In 2015 we discussed Hip Hop Appreciation Week and the origins behind the week being dedicated to cultivating a peaceful culture whilst having to work to decriminalize its public image. Two year later we are back again having to do the same thing. Being that Hip Hop and Rap music was created by people of the African diaspora it is seen a type of Black folk music or just “Black music”. With that comes a variety of unfair assessments about the music based off of stereotypical and barbaric ideas about the people who created the genre. Although Rap music is seen as a drug focused sexualized-money hungry vibration it remains extremely popular and influential with mainstream white America. Those same listeners are only privy to what we the true gatekeepers allow them to see and hear. Nicki Minaj is the best example of this privilege. We, the true gatekeepers, liked Nicki because she could spit bars. Her mixtapes were phenomenal and she was rapping like we hadn’t heard any lady since Remy had gotten locked up. Then she got the thumbs up at Young Money Cash Money and the result is a Rapping pop star. If we, the gatekeepers, pulled the plug on her the pop star would no longer shine. A lot of Rappers don’t want to give up their new lifestyle in order to maintain the integrity of the genre almost like a security blanket.
Sounds to me as if we the listeners aren’t being appreciated. Artists, labels, streaming services, executives, and radio stations take us for granted. They release a project and expect you to sift through the entire thing and whichever songs get the most streams, plays, or downloads are named as “singles”. They expect young listeners not to read the credits or even take the time out to learn the words. This is similar to what the FDA is trying to do with our food. They know most people don’t read the nutrition labels on the food packaging so the food companies don’t want us to know what we’re eating because they know they’d be out of business. We’ve discussed in great detail about labels and executives not wanting us to know anything about what goes on behind the scenes. So much so that artists don’t even want to tell us whether or not they have a label deal!
What we have to ask ourselves this week is are we being appreciated as a fan? As a listener? As a woman? As a person? Women do you feel appreciated when you listen to Rappers say they want a “foreign” girl? Men do you feel appreciated when a Rapper says they’ll hit you with that Draco? Do you as a person feel appreciated when Rappers don’t annunciate their words? Do Rappers think we’re stupid? To some degree yes I believe some of them do while the culprits are mainly the execs at the labels and the radio stations which in some cases are one in the same. I bet if we burned the garbage Rap in protest we’d get someone’s attention and maybe they’ll begin to appreciate us more. Social media can be a platform for change but we have to garner that energy into a respectable collective so that the next generation of Rappers and Hip Hop fans can know, “you are appreciated.” *Cues Dear Mama by Tupac Shakur*