There was a lecture here last night that I was too lazy to go to, by a guy named Bakari Kitwana about hip-hop and white kids. The Chronicle has an article on it today.
It was Bakari Kitwana’s first day in Montana, a predominantly white state far different from his hometown of New York.
He stood on stage behind a podium and said, “There’s been a rise in white alienation from mainstream America.”
He was talking to what he calls “The Hip-Hop Generation,” more than 200 Montana State University students who filled the Strand Union Building.
In his view, a powerful voting bloc is quickly forming across the country in the inner-city as well as in the suburbs; a group of young adults with different backgrounds who feel they are being left behind. It’s a group of people attracted to hip-hop music.
At this point, I’m not impressed with the guy. Disaffected youths gravitating towards pop culture?
He said many of the nation’s leaders preach morality but aren’t moral themselves. He said the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow. He said while the country spends money to go to war, public schools continue to flounder.
“The American dream today is not what it was for our parents.” Kitwana said.
Many in the working class can’t buy homes, can’t afford to go to college and don’t have health benefits, he said.
And young people entering the working world are becoming bitter; young people of all races.
“There is a diminished sense of white privilege in America,” Kitwana said.
Not much I have a problem with there.
Couple that with the fact that the younger generation is the first post-segregation population, Kitwana said white people’s attraction to hip-hop music was not unexpected.
Rock ‘n’ roll is no longer the music of rebels, and Kitwana said hip-hop is now the alternative, a common outlet for young people disgruntled by business as usual.
Yes, because we all know that mainstream hip-hop has such biting social commentary on subjects like violence and trying to get laid. The only example I can think of where hip-hop attempted any kind of social commentary is that Eminem song from a while back, which was extraordinarily embarrassing to watch.
Toward the end of his lecture, one woman asked hip-hop’s take on United States’ imperialism. The music genre was being treated like a political party.
Another student compared the hip-hop movement to the peace movement in the ’60s and ’70s
“I feel hip-hop has broken down race barriers,” Tyler Stahnke, 21, said. “The kids are sharing the same views now.”
I’ll give him the barriers thing, but for fuck’s sake, the peace movement? I guess I missed the condemnations of violence and materialism.
Said Kitwana: “Young people need to understand the power of hip-hop. A power corporate America does not control.”
Ok, then. Such non-corporate labels as Atlantic, Interscope, and Warner Bros. at the top of the charts, plus MTV and ClearChannel controlling the air waves. Yeah, corporate America doesn’t control hip-hop.
UPDATE: A clarification of Kitwani’s views, from another article about the talk. I don’t have the exact quote, but he did say the stuff on MTV is “not the real thing.” I still think it’s pure fantasy that underground hip-hop is attracting disaffected white kids in any significant way.