Maybe it’s because we have been listening to Bilal. Or because we were disappointed in watching dream and Kweli fight on Twitter. Or because we the recent Rick Ross lyric controversy has us wondering what happened to love in hip-hop. There used to be hip-hop love songs, Meth and Mary’s “All I Need,” is going to play at my wedding. And ATCQ wrote entire albums about love. Hip-Hop love didn’t always mean between a man and a woman. ‘Pac and Biggie both wrote about loving their glocks. But it was still love. At one point, it was all love.
Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African-American Community attempts to examine the question in its title. What happened to love? Not just hip-hop, but in Black life, in a community where the numbers of married people is not just declining, it isn’t happening at all. In the hip-hop community we celebrate the marriage of T.I. and Tiny and Jay-Z and Beyonce because as examples of committed relationships, marriages, they are the exception not the rule.
So what happened to the love? Black love? Hip-Hop love? In this book with over 40 essays from illustrious writers, poets, and entertainers, love and marriage are examined. The three categories: Single, Married, Divorced touch on themes of hope, happiness, and regret.
The author talks about the “SBF: Single Black Female,” found in every city. Many of them are also known by their other moniker, “SBW: Strong Black Woman.” You know her when you see her, out on a Friday night with her girlfriends, smiling and well-dressed. Saturday morning in the beauty salon reading Essence, Sunday morning in church or watching it on TV. She goes about life doing her–working, getting degrees and promotions. But as she gets older, her mid-30’s in fact, the likelihood of her getting married is decreasing every day. And it’s not just bad news for her. According to the author, marriage is essential to maintaining the vitality and the character of a community. Lack, thereof, could be its downfall.
So, AllHipHop.com got with the editor of this anthology, Gil L. Robertson IV, to ask him the Top 5 Ways We Can Get Back to Love.
AllHipHop.com: Bilal has a new song called “Back to Love” where he asks the question, “How do we get back to love?” So, how DO we get back to love?
Gil Robertson IV: We get back to real love by focusing more on the substantive things in our lives. A lot in hip-hop focuses on “bling” and other themes that have no role in real life. We need to reevaluate our priorities and also become more connected to what our real purpose is in life. After that, I believe everything will fall into place.
AllHipHop.com: R&B, let alone, hip-hop seems like it is more about sex than love… is this indicative of the times? Is it a good or bad thing? or neither? In the book, references to R&B are “old school” what can “new school” R&B say about black love?
Gil Robertson IV: A great deal of the R&B music being release today is indicative of our times, but I don’t think it’s delivering a healthy message nor is much of it representative of what R&B music is all about. We have allowed commercialism to derail R&B music. Traditionally, love themes played a HUGE role in R&B, but over the past two decades the tone and content of the music – it’s integrity has been allowed erode into something that is not representative of its roots. It’s my opinion that real R&B music is CENTERED around love and much of it delves into scenarios that talk about the quest for love that we all seek, as well as the great value and benefits you receive when you find someone who is willing and ready to be your life partner.
AllHipHop.com: Very little hip-hop is about love. What place does love have in the culture?
Gil Robertson IV: I think hip-hop culture is deeply rooted in love. Early hip-hop expressed a message that was rich in self and community empowerment. Also “love” was signature to many early hip-hop music hits, for example, ”All My Love,” by Queen Pen featuring Eric Williams or ‘Why Did It Have to Me,” by Sweet Tea, “The Lover In You,” by Big Daddy Kane and of course, “I Need Love,” by LL Cool J.
AllHipHop.com: Couples like Jay-Z and Beyonce and even Kim and Kanye seem to have made marriage and family in hip-hop seem like more of a power move than based in love. What’s your opinion on black power couples and how they affect the image that the rest of black America have of love and marriage?
Gil Robertson IV: From what I’ve seen of Jay-Z and Beyonce’s marriage seems a great example of what a loving and productive relationship should be. I don’t follow them, but it appears that they’ve been able to strike the right balance in their professional and personal lives. I also love how they keep their personal business private. The same for Kim and Kayne – it looks real.
I would hope that entertainment personalities are not the only examples that people see of black love. My hope is that people (young people in particular) can reference couples that they can really “touch,” like their parents or a member of their extended family as an example of the value and benefit that comes from being in a loving relationship. If those examples aren’t available, perhaps they can find someone in their community or a couple who attends their church.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of the book deals with parents. How can the hip-hop generation, as parents, be a better example for our kids?
Gil Robertson IV: Parents must remember that their first priority is to remain steadfast in our commitment to our families. I can’t stress the importance of becoming more connected to our purpose. We also need to stress the importance of sticking to the goals that we set forth for ourselves, one of which should always be providing a positive example to our children.
What do you think about love and marriage in the Black community? In the hip-hop community? Are you married? Do you think you ever will be? Chime in. Join the conversation on Facebook: Blackloveisforever and on Twitter @wheredidrlovego