I stumbled upon this video interview clip of Geraldo Rivera talking with Josh Zepps on Huffington Post this AM. The title had me incredibly irritated upon reading so I had to watch the interview to see what this was all about. Now I will NOT go on to bash Fox News or any sort of political stance what-so-ever…that shit is tired and irrelevant to the fact of what Geraldo said. While Mr. Rivera didn’t say anything really out of pocket and raised a good point that more prominent figures need to step up to the calling of leading the youth down the right path, he fails to realize what hip-hop is. Not only has Russell Simmons (who was mentioned in the clip) been a part of countless positive campaigns within the culture of hip-hop, he has also been one of the leading figures blending hip-hop culture with class. Take a look at the outfits he has been wearing the past 10 years. How about the way he talks? Talk about a bridge from the urban culture to the corporate culture…talk about an example that you can be who you are yet be a grown business man. As my mentor (who doesn’t even know he is my mentor) Steve Stoute brought up in his excellent book ‘The Tanning Of America’ that hip-hop has been the biggest cultural bridge this globe has ever seen.
Hip-hop at its essence is black music derived from pain and suffering. Much like blues and soul before it, hip-hop was the sound of a group unheard. A selection of the population that lived in poverty, had no voice, and little self-worth in the eyes of ‘corporate America.’ Hip-hop was the sound that unified and celebrated a subculture and has literally changed the global landscape of racism. Take a look at the average hip-hop concert attendees; the blends of races at these shows are unlike any other genre of music. The influences hip-hop has made on fashion transcends ‘street wear’ and have been largely responsible for the mainstream movement to ‘grown’ street attire we see popular now-a-days as well (think Jay-Z ‘Change Clothes’ or what Kanye West brought to the table with ‘College Dropout’ and every album since…keeping fashion in mind).
Hip-hop has not only brought various races together, changed fashion multiple times (in more than just ‘gangster’ attire), it has provided a voice for the unheard. It has also provided a mindset that no matter what you are doing, things are possible. Hip-hop is bred from an entrepreneurial spirit where ‘making something out of nothing’ is damn near the thesis of the genre.
At least I could understand Geraldo’s views that some of hip-hop does contain destructive messages, but he shouldn’t overlook that hip-hop is again the voice of those who are from destructive environment but we cannot stop all ignorance. This not only includes the ignorance of statements from the likes of Geraldo Rivera but also the ignorance of those who glorify hip-hop culture for the wrong reasons and miss the message. Hip-hop has changed the globe, promoted self-empowerment, and has brought the conversations of the unheard to the mainstream. It is up to us as fans or products of these environments to empower ourselves and let us make the change.
Let me know what you think on here or Twitter as I would love to further discuss this topic!