When I use the term "positive hip-hop," I get some funny looks. First of all, there are the hip-hop haters who still believe nothing good can come from hip-hop. These are the people who heard a 2 Live Crew song in the 90's and think that that song represents everything that rap is. And as much as 2 Live Crew has its place in the rap history books, hip-hop is so much more than "Me So Horny" and those of us who are real fans, know that. But I also get funny looks from hip-hop heads when I use the term "positive hip-hop." I think a lot of the heads think that hip-hop can't say anything meaningful if it's positive. Like putting the term "positive" on something makes it corny and therefore meaningless.
Can you be positive and still keep it real?
Hip-hop began as a way to get the party started. It was music that was used to put us in a good mood. That's why a lot of old-school hip-hop is so corny. It was just a bunch of dudes (and, yes, a few girls too) having fun, partying, trying to out-do each other with words as they began to figure this new style of music out. It was a good time. One might even say it was "positive." But then that style became cheesy. It wasn't cool enough anymore and hip-hop had to fight back to remain relevant. Hip-hop had to grow up and be cool again. Hip-hop had to get real. And it did. This music told us stories that some of us lived every day and some of us couldn't believe were true. Hip-hop showed the world what was really going on. All the violence. All the injustice. All the ugly. Hip-hop turned on the spotlight and pointed it right at the things we didn't want to think about. It made us face it. It made us deal with it. It made us talk about it.
Hip-hop had to tell these stories. Music needs to be real. Music needs to speak to our hearts and minds and so hip-hop can't just be a party all the time. It needs to have all of its voices heard. But somewhere along the way, we forgot that hip-hop can still be a positive force. It can show us the problems, but it can also show us the solutions.
The music we love should not just be lost in a sea of frustration and anger. It should not just be a tool to exploit our sins and give us an excuse to give up. There is so much power in music and we can't forget to use that power for good too. HIp-hop can show the world the way to freedom. It can open up our minds and create a dialogue between all people. It can be used to remind us of all the amazing things that happen in this world every day. It can show us the possibility in our lives. That's why hip-hop needs a positive voice. We shouldn't look down on "positive hip-hop" as being a subpar form of music. It should be lifted up as a hopeful resource that can bring the changes into our world that we really need.
Hip-hop can save the world.
There is a place for all voices to be heard in the world of music. If you are a hip-hop hater, take a second to remember the millions of people this music speaks to daily. You don't have to like it, but you have to respect it and believe it is a crucial instrument of hope for a lot of people. If you are a hip-hop head who thinks all positive music is corny, remember, the world is a harsh place. And even if you don't feel like you need it today, the day will come that you will need a positive voice in your life. And that voice would best be delivered through the music you love. You don't have to like it, but you have to respect it. Because somewhere right now positive hip-hop is changing someone's life, and it may just change yours someday too.