Ode to Hip Hop

Location

20744
United States
38° 44' 52.1592" N, 76° 59' 55.9212" W

What is hip hop?
Before the jewelry,
Before the ice,
Before gangsta rap.
Before it was defined by dolla signs or days in the trap.
Before biggie,
before pac,
before a woman's behind
was worth more than her mind.
Before East vs West or North vs South.
Before the 5th principle we call knowledge began to be left out.

Let's talk Big Daddy Kane,
KRS, Grandmaster Flash and Cold Crush.
Let's talk MC's reciting party themes
DJs in the forefront.
Let's talk Rock Steady, Juice Crew, Boogie Down or Def Jam,
Or when Zulu Nation had a tribe on a quest
for the black conscience respect and
we were a people...
displaced off gentrification,
fresh off that black panther dissemination…

We were packed next to that Cross Bronx Expressway
like ants in a glass case so we built our own colonies,
dug out our own lanes;
see we needed an escape from the harsh realities.
When the fire inside the civil rights movement died
and took our pride with it,
hip hop was our answer to the system.
The dancing, the canvas and the rhythm
and to understand it all,
you had to be within it.

When DJ Kool Herc hit the streets
with turntables and some James Brown beats.
When graffiti was an artist’s suggestive expression.
When gangs were b-boy crews who settled arguments
with dance instead of weapons.
This was ours.
This was us.
This was hip hop.
The dancing, the canvas and the rhythm,
but to understand it all,
you had to be within it.

Our writings on the walls,
you can't read the hieroglyphics.
But change comes to all.
Sugarhill Gang changed the game
With Rapper's Delight,
gave hip hop its first actual light;
We were soaring...
and once you’re flying you either crash
or continue on a path of flight,
and so we did.
Kurtis Blow became the 1st rapper to sign,
“These Are the Breaks”
took us from no name to Soul train,
took hip hops plateau and lifted the whole thing.
We going mainstream.

But this is the 80's;
the hustler, the crack baby;
the modern face of oppression.
So when the Furious 5 gave us the message-
“it's like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
why I keep from going under”… America loved us.
Now, that's what I call a negative to positive,
progressive accomplishments.
We'd make them acknowledge it.

America's vigilante
now nominated for Grammys,
screaming out
“cut the check and put it on TV,
Cuz we’ll boycott the whole award show
If you don’t let my people see me!”
Yeah we wanted our respect.
When NWA told us they were
“straight outta Compton kid”.
When Public Enemy said
Bum Rush the Show with the politics.
When A Tribe Called Quest kicked intelligent knowledge
on a conscious tip…it was obvious this was real.
This was ours.
This was hip hop.
The dancing, the canvas and the rhythm,
and to understand it all,
you had to be within it.

But this was the 90's
and we had found a niche;
there's something about a gangsta
a hustler and a pimp
that wets America's lips;
and the more explicit we'd get,
the more numbers we'd hit;
the closer we got to being rich,
the easier it was to forget what we came for;
that same raw respect we had pained for.
See, money changes things,
and when that change came to be--
it became less about the future
and more about the right now.
Less about the art-form and
more about the lifestyle.
You know, the American dream…
"Money Cash Hoes" cause
"Cash Rules Everything Around Me" when it's
"Nuthin But a G Thang" & I'm
"Ready to Die",
"Ambitious As a Rider" can be,
so what's "Life After Death".
Although lyricism was on the rise,
the 5th principle called knowledge was still left behind

See this is the 21 century:
it's more like how many millions can you do in a week,
we don't battle we beef cause we from the streets
but we spend our whole lives on MTV.
So before you ask about me,
look at my sneaks.
Before you question my smarts,
look at this car.
Before you ask me why,
peep the clothes that I buy.
Cop the CD,
and you can stroke your ego the way I stroke mine.
See what I say doesn't matter,
so give me a slow beat with some 808s bumpin’
to distract you from the latter.

Yeah this is me.
This is hip hop.
The dancing, the canvas and the rhythm.
To understand it all,
Don’t think too hard…
Can't sell records,
‘cause I traded being respected to be accepted.
They can't be like me,
if I'm trying to be like them,
and it's ok,
‘cause I can't fall off if I never move in any direction.

Some say rap is pathetic.
Yet, I see a revamping moving forward…
The same pain that sparked the creation of a culture;
The spirit that started the Harlem Renaissance;
A generation produced during the crack epidemic,
yet the first babies born out of rap music;
The first to vote for a black president;
The voice of an angry youth determined to be heard,
because it's not all good
and there is more work to be done.
But this, this is us.
We are hip hop.
The dancing, the canvas and the rhythm,
and to understand it all,
you have to be within it.

Comments

Alibi Sworn

"Hip-hop's not dead it just has a disease..."-Chris Rivers, (Something's Missing)

Nice work by the way.

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741