Letters for Saturday, May 24, 2008

• True hip-hop culture

• Teach malignancy of ignorance

True hip-hop culture

In response to the letter titled, “Hip hop rap, a malignant cancer,” Letters, May 22:

I strongly disagree with your generalization of what you call hip-hop rap. I agree with many of your points about the quality of rap music heard on commercial radio, however, this is not a representation of true hip-hop culture.

If you research the history of hip-hop culture, you will find that is has, for three decades, provided many positive outlets and venues for youth who would have otherwise fallen victim to the streets and/or gang activity. I am a witness. I embraced hip-hop culture at the young age of 8 and have since identified with the music, as well the culture. I have since earned my bachelor’s degree as well as two master’s degrees, and I still am inspired and motivated by “real” hip-hop artists, not to be confused by the “garbage” heard often on commercial radio. Let me reference Erykah Badu’s new song “Soldier” which gives props to youngsters who “never miss a day of school.”

As a youngster I was greatly influenced by KRS-one, who became a hip-hop artist in the South Bronx after being mentored by his group home counselor, the great DJ Scott La Roc. KRS-one continues to create positive music and also lectures at universities across the United States.

Queen Latifah started from ground zero and has since influenced millions of America’s youth through her positive music and business endeavors. She is now CEO of her own media company. Additional artists such as Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, Theory Hazit, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, KRS-one, Zion I, continue to create the art form in its truest since. Wax Poetic magazine is a great publication that promotes positive hip-hop.

I worked as coordinator for KKCR’s Teen Radio program for a few years. I had the opportunity to travel to a national youth radio conference on the Mainland a few years ago. There were hundreds of teens from across the U.S., of many cultures, who were hip-hop DJs and advocates of positive hip-hop in its truest form. The artist, “4Words” who performed at the Hanapepe cancer event has been a DJ on KKCR’s Teen Radio program since the age of 14. He has been committed to providing an alternative to mainstream hip-hop. Through his involvement as a hip-hop DJ on community radio, he has learned valuable life skills, communication skills and has conducted live interviews with international artists.

What you referred to as hip-hop cancer didn’t start in the black community. It started in the midtown Manhattan offices of major record labels where CEOs and A&R directors consistently turn away intelligent, positive and artistic youth on a daily basis. The prostitution is continued on corporate-owned radio stations who only play what’s handed to them by the corporate pimps. Like many artistic creations that have emerged from grass roots efforts in the community, hip-hop was abducted and transformed by corporate America. If you choose to listen to only commercial and mainstream radio then you will be affected by what you call a “hip-hop cancer.”

Dayne Greene


Teach malignancy of ignorance

To Garrett Williams (“Hip hop rap, a malignant cancer,” Letters, May 22):

Did you listen to the lyrics of the hip-hop rap that was performed at the Relay for Life? It has everything to do with surviving cancer. It appears that you may have neglected to realize that children of cancer survivors have to deal with the ramifications of the disease as well. What better way to reach out to these children than to deliver a positive message through a style of music they like to hear? Better yet, deliver this message through one of their peers whose mother survived cancer?

How can cigarettes be used as a comparison to hip-hop rap? Have you ever heard of a “good” cigarette that benefits your health? Well, hip-hop rap with positive messages does exist. From my teenage years, through college, and still today, hip-hop has always been a source of social consciousness and an inspiration for poetry. Of course there are hip-hop artists that choose to curse, aggrandize violence, degrade women, etc. These type of artists exist in every genre/category of music. Though I love all types of music, these are not the artists I choose to listen to or purchase in any genre or category of music.

Ignorance is the cancer here Garrett. It is ignorant for a radio station to play rap music and think that they’re “cleaning up” the song by bleeping out certain words. This doesn’t change the message of the song. It is ignorant for record companies to flood the market with negative artists that pollute our youths’ minds when there are so many creative and positive artists who truly have something with substance to say. It is ignorant for anyone to place all hip-hop rap music into one category and think that all of the material is the same or even of the same topic matter.

The lifestyle of hip-hop in its original form evokes poetry and dance. The next time you’re looking for something to do, catch an open mic at one of our local business establishments that hosts them (i.e. Small Town Cafe, Tree’s lounge, Grindz Cafe, etc.) You’ll find eye-opening and thought provoking poetry, some of which originated as hip-hop lyrics. Check out one of the hip-hop dance contests put on by KUGA. These functions keep many of our teens away from drugs and channels their energies in a more constructive way.

At this juncture, being that you are part of a growing number of people who have moved to Kaua‘i from elsewhere, I would like to mention, be mindful of where you are and the lifestyle that we as Kaua‘i natives like to preserve. It is what makes Hawai‘i a unique and special place to live. Familiarize yourself with the term “pono.” We must teach our youth the malignancy of ignorance. You’ll be surprised by the intelligent choices that you inspire them to make.

Barbara Green



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