Love’s gonna get you

Last week CNN aired a one hour special called “Hip-Hop: Art or Poison?” I missed it (did it even air in Canada?), but I happened to come across the transcript the other day, and I was curious to have a look. Good lord, Paula Zahn covered a lot of territory in sixty minutes. Misogyny, homophobia, violence, and materialism? All in one hour? Yikes.

I thought it was particularly interesting that she raised the question of the link between the aspirational nature of hip-hop and criminality among youth:

Hip-hop is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry rooted in music, clothing, jewelry, a whole lifestyle. It is a cultural of extravagant and expensive consumption. And a lot of critics wonder whether envy of that lifestyle contributes to crime in America.

Singling hip-hop out for “extravagant and expensive consumption” in the land of Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous is a little absurd. Are they asking if envy of Hollywood is driving kids to crime? Does heiress Paris Hilton need to fall back?

Still, I don’t think we should let hip-hop completely off the hook. I don’t think it’s the world’s biggest stretch to imply that there’s some connection between the culture’s get rich or die trying mentality, and world-weary young guns moving a few packs for sneaker money.

On the program, Young Buck jumped in and denied there was any link at all. “Some kids see this [wealth and success], and they get off into their books a little bit stronger to make their education come out for them, to be able to provide and make things like this,” he argued. Riiight. Cause a high school diploma (or even a college degree!) will no doubt enable you to sport designer gear, jet around on G4s, and guzzle bottles of booze that cost more than most folks’ weekly paychecks. In these days and times, it’s more likely to land your ass at The Gap, clock-watching, and folding t-shirts under the nose of some petty, pastel-clad dictator. Kids aren’t dumb, they know this.

Surprisingly, the resident criminologist on the show hit the nail on the head. “If you don’t have legitimate access to that [wealth and success],” Professor Catherine Montsinger from Johnson C. Smith University noted, “it’s only natural that you’re going to do something that makes that accessible to you.”

So, in other words, if you grew up broke (i.e. your parents couldn’t lend you 50 bucks, let alone land you a prestigious internship), and you couldn’t see any point in your life where you’d be able to afford a hoopty, let alone a Benz–you might be open to taking another route. Throw in some family drama, an illness, crippling debt, the inability to fulfill lifelong dreams, or any other number of pressures, and it’s not inconceivable that you’d get caught up. Watching a bunch of dudes throwing handfuls of cash at hot chicks on TV might just be the final straw, though.

But however irritating the making it rain mentality can be, in the end the issue here is poverty, not pop culture. One of my friends is studying to be a criminal defense lawyer, and she said they tell you in law school that there are three predictors of criminal behavior: poverty, mental illness, and addiction. Plain and simple. Society already knows what causes crime. It’s just a heck of a lot easier to point fingers at a few rags-to-riches rappers boasting they have cash to burn than it is to address an entire system that leaves millions without adequate food, housing, education and health care.

________________________________________________________________________

Tangent: Not that it’s likely that she’ll ever read this, but I want to send a huge shout out to the lovely Jennifer Hudson for her well-deserved Oscar. She got me all teary the other night. What a voice!

  • justight

    first

  • http://www.myspace.com/sinistahmoneybagz Sinistah…. 973′s Own!

    well on one hand u got the youth who look up to these rapper dudes by default of cooperate overexposure, in most cases the artists are nothin more but walking billboards for a higher entity. And as you know those who oppose being exploited either go indie or burried so deep in the roster you’d almost 4get they even signed or better yet, exist.

    Back to the topic at hand, its really interchangeable. think of how many of these dudes have neva lived what they speak about, but rhymewise would have you think they biggest kingpins this side of the globe. kids embraced this ignorance as the new “cool”, alot of my peeps wont see a day outside of an electric fence for the shit these rappers glorify and children lust. its the blind misleading the blind. i wish the balance was where it once was because alot of the shit bein said on a mic i can do witout hearin let alone seeing the future attempt to emulate because they think its “cool”

  • EReal

    FUCK FIRST SAYERS LIKE THIS DOUCHEBAG^

    Anyway,

    Tara-Squad Says:
    “One of my friends is studying to be a criminal defense lawyer, and she said they tell you in law school that there are three predictors of criminal behavior: poverty, mental illness, and addiction. Plain and simple.”

    Damn Tara-Squad, Ive never really looked at it that way. Thats Real Talk right there, str8^. Im sure theres exceptions to the rule and everything, for the sake of argument. That really struck a chord you saying that right there, because it’s true. I actually sat there and thought about why I ever did anything illegal and why the people around me did illegal things and I really couldnt find very many exceptions. Awesome Blog Tara-Squad. Its pretty much matter of fact and I dont have any arguments, so Im gonna move on to the next blog.
    Kudos Tara-Squad.
    Now, Dont be a stranger Girla.

    1 hunned.

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz da’realestwritin’

    FUCK THE NEWS YOU ONLY WATCH DAT’ SHIT TO ESCAPE THE TRUTH!

  • Conor

    For future stories of this nature I hope news stations only use Cam’ron and Dame Dash, because they are better than any comedy I’ve ever seen in my life…answers that make no sense, shameless product plugs, and the attitude that basically says fuck you middle America. Honestly what was better than those two on the o’reily factor

  • http://rashadadesign.com DJ Intergral

    I would just like to say that your comments are right on point. I think you do a great job at writing insightful as well as entertaining commentary. Keep up the good work and maybe some of this will enventually rub off on some of your colleagues on this site.

  • http://thetruthspeaksloudly.blogspot.com Kevin L. Clark

    This was really good, Tara. I didn’t get a chance to check out the program. But it’s interesting to see the powers-that-be try to point fingers in a system that was already established by them.

  • Malik C.

    Millions is an exagerration Tara. According to Cnn, the latest study says that there are about 754,000 people homeless. Unless you were talking about a broader spectrum and not just homeless people. Regardless, there will always be scapegoats when shit happens. It’s a lot easier to burn a “witch” then try to fix the real problem.

  • rkm

    “Cause a high school diploma (or even a college degree!) will no doubt enable you to sport designer gear, jet around on G4s, and guzzle bottles of booze that cost more than most folks’ weekly paychecks. In these days and times, it’s more likely to land your ass at The Gap, clock-watching, and folding t-shirts under the nose of some petty, pastel-clad dictator. Kids aren’t dumb, they know this.”

    Your making way too big a generalization here Tara. A college degree actually does raise your earning potential on average, as does a high school diploma versus no diploma. Most dealers are not rich, just the guys on the top–it’s basically a pyramid scheme, so following that road to success is kind of like bringing $5 to the tables at Vegas and hoping to come away set for life.

    Plus, look at the success of immigrant populations, who actually earn less than most low-income U.S. citizens, and by 2nd or 3rd generation are often approaching the U.S. median income. How do you explain that in the context of your argument that education doesn’t promise enough for kids to stay the course.

  • rkm

    “Cause a high school diploma (or even a college degree!) will no doubt enable you to sport designer gear, jet around on G4s, and guzzle bottles of booze that cost more than most folks’ weekly paychecks. In these days and times, it’s more likely to land your ass at The Gap, clock-watching, and folding t-shirts under the nose of some petty, pastel-clad dictator. Kids aren’t dumb, they know this.”

    Your making way too big a generalization here Tara. A college degree actually does raise your earning potential on average, as does a high school diploma versus no diploma. Most dealers are not rich, just the guys on the top–it’s basically a pyramid scheme, so following that road to success is kind of like bringing $5 to the tables at Vegas and hoping to come away set for life.

    Plus, look at the success of immigrant populations, who actually earn less than most low-income U.S. citizens, and by 2nd or 3rd generation are often approaching the U.S. median income. How do you explain that in the context of your argument that education doesn’t promise enough to hold kids’ attention.

  • Moe Real

    Working at the Gap is so 1996. And mitigating factors of crime were explained to me in Grade 10.

    Lately you’ve been writing about such negative shit! And every post ends with blaming the system or society or some other nameless, faceless institution. I (mostly) agree with you, in spirit, but it’s getting harder when you just evoke cliches about social justice. Figure out something new to say about poverty, homophobia, racism, etc. etc. and…STOP THE WAR ON MAKING IT RAIN!

  • jacquez
  • THAT_BOY_NOAH

    HIP-HOP MUSIC DOES CONTRIBUTE TO CRIME IN AMERICA. MAYBE NOT ALL THE CRIME BUT SOME.

  • Moe Real

    Plus, look at the success of immigrant populations

    ^^ Tony Yayo, for example.

  • EReal

    If you’re listening to Rap while commiting a crime, would that be considered rap contributing??

    lol.

  • derfla the hus’la

    was there no crime before hiphop got big?

  • Meka Soul

    >Cause a high school diploma (or even a college degree!) will no doubt enable you to sport designer gear, jet around on G4s, and guzzle bottles of booze that cost more than most folks’ weekly paychecks. In these days and times, it’s more likely to land your ass at The Gap, clock-watching, and folding t-shirts under the nose of some petty, pastel-clad dictator.>

    co-fucking-sign. instead of the dream position i wanted when i hopped out of college [loan-free, at that!], i ended up selling pots & pans at macy’s for $6.75 an hour.

    no offense, but if my college degree couldn’t afford me a ginsu serrated knife from the floor i was pushing them on, fuck school.

  • http://dahshyt.blogspot.com Belize

    AyO Tara…
    Tell me that Michael Dyson’s remark about homophobia wasn’t the funniest/realest comment ever!

  • Meka Soul

    did anyone catch the one that showed on the ps channel? i fell asleep on it since it came on at 4am.

  • Meka Soul

    *pbs, i should say.

  • E AKA THE REAL NORIEAGA

    Moe Real Says:

    February 28th, 2007 at 2:05 pm
    Plus, look at the success of immigrant populations

    ^^ Tony Yayo, for example.
    ^^^^^^
    LMAO

  • john cochran

    I swear if I was into white girls I’d marry you. I think our whole culture today is made up of black youth with a yearning to be rich be any means. Thats why our morals and integrity our out the window. In essence, most of my people our Godless, cause if you have god in your life you know not to sacrifice your soul for the riches of the world. Our problems are deeper than rap and even poverty for that matter. My grandparents were poor as shit but my Grandpop never sold a vile of crack or held up a 7-11.

  • KRITIQ

    daim tara at first I thought the post was a subliminal aimed at Sunbol for trashin you in your last post.

  • Meka Soul

    >I swear if I was into white girls I’d marry you.>

    get in line.

  • whatev

    Honestly, I think the the people produced this culture originally and now it is a poisonous cycle. What did Dr. Dre listen to before he started rapping? I think this fact goes ignored. Before gangsta rap, seriously there wasn’t anything like it in black music. There was rap, but not like what would come out of Cali and later on New York. These cats were listening to soul music, Michael Jackson and Prince. My point is that before we blame the culture, well not blame but give it a casual relationship to certain mentalities I think it needs to be known that these mentalities produced this culture, not the other way around. So even if every rapper decided to be positive, which would mean no more mainstream rap, that doesn’t cure poverty. That doesn’t fix the mentalities of young men who can’t get a break. That doesn’t change the desire against a dominant society that you feel has neglected you. If anything you see something you can relate to. I’m not going to say that the culture is helping any, that wouldn’t b true. I do think that in this area the effect is probably null.

  • http://straightoutleodis.blogspot.com Analogue

    Co-sign to the Nth degree, that’s bang on. YN needs to move Tara up a space or to on the columnists page.

    So yeah, I agree that rap isn’t the main problem. Still though, Young Buck is full of shit and to be honest so is Snoop… he talks all that about how his football team is giving kids positive values but he just wants to excuse himself to polite society so he can keep shotting mindless, negative records to fourteen-year-olds without their parents throwing a hissy fit.

  • Hannah Smith

    “But however irritating the making it rain mentality can be, in the end the issue here is poverty, not pop culture”

    Er, no – the issue is idiot rappers.

    Bitch, get a job!

  • Hannah Smith

    “Co-sign to the Nth degree, that’s bang on. YN needs to move Tara up a space or to on the columnists page”

    Um, no! The only blogger who gets ‘blogging’ is Bol – the rest are wasting space. Tara Lara is competent with the English language, but that’s about it – a compelling read she’s not.

  • Cuban Link

    u should really consider moving to the states ole chap.

  • http://www.myspace.com/poisonousdarthfc Poisonous Dart

    This chick gets the Gas Face!:

    Hannah Smith Says:
    February 28th, 2007 at 9:15 pm
    “Co-sign to the Nth degree, that’s bang on. YN needs to move Tara up a space or to on the columnists page”

    Um, no! The only blogger who gets ‘blogging’ is Bol – the rest are wasting space. Tara Lara is competent with the English language, but that’s about it – a compelling read she’s not.

    You seriously need to step away from the crack pipe, hon^. Now, to my point:

    The bigger problem to me are shows like The O.C., My Sweet Sixteen, The Hills, Maui Life, etc. that help push the “Get Rich Or Die Trying” mindset amongst all the youth. Unless you’re rich, you’re not important. The whole “get money” mentally has been in hip hop since it’s inception…and ESPECIALLY once the first rap record hit the airwaves and became a huge hit.

    The real problem didn’t come until Viacom and Clearchannel began to co-sign the shiny suit/bling bling rap and made it into the new pop music strting back in 1997/8. Once Master P, Diddy & Cash Money starting cracking TRL regularly it was a wrap for any conscious voice in the mainstream and all of the balance was gone. It forced heads underground like the Morlocks.

    That type of imbalance is unnatural and it’s been going in mainstream rap for the last 10 years…of course there are going to be negative effects due to it. Nice post Tara..there’s too much bullshit going on here (XXLmag.com) nowadays. Keep it up.

    One.

  • EReal

    You seriously need to step away from the crack pipe, hon^.
    ^
    Co-Sign, this fat hater comes in here to talk shit every time Tara-Squad posts. I think she wants to BE Tara or some shit.
    Why dont you get a job, fat bitch, instad of waiting to get hating as usual.

    1 hunned.

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    Hannah Smith Says:

    February 28th, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Um, no! The only blogger who gets ‘blogging’ is Bol – the rest are wasting space. Tara Lara is competent with the English language, but that’s about it – a compelling read she’s not.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Are you tryna say that Bol is a “compelling read” … LMFAO .. fuck outta here with shit!

    Double co-sign Poisonous Dart & EReal

  • notoriousekb

    you need to send that last paragraph to oprah , bill cosby , stanley crouch and every other backwards ass , uncle tom negro pointing the finger at my culture for the problems in this country !!when people attack my music i take a little too personal ( as you can tell im sure ) . im tired of young black males being america’s scapegoats!! i swear you are the only person on the ‘net that makes any sense !stay black tara!

  • http://www.myspace.com/chronikill ROXONE

    “she said they tell you in law school that there are three predictors of criminal behavior: poverty, mental illness, and addiction. Plain and simple.”

    Bleeding heart liberal bullshit.

    Mad people don’t have the patience and determination neccesary to be successful. It may take generations, but hard work wins. Again. People used to want things to be better for their CHILDREN. Not a dope whip and a chain to rock to the club.

    The main reason hip-hops gets so much blame is that these kids don’t know how to codeswitch. You can’t expect to get ahead in the world if you talk to your boss the same way you take to your boys.

  • SukedowN

    So quick to blindly defend hip-hop any time its’ relation with cause and effect is brought up.

    Your schtick is getting worn.

  • alleyeCNtower

    well said, Tara.
    and yes, they did play that embarrassing piece of crap up here in Canada… Paula Zahn actually got murked on her own show, Michael Eric Dyson destroyed her in 30 seconds flat. She had such a narrow perspective, and they all exposed the bigger pictures beyond hip hop’s influence on the youth of today… it’s society’s responsibility obviously, but not in CNN’s eyes…

    ‘Hip hop’ is poison? HA HA HA! So is everything THEY sell US. The hypocrisy is just too hilarious…

    stay sharp, sister
    love, Mindbender

  • Moe Real

    You’re doing one post per week now? Booooring.

  • http://michael.p.maddenuscg.mil lyrical listener

    d block

  • http://michael.p.maddenuscg.mil lyrical listener

    wtf

  • NickeNitro

    “Hip-hop is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry rooted in music, clothing, jewelry, a whole lifestyle. It is a cultural of extravagant and expensive consumption. And a lot of critics wonder whether envy of that lifestyle contributes to crime in America.”

    “Hip-hop culture” my ass. That’s the entertainment and media industry’s culture. If those are the only aspects of “hip-hop” the media companies will show, the entertainment industry is to blame. There is more rap music out there that isn’t about all that stuff than rap music that is, so it’s too obvious you can’t blame the music.

    And it’s very clear that hip-hop has been targeted by the racist, rockist music industry. If they wanted to make movies look bad, they would only allow really derivative violent movies into theaters so that making that type of movie would be the only way to make money in movies. Then the same people controlling the available options would start telling us that movies are too violent. And, because education doesn’t get any funding, people would be too stupid to stop and ask how it got that way and get programmed by faux-news to say things like “movies are dead.”

  • http://www.xxlmag.com chillywilly da3rd

    listen up this is the end of the world if you are 16-25(and black) YOU HAVE NO FURTURE you might as well quit school go hustle or whatever man its getting so tiring we destoryed all that was ever good we are all slezzy degenerates nobody is any more to blame than the next because we created this monster however i will say this its unfair to label music as the mother of all woes in the ghetto as if we are so easly manuipulated metal music advocates sucide devil worship and all of the most reposive content but when they act out its life imitating art we are art imitating life and the truth is values in america are shaky and in the hood nonexistant while tara gets her little vickies in a bunch about the black experince we really couldnt give a shit less go to the fucking hood and ask anybody that faggy hip popppy awearness was dead way before rawkas records we are not a community but enties in our selfs that live to cater and praise all that gleams and beams thinking from the midsection people well look at us now you whites blacks others we all fucked up you people have been dumbed down to the point of no return to a point where we are no longer seprate from animals so enjoy the fire brimstone and young joc songs that await you in your own personal hell fuck heads