Hip-hop being used as a scapegoat is nothing new. Since it’s inception, hip-hop has been blamed for everything from gun violence to drug consumption, and 30-something years later, artists like T.I. are still fighting to defend hip-hop’s role as an artistic interpretation of the environment that produces its artists.
The narrative of hip-hop as a scapegoat recently reached new heights, however, amidst the controversy over presidential candidate Donald Trump’s extremely misogynistic comments during a recording in 2005. When presented with the fact that Trump’s comments represented a casual acceptance of rape culture, his spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, inexplicably blamed Trump’s comments on, of all things, hip-hop.
This rape culture is purported by none other than the entertainment industry, none other than Hip Hop music, which you can hear on local radio stations.
While this was clearly a baseless deflection of responsibility, for some it’s turned the crosshairs back to hip-hop once more as a punching bag for the faults of society.
In a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, emcee Big K.R.I.T. offered his thoughts on why this argument holds no water, and why we should expect much more from our politicians than from our artists.
I'm not running for president. And a president isn't a rapper. However they express themselves is totally different from our genre of music and how we grew up and how we express ourselves and the neighborhoods we came from, the lingo, the slang. Obviously, hip-hop is an art form, you paint whatever you want on this canvas. I don't really think of politics as an art form. It's, "What are you gonna do for people, the society."
Of course, like T.I. and the many artists before him, K.R.I.T. shouldn’t have to be making this argument, yet it's apparently a point that still needs to be made, and K.R.I.T. offers perfectly succinct insight into why there’s really no comparison to be drawn between art and politics.
There most definitely should be accountability for some of the topics talked about within our culture, but at the end of the day, hip-hop is a product of its artists, which are a product of their surroundings and circumstances.
As we move forward as a culture, we can only hope artists like K.R.I.T. will continue to help bridge the gap between artful expression and social responsibility, but when it’s all said and done, this is art, a completely different realm of responsibility than politics.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: YouTube