Beware of taking the historical context out of hip hop

Music | By Akala Music, Musician | 19 May 2013

What we've got to be very careful as hip hop artists is that we don’t allow rap to held as a scapegoat by society. What I mean by that is, yeah there is some very negative hip hop music, yes, there is some very nostolganistic hip hop music, yes, there is some very materialistic hip hop music but all of that reflects the violence and materialism in our culture from start, it’s not specific to rap. I’m actually clear about that when you computer games company sales 2/300 hundred million units of Call of Duty or of Grand Theft Auto, they are not paying for the violence and all but you know, 50 Cents raps a bit too violently, he is responsible, we have to ask ourselves why that is?
With the type of conscious MC it’s been a complex time I don't think that just because somebody raps about violence, what they do is not valid. Biggie Smalls is one of the greatest MCs ever, undisputed, but his music might be violent and negative, but he's like the Quentin Tarantino of hip hop and there's a space for that. I don’t think that should be extreme hip because someone is ugly because some of life is ugly. I think the problem comes when we don’t have balance.

Growing up in the 90s, I think what was so beautiful is that I had Biggie and Snoop. I also had Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def and Wu Tang and Talib Kweli. I had a rounded picture of what the neighbourhoods from which hip hop was coming from was without Mobb Deep, Mos Def doesn’t make any sense but together they made sense. So I think what we need is balance not dishonesty. If someone’s from a particular life style the beautiful particular things there’s not reason I shouldn’t speak about that and it doesn’t make what I do more valid than what they do because in fact, if you listen to what my early music it’s very different music I make today, because it was my living environment is very different because of what was around was very different because, my mentality was very different.
I think what would happen with rappers is they think that if they leave a particular environment they have to still pretending they are in that environment or they have to still pretend that they are 19 and they angry and they have the same mentality. It’s like rappers are not allowed to grow and I think that’s very dangerous and, so I would define what I do as hip hop music but again I would define hip hop within the context of poetical traditions.

There could be a tendency and this is even some of us who love hip hop, there can be a tendency of not acknowledging what came before it, for us to almost be historically cheated in the way that hip hops is defined there’ve been loads of documentaries done in Britain, probably in America too whereas oh in the 1970s you know a man from Jamaica with dreadlocks carried 5 speakers to Bronx and then all of a sudden the same person happened. No one's got an idea how it happened because the people who did it didn’t have any culture before it happened. Do you see what I mean? So without jazz, without blues, without gospel and then without more Africans brought from Africa with them, hip hop doesn’t mean anything you know it just. It doesn’t exist.

We wouldn’t be stupid enough to define Beethoven without looking at what came before him, you know without Bach, without the centuries without even the influence of them all because of Hinduism, you know. Culture happens within a historical context and am about to very careful with hip hop because I’ve seen a billion documentaries where that happens.