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Questlove (of The Roots) Explains How "Hip Hop Failed Black America"

(AllHipHop News) Questlove released his first memoir Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove back in June of 2013 but has not put the pen down. Today (April 22nd), the walking Hip Hop encyclopedia that is Questlove examines how Hip Hop has failed Black America.

Last week, Forbes announced that Dr. Dre, Sean Combs and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter had a combined estimated wealth of over $1.7 billion. According to Questlove, Hip Hop has developed into a popular genre whose popularity has become so pervasive that it is used to describe the entire Black race. After claiming artists such as Rihanna and Beyonce are labeled Hip  Hop because of their association with Hip Hop artist, he explains how the culture of Hip Hop has become subjugated:

And that’s what it’s become: an entire cultural movement, packed into one hyphenated adjective. These days, nearly anything fashioned or put forth by black people gets referred to as “hip-hop,” even when the description is a poor or pointless fit. “Hip-hop fashion” makes a little sense, but even that is confusing: Does it refer to fashions popularized by hip-hop musicians, like my Lego heart pin, or to fashions that participate in the same vague cool that defines hip-hop music? Others make a whole lot of nonsense: “Hip-hop food”? “Hip-hop politics”? “Hip-hop intellectual”? And there’s even “hip-hop architecture.” What the hell is that? A house you build with a Hammer?

One of Questlove’s fears with this development is that individuals who wish to eradicate the Black culture would “need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.” Questlove explains the difficulty to provide meaningful music and make it popular in Hip Hop. However, he does admit that Kendrick Lamar may be the exception to the rule:

The winners, the top dogs, make art mostly about their own victories and the victory of their genre, but that triumphalist pose leaves little room for anything else. Meaninglessness takes hold because meaninglessness is addictive. People who want to challenge this theory point to Kendrick Lamar, and the way that his music, at least so far, has some sense of the social contract, some sense of character. But is he just the exception that proves the rule? 

The article is a part of a six-part series from Questlove to be featured on Vulture. Check out the full article here.

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  • STFUUIgnants

    All points will fall on deaf ears…they’ll say “You just mad cause yall old niggas aint selling no mo records gtfoh” or some “ignant” shit.

    • southside4lyfe

      So true because at the end of the day its just all about the dollar bill in most people’s eyes and people will do anything for that mighty dollar even put on a skirt and then say I’m doing this for my heritage.

    • Craig

      why u worrying about the doubter instead of adding to the discussion? if the points fall on deaf ears its no need to even mention the deaf ears.

  • southside4lyfe

    Nicely put quest love and I love how this article hasn’t even been touched by other people yet, but if this was about Mimi on a pole people would be all over it. Anyway Hip Hop has failed black america due to the fact that it has become a giant fashion show about what you have and how man haters you have.

  • Brindle

    whats sad is the the “ig nigs” will swear he’s only complaining because: he broke, he old, he a hater, at least they getten they money, etc…

    • Live Well

      Exactly, and thereby proving his point. No critical thinking skills at all.

      • Brindle

        lol, don’t even get me started on that… I’m astonished on a daily basis by my own homies, family, comments on AHH, WSHH, etc, and the lack of thinking they are able to do. Every opinion starts at the letter A, ends at the letter Z but when you question the thought process, they lack B-Y… But it’s all there when we talk about sports, yet when it comes to society, entertainment, art, economics, politics and culture, all you hear are their emotions that they’ve chosen to believe are facts… I could go on for days about it… We gone get right sooner or later, I got faith…

      • Brooklyn Stoop

        “Every opinion starts at the letter A, ends at the letter Z but when you question the thought process, they lack B-Y… But it’s all there when we talk about sports, yet when it comes to society, entertainment, art, economics, politics and culture, all you hear are their emotions that they’ve chosen to believe are facts…”

        gotta agree with this statement

  • The Arsonist

    Questlove made 10million last year, far from broke, what he speaks is truth.

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  • artcryme99

    Hiphop has been colonized, puppet leaders and acceptable government in place

    • Brooklyn Stoop

      “Hiphop has been colonized”

      Damn!

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  • digitallife

    Mic Geronimo said it best “7 figure money started ruining rap”

  • Rico

    Hip Hop is like that ‘secret weapon’ in cartoons, that if it ever fell into the wrong hands would destroy the world…..

    Although its free and open to all, some dont know how to handle it. Everyone doesnt have the same thought capacity and intelligence to use it correctly, and when there is not a proper balance you have the Hip Hop we have today. While Im happy it has kept people employed and eating, once it was sold commercially, it was over. Its like the local Mom & Pops restaurant that had the good food. Once they started to franchise it lost its original essence. Not to mention the lesser talented rappers who dumbed down the art to appeal to their fan bases. When the ‘hustle’ replaced actual talent.

    Its a culmination of things that are wrong. Just happy I had the chance to witness it from the early 80’s onward, and have the intelligence to distinguish the difference.

    • BIG MIKE SOMETHING SERIOUS

      Agree.

    • PEACE!

    • Fosho3528

      Perfectly stated.

      • Rico

        Thanx fam.

    • Respect.

  • End of Days

    Thank you Questlove.

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  • Fosho3528

    I’m actually really impressed that at this point in the comments, there have been no ignorant points made. Props to everyone who posted before me.

  • Craig

    I’ve been saying this, just like at award shows they put all forms of hiphop in one box thus having a person like Macklemore winning over jay Z Kanye and Kendrick when I dont know any black people who listen to a gay ass Macklemore cd wihile driving in the car. HipHop needs more genres at award shows just like every other form of music has multiple genres.

    An quest brings up a great point “that individuals who wish to eradicate the Black culture would “need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement” And that is very true, just like with the hoodie with Trayvon and the word Thug used to describe an opinionated college educated athlete like Richard Sherman or any black man who stands up or themselves, its true almost everybody associated with black hiphop artist immediately gets put in the hip hop category which is wrong, the same with confused kids an their sexuality gets put in the gay box immediately which is wrong when the fact is they should be set straight, just like with weed it used to be a rasta thing and hippie thing but now its a hiphop thing which is wrong. KRS ONE said Russel Simmons was the 1st to sell out HipHop to corporations

    • Mark Grejda

      I agree with a lot of what you said, but you forgot to mention that today’s rap music absolutely has nothing to do with the hip-hop culture we watched grow essentially making all rap artists sell out to the sound that’s popular. Very few rappers these days are pushing any kind of progressive envelopes at all. B-boying, graffiti and dj’ing has left rap music in the dust comparatively.

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  • Karl Rennard

    Hip Hop failed the urban proletariat because it sought to seek acceptance amongst the aristocratic class thus watering down the substance to be safe. Or the other extreme become so rebellious that is becomes a thugged out cartoon!! Why force your way into a party to be recognized by a bunch of socialites that never cared about you at your lowest? Just party and organize where you’re at and let them figure out that they are missing out on something really cool and of great cultural significance!!!

  • Nemesis_Enforcer

    REALTALK? Look at all of the intelligent conversation that an intelligent article sparks. This is almost a microcosm of what is possible in Hip Hop itself. Ignorance begets ignorance. Intelligence begets intelligence.

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  • Jeff Esterby

    Sad to hear about the state of hip-hop these days. I, for one, am glad that to report that blues music has still remained pure all these years and has never been appropriated and/or systematically destroyed by pop culture.