Hip-Hop is the music of lower class black people, but what happens when most black people are no longer lower class, at least in terms of their socioeconomic status?
It used to be the case that the vast majority of black people worked shitty jobs and lived in awful neighborhoods and dreamt of the day when they might escape such a meager existence, but, increasingly, that isn’t really the case anymore, now is it? These days, more black people than many of us would like to think are solidly middle class, if not upper middle class and beyond.
But if you notice, most hip-hop these days is still a product of the black lower class. I suppose in that sense it’s no suprise that hip-hop has experienced such a creative downturn in the past 10 years or so. So much of today’s hip-hop is created by the kind of people who were left behind in America’s ghettos, like so many Katrina refugees, when the most capable among us seized upon the opportunities created by the civil rights movement and what have you.
Hence our current state of minstrel rap uber alles.
I bring all this up because I recently came across an article that deals with a lot of these issues, and it got me to thinking. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, a fellow named Thomas Chatterton Williams (I know) suggests that hip-hop culture, and not white racism, is the most formidable obstacle to success and equality in the black middle class.
Checkit: Black Culture Beyond Hip-Hop
The argument goes that the children of the black middle class seek to emulate the values of the black lower class put forth in today’s hip-hop culture, and that’s why so many of them are failing in education, and, subsequently, in life. Which is especially unfortunate, since so many of these effin’ idiots have the means to do so much, and yet instead they purposely choose to do so very little.
But, on the other hand, you can see why so many of today’s youth are so tempted to emulate their favorite rap videos. If there’s one thing my tenure here at XXL has proven, other than the general lack of reading comprehension skills in the hip-hop community, it’s that no one likes a black guy with a “white” values system. I’ll admit: I’ve often considered honing my own blaccent so that I might make it with the kind of (increasingly phat-assed) white chicks who live to score with thugged out black dudes.
In the WaPo op-ed Thomas Chatterton Williams cites the infamous Harvard University study which revealed that high-achieving black kids tend to be socially ostracized in school, where as their high-achieving white counterparts “are at the top of the popularity pyramid.” I remember reading about this a few years ago and wondering how true that was, really. Perhaps fortunately, I was never really in a position to find out one way or the other.
What do you ‘bags think? Is Harvard University making this shit up, or do reasonably well-off black kids purposely underachieve so as to get some pussy? Both?