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Hip hop, the musical heartbeat of a generation. Built from the work of trendsetters and visionaries. Over the years countless DJs, performers, and lyricists built a foundation of words. From those words a generation grew up listening to the rhythm and beats of the message.
It began as an underground art form that took on topics central to the Bronx community. Those early wordsmiths using their words to further the goal of human rights, to bring light to their plight. To create a world free from labels and segregation in all forms, a world to be who you were born to be, and to be treated fairly.
Over time, those words evolved into beats, those beats crossing cultural boundaries as more and more hearts found rhythm in the song. Evolving over the years in beat, words, tempo, style and substance. Creating beautiful works, expressions of the mind and heart. Each word, each verse contributing to the tempo of humanity. There are, however, some things we all could do better.
Don’t get me wrong, I love hip hop and the idea of words uplifting the hearts and minds of the people. Poetry in motion spoken by the woken to wake a sleepless people.
Like most institutions, however, their voice has been muddled by the expectations of masculinity. Most videos showcase the nicest cars, women half naked, and the nicest jewellery. While beautiful in a lot of respects, it still echoes those divisions built long ago. The man verses masculinity trap that ensnares our society.
We as a society seem to think that masculinity is the most important thing. Some men need to be an exaggerated version of themselves at times, using derogatory words and images to prove their “notes” are the biggest. Treating women as objects to be obtained or bought instead of earned, showing their worth only as a one dimensional representation.
Some look at love as being one sided, men only being able to love a women. Fearing anything less than full machismo. The concept of masculinity inherited from all those that came before, this outdated and limiting persona.
I feel however that it’s each generation’s responsibility to not only build upon the achievements of their parents, but to also evolve their understanding of themselves and one another. In a world so divided and at war we need now more than ever a voice to move us forward. A voice that propels us together as a culture, a society, a country, and a people, regardless of who you love.
Recently a few rappers have come out as gay like Lil Nas, but some have met his courage with fear. It takes immense courage to be who you are regardless of the fear of others, to identify yourself, to be known. I applaud those with the courage to live how they want, love whom they were BORN to love, and be who they are. To stand proud and live your truth, your identity, in a world so full of hate—it's the most courageous act I have ever seen.
Today’s men are so fearful of anything less than 'roid rage masculinity that they attack, insult, or belittle those who are different. Wearing their masks of masculinity that keep them, in their minds, the alpha dogs.
Love is love, no matter who you love, as long as its shared, respected and understood it becomes stronger than hate. Some feel that Homosexuality is part of nature, a form of natural population control that allows humankind to endure. People say that this is why it’s found in nature.
The idea of masculinity is just another trap, another system of control that chains the hearts and minds of the people. People so afraid of being judged by another that they hide who they are and whom they love.
Like Tupac once said “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside while still alive. Never surrender.”
Love is beautiful and so is Hip Hop. It doesn’t need to be one thing all the time. Like a song with one beat, a chorus with one word, life would lose its meaning without variety and freedom. Freedom to love whom you love and to be who you are. True creativity, true expression comes from identity, knowing yourself by living it openly. Each difference adding to the collective expression, the crescendo of our species.
As words and songs evolved we as a society evolved to one where love is carried with more pride than ever before. Our music should respect that at the very least. Everyone of us fighting for the same basic rights we all deserve: to live, love who you want, be who you are, to identify.
Your not any less of a man for loving another man or for treating women with the respect they deserve. Real men uplift women and respect others without the need to hide behind masks. The differences between us are meant to help us to evolve, to grow. In fact by embracing the differences between you and me, we can evolve who we are and the culture together.
Hip hop was created to be freedom, to effect change and to move people forward. We need to honour that legacy, that history of struggle by evolving the culture to be inclusive and to respect each other. The fight for human rights in all aspects be it the civil rights movement, the suffragette era to the rainbow road, each step takes us all forward.
Respect is something people think must be earned but that’s bullshit. Everyone deserves respect and it’s only necessary to re-earn it. The problem with today’s society is that we don’t respect each other, don’t love each other, and fail to honour each other when we turn away from one another. These excuses we give ourselves to fear, to hate or to ignore what we do not understand, makes us all weaker.
Being gay or straight doesn’t make you a rapper, it doesn’t change who you are, it doesn’t define you. You define you, You can still spit fire either way, no matter your sex, orientation or colour. The only concern that we all need to have is that we love and not whom.
You mean more than just your sexuality. We humans are more complex than labels or expectations. We deserve the freedom to live, love, laugh and rhyme without fear or ignorance. We need to take off these fake masks of masculinity that do nothing but perpetuate the false standards that keep our hearts and minds in chains.
Hip hop was an outlet, a tool to gain freedom, to cast a light on injustice and inequality. To further the hopes and dreams of all of us no matter whom you love.
“You either create a world for everyone or else you will end up in a world fit for no one.”
John Ames Birch