But I was wrong.
Rap music has forced me to do something that in my life I have rarely done. And that is to actually listen to the lyrics of songs. When I was growing up and then into adulthood I never really paid much attention to the lyrics of songs. I listened to the music and my only thought was; is it danceable? If so then that was enough for me.
The only part of the lyrics that I usually knew was the hook. You know, the part of the song that catches your attention. Like Karyn White's song Superwoman; the only thing I really remember is the hook, "I'm not your super woman". The rest of the lyrics are a blur.
But in the early 90's that all changed. At a certain point I found myself buying and dancing to songs that if they had been written and performed by the Ku Klux Klan they would have caused an uproar in Black America. But those songs, with the racist and misogynist lyrics, performed by Black artists seemed to skate by without much notice.
I remember when C. Delores Tucker was campaigning against rap music lyrics in the early 90's. Her protests got a lot of media coverage. I however didn't really pay attention to what she was saying until one day when I really heard a rap song. I don't remember what song it was but I do remember having a sudden realization that rap had changed.
Rap music had transformed from pro-Black groups like Public Enemy (before Flava lost his mind) and X-Clan to NWA and Biggie Smalls. Instead of hearing about the plight of African Americans and what we needed to do to make changes rap became about wallowing in the mire.
It, rap music, became about the names Black people can be called. It became about celebrating the things that plagued Black America; drugs, prostitution, unbridled consumerism, the N word, the B word, the H word and anything else that many African Americans suffered from.
So that's when I began to pay attention to lyrics. It was really a self-defense mechanism. I didn't want to feel like a fool jamming to a song that was calling me a whore or a bitch. So no longer was it okay for me to ignore the lyrics and dance to the beat. I had to grow up musically and pay attention.
Now as I dig deep into the oldies bin over at YouTube I am hearing the lyrics of my favorite songs for the first time. I must say that I am mostly pleasantly surprised. That's because I am finding out that most of the songs I love from "Back in the day" were about love or being hurt or looking for love or just having fun.
I am really proud to hear the lyrics of these songs and to know that the music of my youth was mostly uplifting. I feel so sorry for kids who are growing up on rap music which is about hating woman and Black people.
What are they going to think years from now when they start to really listen to the music of their youth? Will they feel betrayed? Will they feel sad to know that their innocence was corrupted by rap music and the big corporations that produce it?
Yep I definitely owe rap a big thank you.
Do you think kids growing up now will feel cheated in 10 or 15 years by the corporate rap music they're growing up listening to?