The killing of Mike Brown and the outrage, protest and injustices in Ferguson are becoming a hot topic in any and every aspect of conversation. I got a few topics that I want to cover in due time but first I want to tackle this because it doesn’t involve as much research and “doing my googles” [Shout to Fredro Starr]. Hip-Hop fans and ney-sayers have once again decided to attack the music as being the ultimate problem in today’s society.
One thing that I don’t like to hear or read online is “Positive hip-hop doesn’t sell”. Who told you that and where have you been? If you have been listening to the radio and you have been paying attention to the game you would know with the exception of MAYBE 10-12 people that not only is “Positive Rap Selling”, it’s selling WAY MORE than “Street Music”.
Now first thing we need to do is define what we as a majority consider “positive”. For sake of an argument, I’ll deem positive music as the following.
1. A song or album in which the artist does not kill or poison his community
2. A song or album that is fun, lighthearted, funny or creative
3. A song or album in which a gun, a knife or physical force is not used on another human being
Ok so I think that honestly covers a lot. Cussing just like sexual innuendo is all subjective. Some people don’t want sex driven music, yet we are ALL on pins and needles when we hear its a new J.Lo or Nicki Minaj video out so let’s not split hairs on this one.
Lets start with the obvious one that people claim they don’t like. If positive rap doesn’t sell, then how do you explain M.C Hammer? M.C. Hammer was one of the biggest and most polarizing figures in the WORLD! He was the first rapper I remember seeing doing national commercials and getting major endorsements. Although his vice was helping the hood too much, Hammer was the richest rapper EVER at one point in time. He’s still touring. Word on the street is Hammer is really not a joke in these streets but he CHOOSES to be positive in his music and it worked.
This next person dropped an album in 3 different Decades, all of them sold and he went on to be a Hollywood Powerhouse! If positive rap don’t sell, explain Will Smith? I personally always felt the Fresh Prince and Will Smith were DOPE! He was classic hip-hop story telling. From a boy to a man Will had HITS! MAJOR HITS and sold MILLIONS! He was selling millions of records doing positive rap music in the late 90’s. An era people deem as the grimiest ever and “only the street cats survived”. Not only is that not true, Will out sold the majority of those guys, Including Jay-Z. I still say Big Willie Style is one of the best albums of 1997-1998. A lot of you will say no because you only remember “Miami” and “Getting Jiggy With It”. It’s at least 10 other song tracks on the album though.
Let’s take it to some cats that y’all love. If positive rap don’t sell, what about Outkast? Outkast is a very lyrical yet street savvy group that brings a lot of dark to light in a very mainstream friendly way. Outkast is also the only rap group to have an album go diamond. That’s 10 million records or better. They actually sold more, the more they went to the left with their presentation and content. You can’t deny that they are both NICE and they give you something to think about. Don’t let cult followings fool you. No group is hotter than Outkast by the numbers. You can’t front on them lyrically either.
Ok. Let’s talk New School because it answers a bigger question. “Positive rap don’t sell” but, I thought y’all told me Kendrick Lamar was the King and Savior of Hip-Hop. Did y’all forget about Good Kid M.A.A.D City that quick? It sold over a million. Hit singles and was critically acclaimed. I own the album and it’s dope. It’s definitely a great definition of what some of you would deem “good clean hip-hop” [I know oxymoron but, I don’t use the phrase, I’m just trying to identify]
Macklemore got a lot of backlash for possibly “Pushing The Gay Agenda” but The Heist was a very “positive” album of lyrics and storytelling about a variety of topics. If you didn’t buy it for some stupid reason and say “He sold cause he’s white” just shut up….I’m done talking to you right here. Bottom line, you asking where’s the positive hip-hop yet you chose not to support it. Period.
Lets get to a cat that a lot of you won’t listen to because you are putting him in a box. Lets talk Lecrae. Lecrae is dope! He’s a hip-hop head by nature that loves Jesus [like many others say they do] he’s just proving it on pretty much every track. Im still from the school of HOT or NOT and Lecrae is HOT! Get yourself off your shoulders and if nothing else download the Church Clothes mixtapes on datpiff. [Yes! He’s on datpiff.com just like any other emcee]
What about the cats people are quick to say are there “favorite rappers” but conveniently don’t sell Gold or better most of the time. The Roots, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharohe Monch to name an esteemed few. Then we got Brother Ali, Atmosphere and even the new older, wiser, peaceful Cormega. Maybe more of you should be focusing your energy of getting up to speed on the movement that is Strange Music. That’s a whole entire roster of what people would perceive to be “Positive Rap Music”.
How many “street anthems” have outsold “Bust A Move” or “Baby’s Got Back”? Who doesn’t know the hook on Biz Markie’s Just A Friend? Why was Nelly on tour with Florida Georgia Line performing songs that are easily 10-12 years old in 2014? Have we forgotten about Drake, Kanye West and everyone’s favorite DMV Poet Wale? Didn’t “Real Hip-Hop Win” when J. Cole went Gold for Born Sinner?
Sure every rapper might have a moment of gun talk here and there. For some it’s creativity, for others it’s real life but right now, people are overlooking a LOT of hip-hop because rage is the new norm for the hip-hop and black community with everything going on right now. Let’s not get it confused about what sells in hip-hop. Saying “positive music doesn’t sell” is another stereotype put out there to make hip-hop music and the culture sound like a terrible thing. That’s not the truth and NEVER has been. Be wise.
Shout to RUN DMC, Busy Bee, Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Slick Rick, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Common, Heavy D [Rest In Peace] and many other Pioneers, Greats and GIANTS in the hip-hop industry that made impact, money and sold records by being POSITIVE a good 95% of the time.
Positive rap don’t sell……FOH!