Sometimes, I feel shut off, like nobody can truly identify with where I'm at spiritually. I feel like I exist in another realm or dimension where people can see me, but they can't feel me. It might be the greatest struggle I've ever faced. I'm not in fear of compromising my faith by staying true to it.
So much of the rap / hip hop culture and the lyrical content is based on drugs, women, guns, money, and the dark side of the game. How can an MC live and thrive in the world of hip hop and rap and be a good guy? Is it tricky to be a good guy and write music that resonates within a fanbase that is so supportive of bad guys and thugs? :
Geo: Ah, the age-old rap and "realness" discussion. Rap came, and still comes, from communities where drugs, guns, etcetera, are still prevalent. Many of these gifted storytellers are merely telling their story, a lot of which, but not all, touch upon the "dark side of the game."
Now that we're a whole generation into hip-hop's existence, younger people are not only telling these same stories, which still very much exist in the hood, but they’re emulating the exaggeration of it they've seen on TV growing up. Some, (many?), are just emulating with no actual "hood" experience. Lots of people buy into it, whether it reflects their actual lives or creates a fantasy for them. It's all gone haywire.
But is it these rappers' fault? I believe they do bear some individual responsibility, but in the grand scheme of things, they are pawns. From slavery to Jim Crow to the CIA funneling crack and guns into working class neighborhoods of color, these rappers had no choice in what kind of environment would eventually raise them. Then, along comes a music industry that, fearful at first, learns to profit off of selling a fantasy version of these rough lifestyles to kids who are generally discontent with the way things are. More so, they've been conditioned to express that discontent through the culture, ie music, they consume, rather than, say, organizing politically.
Geo continues: Whether Black or White or Asian or whatever. The mainstream image of rap fits perfectly with America's long mythological history of Black fear, which continues today as justification for a bunch of racist shit. And on and on. If rap is fucked, which it is, it’s because America made it that way. And now it's complaining like it had nothing to do with it.
I don't speak of these things firsthand because I don't live it, or, that I live a relatively milder version of it. I've seen the same things these rappers talk about second-hand and grew up surrounded by it, so I'll always be a close observer but I'm not going to front like it’s my life for the sake of "cred." But in a way, I am product of the "dark side" myself. Being that while some of my peers got into doing crimes, being knuckleheads, etcetera, I made the decision to latch onto music to avoid all that. I guess it worked.
Of course, I hear it often: our music is "soft." I don't give a shit. I'm cool with who I am and what/who I make music for, which is a challenge in itself that leaves me little to no time to dwell on whether I'm "real" in the eyes of someone who's been conditioned to think real is some fake-ass MTV/BET version of actual realness. I believe there is a growing audience out there of people who will eventually tire of the myths they see on TV and hear on the radio. Shit, I'm one of em.
And if you listen close, I AM talking about women, money, guns and drugs. Just from another perspective. Some other "conscious" artists try to position themselves as anti-hood rap or try to avoid talking about anything close to it. Some miss the point and focus all their anger on the rappers themselves and not the conditions that made them. I'm not that rapper. In fact, I listen to just as much, if not more T.I., Lil' Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Jay-Z as I do A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, or dead prez. But I do believe that there is an imbalance of the kind of voices being represented in the rap music industry.