Entertainment and art are two very important spheres that can transcend and define a movement. Right now, our generation needs positive vibes and we need positive, uplifting music. The new tracks I’m hearing in 2016 are a lot more mellow, sensitive and open-minded than the tracks that were out say in 1998 or 2000, like Ruff Ryder’s Anthem or 50 Cent’s What Up Gangsta, or a number of any other gun-slinging, hoe-slapping “hits”. These are truly hits, hits to the Black morale, to the Black collective, to Black unity–they were hitting us like bombs–because it’s not the message we needed back then and definitely not what we need now.
Instead, I’m hearing more about the beauty of the Black female and more bars discussing the tragedy of police brutality against our brothers and sisters. Future, Drake, Kanye West are showing that healthy relationships are not only attainable but desirable, even though we still hear the “H” word and “B” word. What I want to see is a call from these artists, both locally and internationally, to unite and uplift the people. We need messages of hope, cohesion and encouragement. Not encouragement to stay in the traphouse and grind, but to work on that degree, get married to a brother or sister and focus on what is truly important which is not chains, trips around the world or cars with heavy artillery.
I still don’t think I’m at a point where I’d allow my son to listen to rap music. I feel the overlying message is still very destructive to a young psyche. But at the same time, the face of rap has changed. It’s not about pimps and macho guys in bullet-proof vests. As we evolve and reach a certain collective consciousness about our reality and what obstacles we face, I hope our music can reflect that and offer a portal of entertainment but also a sense of empowerment and exclusivity. We need music by us, for us, that is relateable. The struggle is always relatable, but it’s time to take the conversation to what happens when we are ready for a new Black identity and how to fabricate that into our music. That needs to be our new message.