Student group questions hip-hop’s cultural influence

Ellen Kirtner

Hip-hop culture of today does not represent the peace, love, unity and fun found in its early roots, as discussed by students in the Oscar Ritchie Multipurpose Room Wednesday.

“Love of money or love of sex maybe,” said Tyler Nathan, community service chair of the Kent State chapter of the NAACP.

NAACP President Robin Wright said last month’s “Hip-Hop: Friend or Foe” event inspired the group to pick specific questions on what hip-hop means and to continue the discussion.

The talk focused on the roots of the genre and its influence on gender roles. The students questioned the way hip-hop portrays African American culture as a whole.

“I don’t have a gun; I don’t shoot people,” one student said. “That’s what people think.”

The students voiced a concern on the caricature of black males created by the mainstream rap acts and perpetuated by popular media. While at one time hip-hop reflected the climate of the period, one student said it is currently off-balance.

“Fights happen,” a student said. “But they’re making club-bangers promoting it.”

Wright said she thinks it is important to use music as a way to openly discuss what is going on in a community. She wants the artists of today to take it a step further and to find the solution.

She proposed a way for hip-hop to get deeper into the issues.

“What does that mean? How did it get there?” Wright said. “What should we do to change?”

The students’ dialogue also focused on the hyper-sexuality of women in hip-hop, and the hyper-masculinity of men.

Nathan and Wright asked the female students, “Are the women of hip-hop representative of you?”

The female students were concerned that, while they were trying to be “young ladies,” the small numbers of female emcees in mainstream music were behaving more like “vixens in the videos.”

Wright said the discussion was not meant to discourage students from listening to hip-hop, but rather just to be aware of the issues it presents.

“I don’t want you to go out of here hating hip-hop. That’s not the goal; it’s to analyze,” she said.

One student responded to the group by reminding them that there is more to hip-hop than the radio hits.

“Hip-hop is so big,” he said. “Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it.”