Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hip Hopper-In-Chief

A few months back we explored the Baby Boy Legacy, a legacy defined by the unfortunate yet far too prevalent phenomenon of fatherless sons within the black community passing down their failed practices and bad habits to their sons, who in turn, continue to perpetuate the cycle by passing these lessons on to their sons. Absenteeism and apathy are the hallmarks of this legacy. Nowhere is this legacy more pronounced than in our generation, the hip hop generation. However, there is a new sheriff in town.

The Obama family is having an unmeasurable impact on the American people and indeed the world. The question remains, however, if their impact can penetrate the community that arguably needs it the most - the black community. And not just the black community in general, but specifically speaking, can the Obama impact reach our generation, generation hip hop, including the segment that is most prone to fall victim to the Baby Boy Legacy? In other words, is there any hope of reaching Black folks in the 'hood?

As one guest commentator stated:

"Oh, and don't expect to use the Obamas as role models of anything for poor and working-class Black people. While many Blacks of all economic levels voted for him...I've noticed that much of the messianic idol worship of him is principally among middle-income and affluent Blacks."

Although commercial hip hop has always enjoyed mass appeal, especially with White sub-urban kids all across America who continue to constitute its largest sales demographic to this day, true hip hop still remains largely as a vehicle for Black artists from the 'hood to express the views by the 'hood, of the 'hood, and for the 'hood. (see Young Jeezy & Jay-Z youtube video, supra)

Slowly but surely, we are seeing "Obama" integrated into more and more rap lyrics as a metaphor or simile referencing positivity, pride, and most importantly, inspiration for poor and working-class Blacks to do better.

"my president is black in fact he's half white,
so even in a racist mind he's half right,
if you got a racist mind that's alright,
my president is black but his house is all white.
rosa parks sat so martin luther could walk,
martin luther walked so barack obama could run,
barack obama ran so all the children could fly,
so ima spread my wings you can meet me in the sky"
- Jay-Z, Young Jeezy "My President is Black"

"You've been seein' me lately,
I'm a miracle baby
I refuse to lose
This what the ghetto done made me
I put that on my father
Tryna hope for tomorrow
When I think that I can't,
I envision Obama"
- Maino, "All the Above"

Positive references to Michelle and Barack have been popping up in more and more hip hop and R&B songs since the inauguration, which would suggest that the Black community, including the subset of poor and working-class Blacks, are being impacted by the positive role model that the Obamas are displaying. The question remains, however, if this inspiration will be enough to actually effect the Baby Boy Legacy. Even if the Obama effect can't stop the Baby Boy Legacy, does it at least have the potential to place a nice sized dent in the anti-intellectualism movement that has plagued the poor and working-class Blacks since the sunset of the Civil Rights Movement?

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