Monday, August 18, 2008

The Guy Who Makes Family Movies?

I'm no fan of Hip Hop. I never have been. I know that I am supposed to be a child of Hip Hop but when I watched the movie Brown Sugar, I felt none of the love Syd and Dre professed to feel. DH chides me all the time because I don't know the songs or the artists or, as he says it, "what's good." (I pick Kool Moe Dee over LL every time!) I say this to say that there is no nostalgic love between me and Hip Hop which makes it easier for me to denounce it as a scourge today. Okay, that's harsh. But I do see quite a bit of negativity in it. Crass materialism, ubiquitous misogyny, senseless violence, foolish anti-intellectualism--all detriments to the community. Whatever its historical value in giving voice to the people is obscured by its current influence.

But I could be wrong.

It seems that older members of the Hip Hop community are making turnarounds in positive directions. Ice Cube stands out the most for me. He was all gangsta in NWA, but now he is the star of several family movies (Are We There Yet?, Are We Done Yet? and The Longshots). What gives? Then there's Ice T who caused a hullabaloo with "Cop Killer," now playing Detective Odafin Tutuola on Law & Order: SVU. Now, Master P, who wants to be known as P. Miller, has done a one-eighty and is starting a television network Better Black Television (BBTV) that he says will provide positive, family-friendly programming. (I assume since it is Better Black TV, it is meant to be better than our current Black network, BET).

I think these changes are good, but I wonder what prompts them. Are these artists looking at the current state of Hip Hop and its influence and trying to find a way to counteract it? Are they just too old to keep moving the way they used to move? Or, are they becoming more mature as they age? Whatever the reason, their actions are enough to make me re-evaluate my perceptions of Hip Hop, at least, my perception of the old heads. I still can't find anything positive about "Soulja Boy."

What do you all think? What do you make of this change in image of Hip Hop artists? Will you watch BBTV?


Blackwatch said...

I think that what we are seeing is the realization that hip-hop artists don't really make much money, and that it is a young man's game. Ice Cube was on CNN and they were interviewing him about his latest album. They were filming him at his video shoot and it looked a little silly for a 40 year old man to drive around in a tricked out car wearing bandanas and such. As Will Smith learned early on, a more lucrative and lasting creative outlet for most of these rappers is acting (they have to do it so much in the creation and marketing of their albums that they are naturals at it :-)).

As far as Master P.'s network, he might have done better to invest in TVOne. Anyone remember the Black Family Channel? My point exactly.


The Diva said...

You may be on to something, Blackwatch.

It was my understanding, however, that Hip Hop began to give a voice to the voiceless. Does that ever get old? We still have issues in our community that need to be brought to the forefront, so why would Ice Cube look ridiculous in doing so? Because that's not what Hip Hop is about. Actually, it's about crass materialism, ubiqutous misogyny, senseless violence and foolish anti-intellectualism. The costumes that they must don to portray these values do have a short shelf life. I'm sad that something that was supposed to be a unique art form for African Americans(and I'm specifically talking about rap here, not the other aspects of Hip Hop that we never hear about anyway--breakdancing, grafitti and DJing) has become nothing more than a way to make a quick buck. Where my ARTISTS at?!?

Career-wise, I am glad they made a change, however.

Also, have you heard that JC Watts is also starting a Black news network? So, I guess that will be 4 networks dedicated specifically to Black folks.