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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.

Categories: Music
  1. January 21, 2005 at 10:34 am

    For people that aren’t immersed in hip-hop music, it should be added that hip-hop and rap are different.

    50 Cent isn’t hip-hop. Eminem isn’t hip-hop. Dr. Dre is not hip-hop. Fat Joe isn’t hip hop. I’ll go so far as to say that Jay-Z isn’t even hip hop. Popular shit that you hear on the radio isn’t hip-hop. MTV is definately not hip-hop.

    If you want to hear actual hip-hop, pick up a De La Soul cd, Tribe Called Quest, Common, Alkaholiks or The Roots. They make good starters for people who want to hear what real hip-hop sounds like. You’ll here very little talk about “slappin’ hos” and that “rat a tat tat” kind of shit (but if they do bring that stuff up, it’s probably a crack aimed at it, not an endorsement of it).

    Corporate America doesn’t control hip-hop, it controls MTV rap music. So when Kitwana says so, he’s telling the truth.

    If all the so called “hip hop” that you’ve ever heard was on the radio or on MTV, you’re being fed Corporate bullshit rappers who are only out for money and you’re being given the total wrong impression about real hip-hop. MTV/radio rappers aren’t out to build the hip-hop community.

    I don’t know if you listen to a lot of hip-hop but your painting with very broad strokes here and I just wanted to let you know that there actually is good hip-hop out there.

  2. January 21, 2005 at 1:28 pm

    Yeah, I know rap and hip-hop are different, I wasn’t being very careful.

    However, is he really talking about underground hip-hop? Sadly, I didn’t go to the talk, so I can’t say for sure, but I don’t get the sense that he meant white kids are turning to underground hip-hop. I don’t really listen to hip-hop or rap, but the stuff I hear around me seems to be the same MTV drivel. I don’t get the sense that kids are moving away from that at all, especially not in the numbers that Kitwani implies. I see few people in general moving beyond MTV/radio music, regardless of the genre.

  3. January 24, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    Hip Hop is a culture, a musical style, and a style of rhythms. Rap refers specifically to a vocal style. That said, Eminem is hip-hop musically and culturally.

  4. Jordan
    March 9, 2005 at 7:13 am

    sure you can say that none of those people are real hip-hop, but corporate america does control the part of hip-hop that makes a difference. How much influence has de la soul, or tribe called quest made in the last ten years. he is talking about the dr dres and the fifty cents, but all of those people are just paying for their air play.

  5. Stank E
    December 15, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    Not that you will probably read this cause this article was quite a while back, but you dont even listen to hip hop or rap so you shouldnt be commenting on anything. To clear things up, the lecture (that your lazy ass didnt go to) was about the fact that in hip hop, especially underground, race color and origin are not an issue. It is about the music, the flow, the culture and the lifestyle, and that brings people together. Like any momevent brings people together by blurring or eliminating barriers. So go to the lecture if you want to comment dont just talk shit especially with my name.

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