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.