As I stated when I started writing “Rivers of Thought” several months ago, I intend to write about a wide variety of topics from the environment, to sustainability, to history, to whatever. So today I am writing about Hip-Hop, yes, Hip-Hop…a pretty strange topic coming from a classic rock junkie to be sure.
A year ago I knew nothing about Hip-Hop, never listened to it, never cared for it. I can remember telling my sons what back in the day that rap and Hip-Hop burst on the scene that it is a fad, just like disco, and it would disappear. I probably even told them that if they were still listening to it in 10 or 15 years, then come tell me how great it is. I, like a lot of people my age, had a preconceived notion about the music and frankly about the performers. I probably had the same view of this genre that my parents had of rock back when the Beatles and the Stones invaded America.
I never thought I would become an adult that would judge people based on appearance. My generation was looked down upon because we wore our hair long, grew beards, wore bell-bottomed jeans, and had our own way of communicating with each other, from “hey man”, or “dude”, to “groovy” and “peace” to the even more obscure. Our songs had meanings that only we could understand. To our parents it was too loud, all about drugs, or sex, anti government (ok they WERE all about drugs and sex and anti-government but don’t tell my folks!)
I can remember several years ago taking my son and a couple of his friends to a Jay-Z and DMX concert. I never felt so out of place. It was too loud, I didn’t understand any of the words, and everybody was dressed funny. I can’t remember now if it was Jay-Z or DMX or Redman or Method Man, but one of those guys wore his pants so low he spent the entire show grabbing them and hitching them back up. Don’t know if any of the songs were anti-government, but I know that sex and drugs were covered. At least I think they were, even when I could understand the words, I couldn’t understand the words.
Just about a year ago my son, Brad, launched his career in Hip-Hop. Through his various gigs I have had the opportunity to meet a number of local Hip-Hop performers and have gotten to learn a little about the business of Hip-Hop, yes the business of Hip-Hop. These guys (and gals) are working incredibly hard at pursuing their dreams of expressing themselves through music. Most of them are working full time at other professions, while spending the remainder of the waking hours performing, writing, producing, marketing, selling, networking, negotiating, and promoting their music. Watching Brad navigate through the business side has been a fascinating experience. He’s had some wonderful experiences and some “learning experiences”.
Underneath the sideways, oversized hat, the baggy shirt and pants, underneath the necklaces and “bling” are business men and women tirelessly working for the love of the music. Shame on me for falling into the trap of generations and judging based on the clothes, or based on the music.
So to Jaecyn, Rusty Redenbacher, Son of Thought, Ace One, Saint Recon and of course, Brad Real thank you for letting me hang and for the honor and privilege of sharing your music with a 51 year-old former long-haired hippie freak.