Jay-Z, Run DMC, Rappers Made in America Sing a New Tune

Tue., Sep. 11, 2012 3:54 PM EST
by Munson Steed

Economic empowerment ought to be the conscious rap of listeners today. Details regarding skill set exchange should be the rap that rappers play. Jay-Z organized Made in America, but was it a legitimate statement or just a cliché. That’s what we wonder as we dance and applaud in a failed attempt to cloak our frustration over the fact that we lack the tools to succeed and survive.


But the beat goes on and everybody bounces along to the unenlightened rappers song, a constant reminder on the radio of where we went wrong. Dull, empty songs about anatomy to reflect our apathy about the things that used to be and our diminished mentality. Lyrics like “my girl got a flat stomach, ain’t no baby on the way.”


I scratch my  head and wonder why this summer, 80 people in Chicago are dead. And I ponder why all this tragedy is being wrought by members of our own community. And while these heinous crimes are committed against black women and black children, everybody wants to “pop bottles,” and “make it rain” to look forgiven. 


 Jay-Z’s pronouncement of Made in America as the theme for Labor Day, was undermined when Drake took to the stage encouraging the crowd to put their cares aside since we only live once and to just party that day. But what is the message we intend to send, when those who went from rags to riches declare the middle class is dead? 


It was police harassment and racial profiling  that had us up in arms relatively recently. Now Rodney King dies in a swimming pool with drugs in his sytem and we fall in line and follow suit all too conveniently. Black people continue to self-medicate in a futile attempt to relieve the pain, but disgust and depression are hard to escape and it all feels so mundane. It’s no secret that brothers are killing themselves in unprecedented numbers. RIP Chris Lightey, who’s gone on to that eternal slumber.


We conveniently forget that we are one community, and having said that there is no room for mediocrity. Maybe the song should say, “Be a scientist or a professional right now, or you’ll end up dead or worse abused somehow.” 

But even lawyers and doctors are not immune, economic disparity affects even tycoons. Corporate downsizing and sending jobs away, means we can all expect a reduction in pay. And if that’s not enough to rattle your cage, they’ll try to send you — if not to a box to a cell for display.


What does hip-hop really have to say? They say don’t stress on hip-hop for the problems we face, but even 2 Chainz tries to give you some examples of success today.

I am not certain that enough understand that success is not in the music game anymore, or in sports where only a few are fortunate enough to run up and down that floor. Success is in knowing what it will take for you to get and have more.


The consciousness that we tout as so paramount to our existence, is in need of a philosophical overhaul and some spiritual assistance. The fact that we know we can come together and make a difference means that we can’t cover our eyes, and make excuses for not being focused on the prize.

And Nicki Minaj with her pink and yellow, sherbert-colored hair, is using her celebrity status and her pop star platform to make sure you are listening. But the girls who are trying to follow in her footsteps, must undertsand that there are things that we all have to do to avoid being labeled culturally and musically inept.


And we are going to have to change how we view success, and be firm in our stand that it will not come from doing less. And while we are talking about those not graduating from school, know that that nearly 50 percent are destined to lose. Another song in the making, another life for the taking. Like Chief Keef’s hit “I Don’t Like,” without education more doom will make into that tune.  

 And again, 80 have died to this day. 


Munson Steed


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