Sunday, October 05, 2008

VH1's 100 Best Songs in Hip Hop: The Evolution of Black TV

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Two major things happened in Black television in the last week or so.
Rap City was canceled, TRL was canceled and VH1 presented the
100 best songs in Hip Hop
.

All of these are interesting because they relate to hip hop. I remember
when I first learned that 106 and Park audience surpassed TRL's about
7 years ago, and I thought to myself, hmm thats interesting. In fact, I think
Carson Daly had just left the show for Hollywood.

Recently, I read a quote in S. Craig Watkin's book which said that black teenagers
in general and boys specifically occupy a very interesting place in the American
culture. On one level their presence is reviled, their bodies are policed (laws on
sagging pants) and they are systematically undereducated (only 35% of Black men
starting 9th grade in NYC graduate) yet their "cultural product's" are in demand from Madison Avenue to Japan.

In watching the segment on NWA, I was reminded of how far from mainstream
hip hop was in the early days. I was particularly tickled when Kurt Lorder
of MTV asked Ice Cube a question about the educational system and he
responded "We ain't activist, we give social commentary, we like the news".
I find that this sentiment squares nicely with my my post last week, titled,
"Hip Hop Isn't Political". What was particularly interesting as well was how
none of them were making money except Eazy E and Jerry Heller.

Here NWA was, making their social commentary and not getting paid. I am
almost willing, let me repeat, almost, willing to go out on an ledge and say
that there was something pure about their music, at that time.

They had no radio play, they sold millions of albums, the free speech
folks rallied behind them, and they were not motivated by the money
because they (the majority of them) were not making any money.

The marginalization of early hip hop and its subsequent popularity
reminds me of how easy it is to go from being shunned by capitalism
to being used by it. In many ways Black men are like Detroit, when
capitalism no longer needs you, you will be left to figure out what
to do with yourself.

It happened to The Chinese, The Japanese, Black folks and it will probably
happen to Mexican folks in the next 30 years. Cheap labor is America's best
friend.

Back to Rap music. The fact that Rap City was canceled reminded me
of all the programming that was once on BET that is no longer shown
such as Rap City, Teen Summit, Midnight Love and BET Nightly News.
Don't get me wrong, I don't look to television for social justice or spiritual
up lift, but there is something especially gully about willingly canceling
all programming thing that may have some social value beyond promoting
consumption.

Black people stay loving/supporting those who don't love them back.

7 comments:

I am not Star Jones said...

the last line of the post makes me wonder why...why do people hold on to myths and institutions that are so damaging?

it's as if because BET exists, it might as well be supported. I don't know anyone who is an avid consumer of BET (I do know people who work there and they aren't avid consumers, though) but why does anyone make an active choice to let BET into their lives?

M.Dot. said...

but why does anyone make an active choice to let BET into their lives?
========
The same reason why we sing "bitches ain't shit but hoes an tricks" but then we say, "he ain't talking about me".

The moment we hold someone else accountable, we have to do the same for ourselves.

Much easier to hold up a magnifying glass than a mirror.

tmac said...

Funny, I was thinking about this too. Even thinking about popularity and 90s artists, and it's like exactly what you said earlier... because you could only be so popular, there was no possibility of going platinum, so a lot of different groups/artists representing a bunch of different types of experiences could enter the space.

Even thinking about someone like Lyte. I forgot how how sexual Lyte's content was overall, but because she didn't objectify herself, when Kim and Foxy came in, she was no longer viable.

Model Minority said...

Desire to go plat killed the diversity.

They turned hip hop into a f-cking finishing school.

illaim said...

“and they were not motivated by the money
because they (the majority of them) were not making any money.”-------------

I would argue that they where motivated by money, but they weren’t at the point where looked at money as the paramount concern when crafting there music.

“Black men are like Detroit, when capitalism no longer needs you, you will be left to figure out what to do with yourself.It happened to The Chinese, The Japanese, Black folks and it will probably happen to Mexican folks in the next 30 years. Cheap labor is America's best friend.:”---------------

Might just be the realist thing I’ve read in a min.

Smh seems like everything boils down to money over people these days

Model Minority said...

“Black men are like Detroit, when capitalism no longer needs you, you will be left to figure out what to do with yourself.It happened to The Chinese, The Japanese, Black folks and it will probably happen to Mexican folks in the next 30 years. Cheap labor is America's best friend.:

Might just be the realist thing I’ve read in a min.
=======
Thank you love.

Gangstarr Girl said...

They played themselves with the ranking of a lot of those songs. Ugh. I want a do over.

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