Hip Hop Changed My Life05 Aug 2016
When I was about 13, I faintly remembering listening to A Tribe Called Quest. It was in middle school and my friend Troy kept telling me to check them out, and that they were “real hip hop”. To be honest, that shit was weird. I didn’t understand the sounds, the horns, and the crazy mixture of instruments that were being thrown together. I didn’t know why artists were talking so fast, and how people could even understand them. I also didn’t know what the fuck it meant to be considered “real hip hop”, nor do I stil understand that term today. Frankly, I didn’t like it — and I promptly proceeded to go back and listen to Silverstein, All-American Rejects, and Fall Out Boys, which arguably aren’t that bad either.
It took a little bit of getting used to, and mostly, a lot of what I considered shitty pop on the radio at the time, to finally push me to start exploring the realms of YouTube. Maybe it was the rebellious feeling I’d get whenever my relatives would tell me, “Daniel, that’s so awful! Do you not hear what he’s saying? You’re going to start doing that too.” Luckily I was privileged enough to be in Sugar Land, a place that certainly lives up to its exciting name. Regardless, fast forward to high school, which was was a time of experimentation with music. I explored random artists/groups like ATCQ, Luchini, Little Brother, The Coup, and many more. To say that it had an effect on me is a little understated.
When looking back I never knew it, but after listening to so much types of different music I’ve realized a lot of things:
Hip hop has spread my awareness. I’m more aware of the world, in terms of pop culture, politics, and general injustices. It might seem a little ludicrous at first, but hip hop has truly informed me more than any news outlet nowadays.
It’s enjoyable. Let’s be honest, if you can’t groove out to the beat, drums, horns, whatever it may be, I’m going to question your ability to recognize music (Just kidding, music is subjective… I guess).
Like any music, hip hop is art. Listen to Illmatic and tell me that shit is not something worth going crazy about. Nas captures the struggles of living in the concrete jungles of New York perfectly, telling a tale that still resonates to this day. Or listen to something new, like Pusha T, and you’ll instantly want to become a drug lord making cocaine in a lab.
Hip hop is a movement. Ever heard of Kendrick Lamar? You probably have. And if not, listen to his song “Alright”. Oh hey look, it also was the anthem behind a protest, so that’s kind of cool I guess.
Hip hop has broken a lot of molds. Look at Jay Z’s “Song Cry”. He emulates the struggle behind a “hustler crying” and the general negativity towards males crying. Or Frank Ocean, and how he proclaimed his sexuality, which was promptly defended by many large names (Kanye West, Jay-Z, Tyler the Creator, etc.)
That is to say, hip hop still has many problems. Its constant issue with drugs, sexual discrimination, and racism aren’t necessarily its selling points. In fact, it’s a main deterrant which is quite understandable. But then again, it’s still a movement and an art, so it’s consistently changing every day, hopefully paving towards a better direction.
I want to end it with this. It’s not like I don’t appreciate other genres of music. I listen to Rock, Jazz, Blues, etc. whatever I think is pleasing to my ears. But at the end of the day, I love hip hop, for what it’s done for the world, and for me.