lifestyle.

It’s easy to point fingers at people in the limelight, but does our track record show that we’ve been involved? Ever since the outrage over the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has grown, I’ve been asking myself how I can be an effective part of creating change and solutions. For some people that may be die-in protests, for others blocking off a highway, or using social media as a tool to keep these topics in the forefront. Whatever method suits us best, we might want to be involved in something besides looking to entertainers to lead in times where all it takes is everyday men and women to exercise our own power for change.

It’s not just about rappers, real social progress calls for all hands on deck.


Tight roping, side-eyeing, and analyzing my way through the complexities and spaces where life, art, and culture connect.

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