The Graffiti Writin' on the Wall: Is Hip-Hop’s Time Up?
“For those who pose lyrical/ but really ain’t true/ Their times limited/ hard rocks, too” - "Times Up", OC
A long time ago, on a rooftop in a place called the South Bronx, a group of Hip-Hop wise men were sitting around listening to "Rappers Delight" when they had a vision. One day, the culture that they loved would become so ratchet that it would destroy itself. The year they predicted - 2012...
If you believe all the hype about the Mayan calendar and the world coming to an end this month, you are probably not reading this article. Chances are, you are either hiding under your bed, or at the mall maxin’ out your credit cards. Because if the world is gonna blow up anyway, why worry?
Truth be told, people have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of time. However, most end-time prophecies are not referring to the destruction of a planet but the destruction of a "system."
As Dr. Anthony Browder wrote in his book, Nile Valley Contribution to Civilization, one of the most important lessons that history teaches us is that no civilization lasts forever. He discussed how internal weaknesses made the great 3,000-year-old civilization of Egypt (Kemet) vulnerable for conquest by the Persians, who were conquered by the Greeks, who were conquered by the Romans, who were later conquered by the "barbarians" (Vandals, Visigoths, etc.) The list goes on.
The Bible is also full of Apocalyptic predictions.
In the Book of Daniel, Daniel is said to have translated the “handwriting on the wall” to warn King Belshazzar of his demise, because his deeds had been “weighed in the balance" and “found wanting.” Also, the Book of Revelation predicted a final battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil, preceding the fall of the Roman Empire.
There have been many other end-time predictions from Nostradamus to Rev. Harold Camping, the radio minister who predicted that the world was supposed to end last year.
Whether you believe in end-time prophecies or not, one thing is certain. There is a universal truth that everything in the physical universe with a beginning will have an ending.
Commercial Hip-Hop is not exempt.
There has to be a point where the culture has regressed so much that it will make the listener so intellectually comatose, that he will not be smart enough to download a song off of iTunes.
Seems like we are almost at that point.
So, it’s not a question of when the commercial version of Hip-Hop that is destroying the culture will end, but how.
I used to believe that some conscious, lyrical super rapper leading an army of real Hip-Hop fans would rise out of the North and banish all the Ratchet rappers to a small town just outside the Atlanta city limits. But, based on the complacency of those who claim to want a return to the good ol' days of lyrically complex rhymes, that probably ain’t gonna happen.
The real rap revolution may be lead by the proverbial ”lumpen proletariat.” All over the Internet, there are videos of real gangsters threatening to shut down fake radio gangstas who have made millions of dollars perpetratin’ the fraud. If this continues, no venue on the planet will book a rap concert if the owners think that there is a possibility that some drama might pop off. So commercial Hip-Hop may be destroyed by its own self-destructive tendencies.
Or maybe, the cries of parents and community activists who have expressed concerns over lyrics for years will finally get through the thick skulls of record executives who will be more than happy to throw your favorite ratchet rapper under the bus the moment he becomes an economic liability.
Perhaps people will just stop listening to it. Although, rap artists may refuse to grow up and leave Hip-Hop Neverland, their fanbases are maturing. The teenager who bought Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter in 2004 is an adult now. And, thanks to the Kanye Wests of the rap world using intellectually stimulating words like “Illuminati” over the last three years, some of their fans were actually inspired to pick up a book, if only to see what all the hoopla was about. Also, retailers like Target and Best Buy have already read the writing on the wall, and have either understocked or refused to carry Nicki Minaj’s latest CD for fear of wasting shelf space on an artist who has overstayed her welcome.
I believe that the end will come because of the faith of the Truth Speakers, whether they be writers or rappers. Those who still believe that even the rapper who spits the most ig’nant nonsense on the radio or the hardest thug on the block is not incorrigible. And, it will only take one right word of wisdom to lead him towards the light of Truth.
Like Puff Daddy said on “Victory,” “The sun don’t shine forever.” Fortunately, darkness doesn’t last forever, either...
This marks the end of the “This Ain’t Hip Hop” weekly series for 2012. The column will return in 2013 - if the world doesn't end.
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, NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).