When the party was over and all the guest left and we finally cleaned up, I remember not wanting to sleep and wondering what to do next. I asked my grandparents, before they went to sleep if I can watch television in our living room. I was handed the keys to a world that was unknown to me, but will be part of my life forever. It is very difficult for me to imagine life without this beautiful art form, that in its purest form uplifts people. Hip-Hop was what greeted me at the end of my first full day coming to America.
I immediately fell in love with Hip-Hop because of my mother’s love of Soul and R&B music. It only felt natural that the songs sampled in tracks were an ode to the past. This was what she was singing and listening to as a young woman with children. Just to give you an acoustic representation of what it was like growing up in my house hold, the artist constantly played by my mother to name a few were, Earth Wind & Fire, Teddy Pendergrass, Isley Brothers, Mary J Blige, Sade, and Groove Theory.
“Popular culture today from memes, to fashion, sound and how people speak are what came from the soul, style, and sound of the Black Man and Woman.“
Hip-Hop has a lot of components that include DJ’s, producers, the artist, the publicist, the A&R, the engineer, the bboy, photographer, the mixtape designer, or the clothing designer. It’s an industry, a lifestyle, an art form that can mold to be everything and anything. This music genre is one of the youngest, but look at the global impact it has had on humanity. You cannot deny its existence and resilience. It allows for the ultimate self expression and has created a lot of opportunity.
The first representation I seen of Hip-Hop via the old tube television was in the Philippines. It was Vanilla Ice’s music video for his song “Ice-Ice Baby.” During my first sit-down of watching American television, it became clear that the art form was designed by African Americans, Latinos, and people from the Caribbean. Hip-Hop made me curious about complex things intellectual poets were letting audiences know. I was learning to improve my English and I spent that by watching a lot of music videos. Imagine being 7 years old watching the video for Onyx’s song “Last Dayz” and hearing Fredro Starr start the song in a Lexus SC300:
“I’m America’s nightmare young, Black and just don’t give a fuck.
I Just wanna get high & live it up
So fuck a 9 to 5 and whitey tryin to slave us, with minimum wages
Slammin my ****** up in cages
Changin their behavior to sptting razors, that’s outrageous”https://genius.com/Onyx-last-dayz-lyrics
It was because of my curiosity and lack of understanding with what artist experience that they put in their rhymes that led me to seek wisdom. I asked my friend Michael J. that was in middle school about this, since I would have gotten a beating from my mother or grandparents due to the curse words. He educated me a lot on real life shit that he learned from friends and Hip-Hop. It made me realize the world is a cruel place and there is a lot of things I could not comprehend but wanted to know why?
Planting a key trait in my life and educating me about life without even knowing, was just the beginning. The sound had a style and a lot of my own personal taste in fashion, interest, the way I carry and feel about myself is a reflection of it. Popular culture today from memes, to fashion, sound and how people speak are what came from the soul, style, and sound of the Black Man and Woman.
You would never ever have to buy any self help books if you listened to Hip-Hop. The adversity of people coming out of poverty and making it embodies the American Dream. As an immigrant and person of color, the stories and people have always been an energy that I keep close to my heart. It’s this tunnel vision, grit, and determination of making nothing into a big something.
Hip-Hop to me will always be about the art and impact the individual has with their work that contributes to the overall positive growth of the culture. As an artist have you impacted your community? Have you elevated those around you? I speak highly of these individuals that give us knowledge with their book of rhymes, because they eloquently champion the common man’s idea and allow it to be a topic of discussion. I admire the spirit of lyricist that face extreme adversity to become successful and leave their legacies behind for future generations to consume. They bring together people to question everything that has plagued those that came before us. I want present and future generations to see how important this teacher, coach, mentor, friend and anything it can be show you the God in you.
Peace & Love,