At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards the coveted Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award will be presented to Rihanna! If you aren’t old enough to remember when Michael Jackson was given the award and have it renamed after him than you don’t understand how monumental this award is. I’m not going to say that Rihanna doesn’t deserve the award I just think that the “advancements” in technology have changed the way we consume or watch music videos and the impact a music video once had isn’t the same. Entertainers who have obsessive fans bases will always have an audience and Rihanna is one of those entertainers. So, what does it mean to be a vanguard? What is a vanguard? A vanguard is a person or persons who are at the forefront for new ideas and development. A vanguard has to be innovative but an innovator may not necessarily be a vanguard.
A vanguard is someone who is willing to make sacrifices and take risks for the greater good. Beyoncé took a risk when she performed Formation at the Super Bowl in February. N.W.A. took a risk when they performed F***k da Police at their show in Anaheim in the early nineties. You have to be willing to make sacrifices and be prepared for what may or may not happen afterward. In the nineties Hip Hop Culture had vanguards, we had people looking out for the culture and risking their careers to keep it alive and thriving but you can tell that things have changed since then. As society has become greedier so have the industry bloodsuckers. This country was founded on capitalism and if they can capitalize off of Rap music and make a few bucks, who cares about the culture?! Some of those same vanguards from the nineties are still around but mainstream media has pushed them out the door with their money and power because money is power in a capitalist society.
Does anybody care that Rappers are getting on with ghostwriters? Does anybody care that Rappers sound exactly like another Rapper? Does anyone care about messages in the music? Hip Hop Culture doesn’t have a designated “leader” but there are role models such as Jay Z, Common, Kanye, or a Chance the Rapper, Vic Mensa, or a Talib Kweli. There are so many fresh and vintage Rappers from the south, west, and north that can be considered vanguards but not all of them want the responsibility. I find that funny because everyone wants to make money in the Rap game but they don’t want to keep the culture alive. Hip Hop and Rap music has saved the lives of so many that those who have been saved don’t want to see the others that need saving also. You have to lend a helping hand to your brother and sister without exploiting them. Just because they’re young in the game doesn’t mean that you should put them through the industry BS that you went through. This is not a gang initiation, this is Hip Hop. Stand up and protect the culture and the livelihood of others. Someone looked out for you so look out for someone else…besides yourself.