“I blame my mama for turning my brother into a crack baby.” – “Keep Ya Head Up” – Tupac Shakur
This is Black Music Month and just like clockwork people will ask the age old question, what happened to Black music,
especially Hip Hop? However, like previous Black Music Months, June 30th will find many scratching their heads, filled with more questions than answers. However, the real answer is quite simple.
Black music got hooked on crack.
Following the death of college B-ball superstar Len Bias, in 1986, a great fear struck America . There was a new drug on the street that was gonna turn the hood into a kingdom of the walking dead. As Public Enemy put it , an eternal “Night of the Living Baseheads. “Worst than that they would spawn a horde of crack babies who would be destined to become career chain snatchers and riders on the prison revolving door. And since mainstream America was just getting turned on to Hip Hop, the destinies became intertwined.
Well , a recent study has proven what many already knew. Don’t believe the hype.
In an article published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The idea of the “crack baby” has been exposed as myth. Although, the authors concede , that like with any drug, crack is not the best thing to put in your body, especially, while you’re pregnant., social factors such as poverty really play a greater role in determining the future of children.
But what about the music that was supposed to represent the mentality of the “crack babies”. If the crack baby syndrome was a myth, the music must be fictitious, as well.
Let’s be clear. There is no denying the devastating effect that the drug trade has had on the ‘hood, from the heroin explosion of the 70’s to the crack epidemic of the Hip Hop era. And the music of the periods served as soundtracks to the misery, from Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman” to Biggie Smalls’ “Ten Crack Commandments”
According to Seeka tha Teacha, captain of the Hip Hop Liberation Army,” Crack cocaine was introduced to Hip Hop for the purpose of destroying families and the well being of urban communities. It made drug dealers look rich in the eyes of the youth who were exposed to poverty.”
However, in this case ,we are not talking about the glorification of slangin’ rocks.that has permeated rap music since the late 80’s. That issue has been the subject of too many articles , books and documentaries to mention. Nor are we talking about the real life drug issues that have destroyed the careers of artists from Billie Holiday to DMX. Thus, murdering the message and the
The point here is how the whole idea of “crack music” is based on the media perpetuation of the crack baby (prenatal cocaine exposure) myth and the pathological behaviors associated with it have effected Black culture. And more importantly, how the stereotypical images associated with crack have affected our youth.
Some believe that the media hype around selling and using crack was really a self fulfilling prophesy. And if you pump crack pipe dreams in the heads of children, they will gravitate towards that even if they ain’t bout that life.
According to a recent Time magazine article , Dr. Maureen Black , professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine says that “once you label a child that way…there’s no hope for the child. “
Durham NC substance abuse activist, Shareef Hameed , agrees saying that “crack baby became part of the American vernacular.. It was like labeling someone before they even got started.”
Hameed says that the signs of crack addiction are nervousness , paranoia and aggressiveness, which, ironically, are the same attributes reflected in today’s rap music. It was also rumored to cause ADHD (attention deficit disorder. ) Which explains why the music seems to be attractive to those with low IQ’s and short attention spans.
Crack rap can be distinguished from Hip Hop by its lack of subject matter and overly simplistic, pickaninny choruses And the music industry has sold the idea across the planet that this is the type of music to which kids are addicted.
Unfortunately, many Hip Hop fans have bought into this false reality, as well.
The idea of crack babies has its roots in the negative stereotypes of Black people stretching back hundreds of years with the “small brain theory” which claimed that Black people had small skulls which limited their capacity to absorb information. Not much different than the racist stereotypes connected with Hip Hop.
So, the crack baby myth is really a socio-political construct , a euphemism for the pathological behavior of some young Black males. The term is not really about a specific drug. In theory it’s about a cocaine derivative but in practice it includes weed, malt liquor, molly or any mind altering drug that is promoted in Hip Hop.
What should be of major concern is how the crack baby hoax has served to demonize Black men. This is especially important with the upcoming George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin murder trial as the media has already tried to portray Martin as a crack baby only hooked on weed, in preparation for what will become the “Trial of the Century.” Also, of note is the recent media fascination with Chief Keef and his recent exploits including accusing a security guard of racist mean muggin’ when he was allegedly busted in a hotel room smoking marijuana.
Like any addiction, the first step to overcoming crack music addiction is admitting that you have a problem. We must admit that it hasn’t been crack that has had the most far reaching effects on the Black community but “crack music” that has propagated a hoax.
Unfortunately, a whole generation has gotten high on the hype.
This Black Music Month Hip Hop needs a detox.
It’s gonna be a long hot summer, socially and politically for Black people and we need our minds sober and ready for action.
Like Pac said on Revolution:
“Can you imagine the damage we could do if we weren’t high?”