I want to talk about Role Models and Rap Music. This will probably piss a lot of people off, but it’s 2018, so that’s expected.
The definition of a Role Model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” This tells you that whoever you’re looking at, should obviously be someone of a good nature, of good character, with an expected level of morality about them.
But unfortunately, in today’s society, the concept of Role Model has become so distorted and stained and muddled with garbage, that many people can’t tell the difference between good and bad. I’m going to single out Rap and Hip Hop “Artists” as an example of what I’m talking about.
Rap has always been a popular musical genre, and it’s always been a favorite of mine as well. Rap was a big part of my life growing up, not in the sense that I ever wanted to be a Rapper, because I didn’t, but because it’s what I listened to most of the time.
I’ve always been aware of the ever present stigma that encompasses rap music; drugs, guns, sex, gang affiliation, violence of all types, and the list goes on.
But just because I listened to rap, doesn’t mean that stigma applied to my personal lifestyle or life choices.
I spent the majority of my high school years growing up in an apartment community that had a reputation of being “gangster” or “gang related.” And like any other community in the world, it had all types of people, good and bad.
I remember many people asking me if I was afraid to live there because of the type of people known to come around. But I was never afraid. To me, it was just my neighborhood, and I was just one of the people that represented it.
As a resident of that community, I’ve witnessed first hand all types of things encompassed in the stigma of rap music, but I never told myself that I wanted to “be like the rappers we listened to.” But lots of people around me did. Lots of people around me wanted to be just like the “gangster rapper” persona on the CD’s we listened to.
And that’s exactly what’s happening in today’s society now when it comes to Role Models in rap music. So many people want to be just like the “gangster” that’s personified in rap music, and they can’t tell the difference between good and bad.
I like rap music. I listen to “gangster rap” as well. But I understand that while the lyrics may be about some criminal activity, I don’t ever intend to become that criminal because I don’t listen to music as a guide for my lifestyle.
In other words, I don’t try to personify the gangster mentality that’s portrayed in the lyrics. I simply listen to it because it resonates with me on some certain level of my life. Therein lies the key.
“It resonates with me on some certain level of my life.” But it does not define me.
But unfortunately, so many people nowadays just can’t differentiate between listening to someone, and personifying someone.
I respect the hustle and grind it takes to be successful in the rap industry. It’s a cold, harsh industry to be in, and the last thing it is is “easy.”
I respect a Rapper that’s built a name for themselves through hard work and dedication to their craft. I could personify that quality.
I respect a Rapper that dedicates themselves to the pursuit of perfection in the rap game. I could personify that quality because being your best is admirable.
I respect a Rapper that has the guts to stand up in front of a crowd and perform their music, even if it sucks. And I think that people should indeed personify that quality because having the courage to do “your thing” matters in this world.
Those are qualities that should be sought after in a Role Model. Those are qualities that people should strive to duplicate in their own personal lives because having them can make a world of difference. Everyone wants to be successful in all that they do, and putting your best foot forward is always the best choice.
But you know what’s not cool? Bullshit.
Do you know who I don’t respect? Bullshitters.
I don’t respect a Rapper whose message is being gang related, but then gives a speech about “unity in the community.”
I don’t respect a Rapper whose message is about slanging cocaine on the streets, or getting high on pills and selling those pills in our communities, but then tells kids that “they shouldn’t do drugs.”
I don’t respect a Rapper whose message is about killing other people who they feel “tried them” or “crossed them” on the street in front of their clique, but then turns around and says they “wish the violence in their communites would stop.”
I also don’t respect Rappers whose message is about women being nothing more than bitches and hoes, but then wants to talk about “respecting women in our communities.”
And I don’t respect female Rappers who talk about sucking dick for jewelry, cash and cars, but say they want to be Role Models for the young girls in our communities.
Do you see what I’m getting at?
These Rappers are the same ones that are uplifted, glorified, praised, worshipped, and adored by millions for their “hot new track” or their “latest diss track” or their “new single.”
These Rappers are viewed as Role Models by millions, and it’s absolutely disgusting.
This is not about understanding the context of rap lyrics that are the story of any specific Rapper. It’s not about someone telling their story that involves guns, drugs, violence, gangs or anything like that. If that’s their story, then that’s their story, and there’s no changing their past. But their story, and their past, and all the negativity from it, should not be the pedestal upon which other people seek to stand.
And that’s what so many people just don’t understand.
Remember the definition of a Role Model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” And if that negativity is the type of thing you want to imitate, then you have some serious problems.
Some Rappers may or may not have been involved in some criminal activity in their past, and they may or may not choose to tell their story about that. And “you gotta do what you gotta do to survive.” I get that.
But Rappers need to stop glorifying the bullshit, period.
When it comes to Role Models, and personifying the qualities of other people, you have to understand what qualities SHOULD and should NOT be personified. It really is that simple.
Do you remember that famous Rapper turned Role Model that stood on stage and denounced gang violence, gang activity, drug dealing, and murder?
Ha! I don’t either.