It’s not that kinda party.
Long ago I vowed that I would not to try to “legitimate” hip hop for those who don't understand it. I cringe whenever I hear Dyson or Russell Simmons begging people like Bill O’Reilly and Oprah to accept hip hop.
I place these hip hop defenders in the same category as those who plead with classical music snobs to recognize the complexity of jazz or prog rock, comic book fans who offer non-superhero graphic novels to as evidence of the medium’s “serious” or “adult” sensibilities, or black people who use black military service as proof of our historical loyalty and patriotism.
All of these groups seek acceptance by adopting the terms and frameworks of ignorant, but more powerful or influential people. Their efforts are Sisyphean, and their insecurity and need for external validation are pathetic.
I’m breaking my vow for you. I’m giving you this mixtape not because I seek your approval, but because I know that you’ll appreciate it because you are a critical thinker. Your inaccurate beliefs about hip hop stem from a lack of exposure and an ideological bias, not an inherent antagonism toward the people who produce it.
When you “school” me on those genres you defended, you’ll likely tell me to look beyond the clichés of sci fi lit (as a well-read negro, I am quite familiar with Ms. Butler) and zombie movies to appreciate the underlying social and political commentary on such topics as consumerism, conformity, memory, otherness.
Please take your own advice when listening to this mixtape*: go beyond the surface; pay attention to how the following songs use the language of rap to deal with transcendent questions concerning life, death, suffering, human nature, mind, matter, free will, God, and time.
*Don’t think that this kind of content is limited to “underground” hip hop; this just happens to be some of the stuff I have handy. The same approach is evident in the works of more popular artists like Outkast, Scarface, Nas, and even Jay Z, the epitome of mainstream corporate rap.
**Some rappers even draw inspiration from Sun Ra. How's that for insularity?