This week a lot of our young men and women will be starting or returning to college. The opportunity to attend college for some of us was our chance to leave our surroundings and see life from a different vantage point. College gave us the chance to live out our dreams of a different world and to be an adult. For those who have attended or lived near a historically black college or university you know what I’m talking about. In the third part of this series, Hip Hop & Higher Education III: HBCUs, I discussed the impact of Hip Hop and Rap music on HBCU campuses. This blog may not be for everyone but it’s worth a read.
On an HBCU campus, as well as PWI (predominantly white institution) campuses, you will find Black Greek-Letter organizations. Some of you may not be familiar with fraternities and sororities but they have had a long standing relationship with Hip Hop and Rap music since its inception. You can see members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. in Biz Markie’s Just a Friend video while Lecrae and Busta Rhymes’ son is a member of the organization also. Hip Hop legend MC Lyte is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Kanye West’s mother, Donda, is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and never forget he wrote School Spirit. A lot of seasoned emcees have been to college experiences so they use that in their rhymes sometimes. Fat Joe “ran through the dorms down at Morgan State”, a well-known HBCU in Baltimore, Maryland.
It’s no surprise that Hip Hop has such close ties to Greek fraternity and sorority life. Black music and predominantly Black organizations, it’s that simple. One thing that members of these organizations do that people enjoy is ‘step’ and/or ‘stroll’. Each is about working together to achieve a common goal. Having to depend on your brother or sister and to have them depend on you. Trusting each other and knowing that the other can pull their own weight. Both stepping and strolling can require music and what type of music do you think they use? You can go online and search thousands of videos where Black Greek Letter Organizations are stepping and strolling to Hip Hop and Rap music. With the way Rap music has evolved it makes you think back to the good old days. I’m sure the BGLOs were stepping and strolling to the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Salt N’ Pepa, Jungle Brothers, and who knows what else! Yet there are college students now who are currently members of these sororities and fraternities or will unknowingly become members who are subjected to using today’s Rap music in their steps and strolls.
These organizations represent higher learning and to associate themselves with the type of Rap music that is in the mainstream is kind of contradictory. As a member of a sorority it has unofficially been recommended to us that we refrain from stepping and strolling to such songs. Honestly I feel like they’re kind of stuck just because most of the popular music does encourage listeners to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking and premarital sex which is something we here at The Society try to educate our participants on. If there was a more positive sound out there that could dictate the atmosphere at a lot of campuses because whatever the fraternities and sororities do the rest may follow. These organizations travel the country stepping and strolling to Hip Hop and Rap music and they could be using that music to influence their performance into something more influential and inspiring. We have to take back our music because it is pigeonholing us into a corner. We are being stunted in every direction and we need to wake up and do better. People look to these organizations in the community for help in a lot of instances and we can’t let the mainstream Rap music ruin the minds of these young leaders.