[Opinion] When Hip Hop Stopped Being The Hood CNN
by Tamika Burgess
Music of any genre means different things to its fans, it’s all about how we receive and interpret what we hear. Music gives artists the freedom to express themselves however they see fit. It’s their platform to talk about whatever they want. So if they decide to educate, entertain, or do both it’s their choice. In all honesty, the majority of today’s Hip Hop music seems to only entertain, rather than inform us. And this could be the reason why many people do not look to Hip Hop as a news source anymore, as it once was in the past.
Another reason could be because we have several different mediums reporting information to us constantly. With just a touch of an icon on our cell phones we are able to spread news to each other faster than ever. But years ago, before all of this advanced technology we got our information from our nightly news broadcasts and newspapers. And because they selected what to report, not everything was reported. As was the case with certain problems that plagued the city of Los Angeles.
In the late 80s and early 90s the local news was not reporting the issues that the Black community was experiencing in L.A. We didn’t hear much about the Black men that were harassed by the police simply due to their race. The people that endured these situations with the L.A.P.D. did not have a way to share stories of what was going in their community.
Just as many music artists of the 60s and 70s used their music to spread messages and tell stories; in the late 80s Hip Hop artists were doing the same. Hip Hop music had become the news source for the culture. And no one told the stories of what was going on in L.A. better than five young Black men from Compton, CA. Dr. Dre. Ice Cube. Easy-E. MC Ren. DJ Yella. These five names mean more than just “gangsta rap.”
At a time when Hip Hop music was only coming out of New York, N.W.A. used music as their way to introduce the world to life on the West Coast. And for us Hip Hop fans that grew up in Southern California this was the first time we got to see and hear about a lifestyle we were familiar with. N.W.A. kept it real in their music. So real that we fans were not only entertained but were also taught about the growing problem of police brutality. N.W.A. was truthful when they told us about how the police treated them on a daily bases. They were definitely Niggaz With Attitude, and they had a very good reason to be so.
When the group released their first album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, they experienced much criticism and backlash for their lyrics. Many people thought of them as a bunch of thugs that hated the police and used inappropriate language.
N.W.A.’s song “F The Police” is probably the group’s most scrutinized song. While many tried to censor them, several others identified with the song’s lyrics because it described a life they were living. The realness Ice Cube gave us in his part of the song was relatable for many of the group’s fans:
“F with me ‘cause I’m a teenager with a little bit of gold and a pager searchin’ my car, looking for product thinkin’ every nigga is selling narcotics.”
“I ain’t the one for a punk MuthaF with a badge and a gun to be beatin’ on, and throwin’ in jail…”
“…young nigga got it bad ‘cause I’m brown and not the other color so the police think they have the authority to kill a minority.”