I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
ont he regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her
But I respected her, she hit me in the heart
A few New York niggaz, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her…
Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip
And on some dumb shit, when she comes to the city
Talkin about poppin glocks servin rocks and hittin switches
Now she’s a gangsta rollin with gangsta bitches
Always smokin blunts and gettin drunk
Tellin me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz
I did her, not just to say that I did it
But I’m committed, but so many niggaz hit it
That she’s just not the same lettin all these groupies do her
I see niggaz slammin her, and takin her to the sewer
But I’ma take her back hopin that the shit stop
Cause who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop
In 1994, the rapper Common Sense gifted hip-hop culture with a track that was simultaneously poignant and an immediate classic. The song I refer to is I Used to Love Her. A track that shows us not only the Chicago based rapper at his absolute lyrical best, but also caused the entire Hip-Hop community to reflect for a moment about what we had done to her; the her that Common was metaphorically referring to was an entity that my generation thought would never leave us, would never betray us, would never age, and Lord knows she would never lose that enchanting allure that kept us coming back for more of what she had, and truthfully she turned out every male, and more than a few females in her day as well; the female that I, and Common, are talking about is Hip-Hop.
Man, were we wrong. Although the shell of what we remember about her still remains, she in no way resembles that beautiful, politicized, cultured, and articulate siren of yesterday. If it did nothing else, last night’s Black Entertainment Television Hip-Hop Awards show definitively proved such. So it is out of pure love that I issue a rallying call to all of those who still have some affinity in their heart for Hip-Hop Culture to rally and make a concerted effort to stop this criminal exploitation of something that we all loved at one point in our lives. We need a direct intervention that calls for us to do more than merely taping the on-going crime with a cell phone camera; we are, and have been for some time, within a cultural crisis and we must take her back ‘By Any Means Necessary’.
My natural reaction to the question of ‘what should be done?’ is to rhetorically state any and everything. However, rhetoric will do little to get her back into the arms of those who love her. Considering the obvious utility of mentorship, it may be time for the luminaries of the Hip-Hop community to intercede and begin an extreme mentoring program for emcees that teach them the rules to this game; obviously, today’s emcees ‘are not ‘bout that life’. A mentorship and education that would hopefully lift those who represent the Hip-Hop community on stages throughout the world, a privilege earned by the legends of Hip-Hop, despite they not having anything to say beyond myopic misogynistic half-witted, darn near indecipherable guttural moans and unarticulated words that place an exclamation point upon their obvious cultural illiteracy and lack of any form of education. Not to mention the fumbling away of an incredible opportunity to issue a message to 20,000 people sitting in an arena listening to your every word. Quite possibly the most powerful position that today’s African-American youth could ever hope to occupy.
Considering that the most likely place to find today’s disciples of what is being termed Hip-Hop culture today is in front of a television watching ‘reality television’, I have a proposal that will satisfy their desperate desire to live life vicariously through others while also saving Hip-Hop culture.
What I believe that we need is our own, much larger and extended version of The Voice; unfortunately, I think that it would take a rap luminary like Chuck D darn near a decade to explain to YG why standing on a stage and repeatedly stating ‘nigga’ is not a good thing for the African-American community, I could see Rakim physically striking Rich Homie Quan as he grows increasingly frustrated with his inability/refusal to enunciate his words, heck, it may take a century for KRS-ONE and Grandmaster Melle Mel to explain to Young Thug the underlying issues surrounding gender dynamics, racial discord, and imagery; not to mention the process to break Nicki Minaj’s steadfast commitment to present Black women as the modern-day Venus Hottentot for anyone with a dollar in their hand would take every bit of energy that Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, the Real Roxanne, Salt ‘n Pepa, and Queen Latifah have collectively. Heck, I would even argue that Snoop should be on someone’s team as he seems to be totally confused regarding the issues of imagery, language, and how to “be” as a middle-aged man.
So I am placing a call to Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, Paris, X-Clan, Brand Nubian, NWA, Scarface, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Rakim, De La Soul, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, the Real Roxanne, A Tribe Called Quest, and anyone else, including contemporary emcees who understand the culture like Big K.R.I.T., that is willing to dedicate the rest of their life, because that is what it is going to take, to helping us recapture her from those who have exploited her economically, disrespected her at a moments notice, needlessly cursed at her, and forced her to dress like a common hoe, and pursue the mighty dollar like a THOT, to aid us in this process; she certainly deserves better.
‘Cause who I’m talkin’ about y’all is Hip-Hop’.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III