Innovating Through Artistry

The Rap on Rap

In Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Music on October 4, 2007 at 8:25 pm

dreamstime_640868.jpgSince hip-hop began in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods of New York in the 1970s, the genre has had an association with gang culture and violence. Lyrics heavy with lurid tales of “gang-banging” have often included references to drive-by shootings and drug dealing. Rap, grime and other urban genres are often the music choices of “the hood”- our society’s black poor ghetto youth.

Do rappers themselves promote a negative lifestyle?

Ever since the deaths of two prominent American rappers, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, in the mid-1990s, mainstream hip-hop has become increasingly commercial. Rappers such as P Diddy, Jay-Z and 50 Cent have become multimillionaire businessmen with their own empires. These high-fliers argue that they promote an excellent lifestyle for teenagers – because, despite under-privileged upbringings, they have created successful business careers.

Yet is it a positive influence to promote a money-driven lifestyle, considering that more hip-hop artists have been murdered in the past 30 years than artists from any other genre? Is it a good things that many hip-hop artists rap about violent feuds, involving guns and drugs to the most underprivileged, uneducated segment of our population, as their vehicle for promoting wealth?

I recently saw on our local WGN morning news, in Chicago, a short segment on rapper mogul Percy “Master P ” Miller. Miller’s No Limit Records has sold over 75 million records worldwide. Unbelievable to me- I have never even heard of the guy before- though I can’t say I listen to rap, so really my reaction is no surprise. Yet, Miller is one of Hip-Hop’s wealthiest moguls. At one point, his net worth was estimated over $250 million dollars.

Master P was on WGN news talking about his committment to cleaning up the lyrics in his rap songs, to set a better example, and about his new book called Guaranteed Success. According to Master P “It’s time to educate our people in financial investments, real estate, and taxes.”

“I’ve matured, and it’s time for a career change and to think out of the box,” said Miller. “If I want to run the music industry, I’d hang out at the music award shows with Jay-Z, Puffy, and 50 Cent,” said Miller. But instead, Master P wants to ensure his family’s future while embarking on a national campaign to build generational wealth.

Master P is also opening up youth centers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York that have gyms and libraries. Master P spoke passionately about wanting the youth, that listens to his music, to play some hoops, pick up a book and get an education.

If rap, and the arts as a whole, had more citizen scholars in it just like Master P, what would our world be like? You may not be into Master P’s delivery or what can seem like a box-set-of-hype about building wealth through real estate, as seen on those late night cable tv infomercials, but for the market he is passionately targeting—he has it just right. Master P can truly change his world.

Is it your turn next? What are you waiting for? If such a negative thing as rap, and what it promotes, can attract so much money, think of what your passionate beliefs to help mankind, using your highly developed artistic creativity, can do.

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