Homecoming or Homecoonin’: Can HBCUs Save Hip-Hop?
“She’s so self conscious/has no idea what she’s doin’ in college” - "All Falls Down" - Kanye West
On the block, he was once known as “Big Ferg." Now, after a couple of years at Hillman College, he prefers to go by his government name, Hamilton Winston Ferguson III. He no longer has time to kick it with the homies like he did back in the day. Nah, he’s too busy discussing philosophy, economics, and heavy intellectual stuff with his new, upwardly mobile college chums. However, every homecoming weekend you can find him in the club, gettin’ tipsy, and rockin’ to Rick Ross. No different than the brothers on the block he left behind...
It’s that time of year again. A time for football, elections and most importantly, college homecomings. Matter of fact, at most HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), homecoming even surpasses graduation weekend as the social event of the year.
However, the question that I have always had is, how do our institutions of “higher learning” always manage to find the lowest form of entertainment for their homecoming shows? Is there some unwritten rule that you have to get straight ig’nant every homecoming weekend ?
Don’t get me wrong. I get it. After spending four hours a day slavin’ over books in boring classes, every homecoming weekend (or in many cases, every single weekend), students feel the need to get their party on, and blow off some steam. But some people have to cope with harder situations. What about the Brothers and Sisters trapped in the ‘hood who say that the reason that they walk around with a 40 and a blunt all day, with Gucci Mane blastin’ through their headphones, is to escape the pain of ghetto life ?
What is sad is that Black colleges have always been viewed as the breeding grounds for future leaders who are gonna take African Americans to the next level. So why do they support rappers who are hell bent on leading our children down a path of destruction by paying them major dollars to perform at their homecoming shows every year?
Contrary to popular belief, Hip-Hop artists (unless they are 50 Cent status) don’t make their money from CD sales. The newer artists make their dollars by touring clubs and college campuses. And homecoming season is their time for cashin’ in.
So although, we try to blame the current state of Hip-Hop on Hen-Dog from the ‘hood who is always downloading Waka Flocka Flame CDs, or Lil Bobby from the ‘burb’s who gets $15 from mumsy very Tuesday to vicariously rep the ‘hood through Lil Wayne, the real culprits are the college brainiacs who actually bankroll the mysogynistic, minstrel murda music.
Some like to give rappers like Chief Keef a pass, sayin’ that they are just reppin’ their hoods. Problem is, if you are reading this while chillin’ in your dorm room, listening to a Chief Keef mixtape, you ain’t. Actually, you are guilty of exploiting the people who really have to live that way for your own entertainment pleasure.
Traditionally, college students are supposed to be representing the best hopes and aspirations of an entire race. Although many students are beatin’ people over the head this fall about how our ancestors “died for our right to vote,” what about those who died for our right to read a book? What is your responsibility to them?
This is not to say that all college students have neglected their responsibilities.
Back in 2004, a group of women at Spelman College protested against Nelly’s "Tip Drill" video, causing the rapper to abort his visit to the campus instead of facing the music. Also, back in 2009, students at FAMU and NC A&T demanded to know why their student funds were going towards modern day minstrel shows.
The responsibility also rests on Black students on predominantly White college campuses, as they also have the worst forms of Hip-Hop at their homecoming events. If Black college students on these campuses allow rappers to run across stage droppin’ the N-bomb all homecoming night, they should not be upset when their college professors greet Biffy the next Monday morning with “ good morning Mr Armstrong, “ but give Tyrone a fist bump and say, “what up my n*****.”
Can Black college students really change Hip-Hop? Of course they can.
There are many examples of entertainers who became superstars based solely on the support that they received from White college campuses. (Hootie and the Blowfish being just one example.) They even created their own genre called Frat Rock. That begs the question, why have Black college students not rallied behind political Hip-Hop artists that kick knowledge, instead of supporting every hot new artist on the radio talkin’ nonsense? Maybe they could create a genre called "HBCU Hip-Hop" that represents the mission statement of their schools?
Also, perhaps they could use their Hip-Hop classes for forums to develop ways to use rap music as a way to make social, political, and economic changes in society, instead of as a way to get an easy A or kill time discussing who is the greatest lyricist of all-time, Jay-Z or Biggie?
Fortunately, on every campus, there is always that courageous person who is not afraid to speak the truth. There is that small group that appreciates real Hip-Hop. Somewhere, there is an underground organization that is willing to go all out, to make sure that Black children have a future. This is the movement that will bring change. And when those revolutionists link up with like minds on other campuses, you will see not only a change in Hip-Hop, but the condition of the Black community in general.
Unfortunately, most college students are tryin’ too hard to be like “the streets” instead of inspiring the streets to be like them.
Rakim told us back in the day that “follow the leader is the title, theme task." But what happens when there are no leaders to follow?
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For more information on the "No Warning Shots Fired" lecture series, contact email@example.com or visit No Warning Shots Fired.com. Follow on Twitter (@truthminista).