In Hip Hop there is this hypothetical battle between good and evil. What I mean is that there are artist that kids can look up too, they sort of represent a conscience, pro active outlook on life as a rapper. They usually create music that either uplifts, progresses or influences in a positive way. Then there are the artist that represent this misconception that rap is nothing but “drug dealers, gangbangers and hooligans”. These are the artist that the outside world label as villains. I want dissect the meaning of good v evil in hip hop and who we might consider to be a hero and/or a villain.
The basic ideals of “Good versus Evil”, “Right versus Wrong” can be traced all the back from the beginning of time through out all aspects of life. From it’s most basic and playful form in comics to more grounded and phlosiphical conversations of morals. Us as the human race have no choice but to judge and label things good or bad as we see them. This standard also applies into our recreational activities, like listening to music. The only factor that might muddy up any conclusions we get about hip hop is that the base idea stems from an inherent evil. The creation of the genre stems from “street shit”, drugs, gang banging etc. I say these are inherent evils because on a grand scale they are but these are the things that African Americans have used to make it out of a seemingly impossible situation. To us we are turning that evil into something good, but in order to do that we must broadcast these “inherent evils” worldwide.
Over the course of the next 40 years hip hop has grown into this multifaceted vehicle that produces a variety of rappers that can be categorized as either a hero or villain of their genres.
Public opinion plays a huge part, probably the biggest in deciding who is considered to be morally good in hip hop. Rememberer hip hop was born out of an “evil”, so for artist to be able to make music that is not rooted in that evil [Conscience Rap] is something of a feat. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Jay-z etc, who found a way to translate the evil they come from something that has a positive message. Kendrick Lamar is on the forefront of conscience rap when it comes to the uplifting of his own race. Jay’z has demonstrated what its like coming from less-than-great circumstances and becoming literally a billionaire. If that doesn’t inspire you to want to make it out of your situation for something better than I don’t know what to tell you. These people are some of the best influences black men and women could ask for. It has to do with more than just music the picture they portray in the public eye has to be greater than environment. These artist posses the ability to leave a mark on their fans that inspire rather than promote the destruction of self and community.
P.S. I want to honorably mention J.Cole as one of the few rappers who base their career on relating with the everyday man and making a career out of that relation.
On the other side we have our villains of hip hop. Being a villain is really a complex variable. I mean heroes can sometimes be easily defined but villains not so much. On the surface level we want to call anyone who talks about guns, drugs , money and the degrading of women villains, right? I don’t think it’s really that cut and dry. I would have to argue that being a villain is simnifically affected by perception outside of music regardless of the kind of music you make. A couple of artist that represent how complex being a villain is are Kanye West and 50 Cent.
I mean from the beginning Kanye was perceived to be this arrogant asshole who has no regard for the way things work [I completely disagree with this]. He is someone that has no idea what being humble means, and abiding by the laws of the way things work. Regardless of the music he makes he is constantly make front page news because of the things he says and does in the public eye. In my opinion none of it warrants the title but again public opinion is a crazy. 50 cent is one of those personalities that are overpowering, kind of like Kanye. The difference is that 50 cent plays into it. I can not count on how many beefs he has been and is currently involved in. I mean he doesnt even claim his own son. He is notorious for talking shit and constantly disrespecting people. I mean you remember the whole “Get the Strap” era. He certainly isn’t on most people’s favorite list. His music, although the norm for hip hop, reflects those evils I was speaking earlier which only fuels the greater publics perception of him. Unlike his fellow villain Kanye who’s music is ofter seen as one of his praise and influence.
At the end of the day hip hop as a genre does what it was created to do. It was created as a way to tell a story of what we as African Americans were going through. And for the most part it still does that. Of course it has its aspects of entertainment which is good and bad but as for hip hop’s heroes and villains.. they all are fighting the same battles in one way or another.
I want to know who you consider to be a Hero and who you consider to be a Villain of Hip Hop.