God Forgives, I Don’t: Should Rappers Repent?
“A million names on walls engraved in plaques/ Those who went back received penalties for their acts” - "Triumph", Wu-Tang Clan
For years, Hip-Hop’s hottest rapper, the Boss, had made millions of dollars hustlin’ his misogynistic, minstrel murder music off as Hip-Hop. When people would accuse him of promoting the genocide of the Black community, he would, arrogantly, laugh them off and say they were just hatin’. Then one day, suddenly, things changed. At every radio station, he was confronted by local artists for not reppin’ real Hip-Hop. Angry crowds started gathering at his concerts, throwing eggs at his tour bus. Even at strip clubs, the strippers threw his money back in his face, and yelled, “Keep your blood money!” Dumbfounded, his record label launched a massive PR campaign to win back his fans, but the message from the community was clear..
"God Forgives, We don’t..."
Although, Rick Ross’s new CD, God Forgives, I Don’t, isn't’ scheduled to drop until the end of the month, the streets are already buzzin’ with anticipation. The title reflects the “revenge is a dish best served cold” swagga that you have to develop to deal with anyone who dares diss you.
Maybe, that’s not such a bad attitude to have, especially against those who continuously disrespect your culture and jeopardize the lives of your children.
It has been said that Black people are the most forgiving people on the planet. You can steal our land, put us in chains, call our women “nappy headed hoes,” and Grandma will still find it in her heart to invite you to Sunday dinner after church.
I’m not sure if that makes us saints or suckas.
Hip-Hop has also been very forgiving. Rap artists can give people 'hood passes for calling us the N-word. They can act like clowns on Nickelodeon kids shows, make pop records with Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, and still keep their street cred. Rappers can even be exposed as being former correctional officers and still sell millions of CDs, lyin’ about how they used to be big time drug dealers.
There is a thin line between a diehard fan and a dumb fool.
More importantly, today's Hip-Hop artists can destroy our culture and glorify a lifestyle to our children that has already landed thousands of them dead or in prison, and they still are able to walk around every city in America without having to face the consequences of their actions.
So the question becomes, should Hip-Hop artists be forced to apologize and make amends for the damage that they have caused in the Black community?
We have to admit the reason why Hip-Hop is in the state that it's in is based on one thing and one thing only - lack of accountability. Rappers are allowed to do whatever, whenever, to whom ever, without any fear of repercussion.
Any attempts to correct their ignorant behavior is usually met with the “who are you to tell me what to do" attitude, followed by the over used Tupac line “only God can judge me.”
Case in point was the recent confrontation between Philadelphia pastor Jomo Johnson and rapper Meek Mill on a Philly radio station. Johnson felt that Mill’s song “Amen” dissed his religion; Mill thought otherwise. Rev. Johnson had just as much right to feel offended by “Amen” as a Muslim minister being insulted by the burning of the Qu’ran or a Rabbi being outraged by someone placing a ham sandwich on the Torah.
Still, some people will argue that rappers are just entertainers expressing their First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech, and shouldn't have to apologize to anybody for anything.
Entertainers apologize all the time. Just not to Black folks.
There is a long list of celebrities who have had to apologize to the Jewish community, gay activists, and animal rights people, etc. When other groups feel even slightly disrespected, the result is swift and direct; bow down immediately. And even after years of grovelin’ and beggin’ for forgiveness, the final result is usually “apology not accepted!”
Just as people have called for “reparations” for the holocaust and slavery, we must call for “rap-arations” from the music industry for the damage commercial Hip-Hop has done to the Black community. They must be held accountable for the chaos they have created.
I’m not talking about just money, either. Nor am I talking about a rapper who has made a career out of songs about drug dealing going to speak at a drug rehab center. This, also, does not include a rapper who brags about smackin’ up hoes, donating band-aids to a women's domestic abuse shelter. I’m talking about an immediate end to the madness that they promote at the expense of our future generations.
This must happen sooner than later.
Frankly, I am tired of writing about the sorry state of Hip-Hop. I’m tired of artists rappin' about it. I’m tired of hearing people complaining about it. Like Redman said back in the day, it's “Time 4 Sum Aksion,”
There are rules to this Hip-Hop game. But the question has always been, who has the guts to enforce the rules?
The hard, cold code of the streets must also apply to Hip-Hop. No rapper who disrespects the community should ever feel comfortable coming into any city on the planet without being stepped to.
The most frustrating part of the Hip-Hop dilemma is that this problem can be easily fixed. For example, if all the student body presidents of HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) would get together and say “we will not invite any rapper who spreads ignorance to perform on our campus,” the problem would be solved overnight.
Unfortunately, after all the whinin’ about rap music is said and done, many of its harshest critics will sell the struggle out for an autographed T-shirt and a backstage pass.
Let’s make it perfectly clear. This is a war for the minds of our people.
And Hip-Hop ain’t gonna change unless you get off your butt and make it change.
So, it’s up to you.
Like Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz once asked on "Jeeps, Lex Coups, Bimaz and Benz":
“Is you down to go pound for pound/ toe to toe, blow for blow/ round for round?"
If not, stay off the battlefield!
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott's weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on his website at NoWarningShowFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).