Dead Prez had a line in “It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop” that went – “Uh, one thing ’bout music when it hit you feel no pain/White folks say it controls yo’ brain/I know better than that, that’s game”. When this lyric was spit by M1 of Dead Prez, all who listened to it repeated the same phrase, or something similar either out loud or in their minds; yep, they’re trying to make rap music the blame for the problems in our neighborhood, it’s not the music.
Because hindsight is 20/20 can we say that now? I say not!
If we, Black men continue to say that hip hop lyrics and music does not play any role in the way we act on any level, then you my friends, are in denial. And when you read this and still say that it doesn’t play a significant part in the way our communities have been shaped over the past 3 decades, then not only are you in denial but you’re a blooming idiot and more than likely a part of the problem that plagues us. Any rational person who wants to be, or is, a part of the solution should be able to correlate hip hop and the landscape of the United Mind-States of African America, with the violence and misogyny that is prevalent within our communities today.
To make it easy for you I’ll sight a few instances that can show a direct cause and effect type of outcome.
In 1991 Ice Cube said “I told all my friends, don’t drink 8 Ball cause St Ides is givin ends” in his song “Steady Mobbin”. Shortly thereafter St Ides became the #1 selling beer in the Black community, this gave rise to commercials by just about all the top rappers of that era. From Ice Cube, to 2pac, Dr Dre, Snoop Dog, The Geto Boys, Mc Eiht, The Wutang Clan, Biggie Smalls, Cypress Hill, EPMD, Redman and even Eric B and Rakim got in on the money grab. St Ides was paying rappers to endorse their malt liquor and it worked to the tune of millions and millions of dollars in sales. This was the very first time that I had noticed the power of hip hop. I never correlated the fact that the reason that I was drinking Old English 800 was because NWA rapped about it constantly, or that we went out and bought Brass Monkey because the Beastie Boys wrote a song about it. But when Cube said that line in his song and then did subsequent commercials, I saw firsthand how hip hop lyrics influenced our buying habits, so why wouldn’t they affect other things as well.
The very next year Redman came out with a song called “How To Roll a Blunt” in which he rhymed about how to use a cigar as rolling paper for weed instead of using joint paper. Before this song people smoked joints instead of blunts, although blunts had started hitting the streets before the song came out but it solidified its place in black communities after Redman wrote about it. Blunt cigar makers have made 100’s of millions to billions in revenue off the sale of Blunt cigars since that song was made 20 years ago.