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The Art vs The Artist

Within Hip Hop, graffiti has always been designated as the visual element of the culture. The art of Rap is something that only a few can demonstrate. The art of rapping is a blend of delivery, tone, storytelling, and creativity amongst other things. As the culture has become more commercialized artists are afforded the opportunity to utilize multiple platforms and reach a different audience. Some “artist” believe that the only way to be “successful” is to say whatever will please the dominant society but if you add good old technology into the mix an artist will say whatever it takes to get your attention. This many times results in the artist supporting certain ideologies, becoming a tool for the active majority. This makes it hard to support those artist who don’t’ support your social, political, or economical values. This country puts so much emphasis in celebrity that they have become ambassadors for the socioeconomic and political interests of the companies and corporations that give them money. Imagine your favorite rapper with a bunch patches on them like NASCAR. The NBA now has corporate logos on their jerseys.

I’m not here to defend anyone or equate crimes but it’s not okay to support one and not support the other because we judge their “discretions” more harshly. If we are going to vilify Bill Cosby we have to do the same for R. Kelly, Russell Simmons, Chris Brown, Tupac Shakur, and others equally. There’s no DNA evidence for these alleged crimes but in Brown and Kelly’s case we do have a video. Even though the court found R. Kelly not guilty we continued to support his music for decades and only now are radio stations deciding to no longer play his music. The only “proof” that there is surrounding Cosby is him admitting in a deposition to consensually supplying a woman with a pill of some type. Some of the biggest artist of our time have either drugged someone, beat someone, and even raped someone but it only becomes an issue when things start coming into the light.

This was not to encourage you to support one side or the other but to think about how we can go about separating the art from the artist or if that should even be up for discussion. You could say Dr. Dre was a great producer and that we should ignore his history of abusing women or you could say I am not going to financially support a man who has abused women because there is a chance that he’s still doing it, rappers are people too. If R. Kelly hadn’t gotten all that money from stepping in the name of love and trapping himself in the closet on the down low would he still be able to do the things he’s being accused of today? It is a widely known fact that Woodie Allen married his adopted daughter and he has never been “penalized” legally, career wise, socially or financially. I mean we don’t have to do what the dominant society does and protect these people but we have to deal with them in our own way because clowning them on social media definitely isn’t going to make a difference.

“Keep your family and business completely separated.” –Notorious B.I.G. (Ten Crack Commandments)