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BLOG: The Concept of Success in Hip Hop

Hip Hop embodies the “rags to riches” story. The narrative is typical: I grew up under very difficult circumstances, I stood out, I was special and now I “made it.” I now have enough money that I can take care of myself and my family, forever.

Most people in real life however, never “make it.” Life, for most people, is a constant struggle and is more about managing problems then one day reaching some obscure mountain top of happiness and problem-free (read: debt free) existence. I believe this is where Hip Hop has come up short. Rap music has been the soundtrack to my life in many respects and has provided me with inspiration through each stage of my life, but had I relied only on the messages contained in my favorite rap songs, I would be lost in the misconception that I can one day “make it” and would think all else is failure. The truth is life is about the details; waking up everyday, making it to work or school on time and doing everything with heart, soul and care. Rap music, and the “hustle” that every rapper claims to be their forte is about “getting in the door” or “closing the deal.” Such hustle is not enough in the real world. Care, diligence, paying attention to detail and doing everything right all the time is what it takes to live a productive life.

This same ethos is what drives hip hop’s friendships. Note, every rapper claims they would “die” or “kill” for their homey…but when it comes to the small stuff that actually counts on a day to day occurrence, they come up short. Rappers who have professed undying loyalty to one another in song after song, soon stop talking over contractual or business disputes. Think about how many of your friends have said “Dog, you know I’d do anything for you…” but can’t pick you up and give you a ride when you need them or come up short on the most mundane of requests. This is the same that the “huslter” mentality in Hip Hop has done to our youth’s concept of success: “Man, I stay grinding!” is the battle cry I hear all the time…my follow up question is: Well, how many hours have you spent in preparing for your test?

We can’t all be Lebron James or Jay-Z but many of us live each day like we are one “hustle” away from being them. It’s a fallacy that causes many 14, 15 and 16 year old young brothers and sisters that I mentor look me in the eyes and say “I don’t care, I’ma be ballin’ out of control…” in response to me telling them they are not going to graduate high school.

The reality is: You are not a “Boss” who will one day be driven in a Maybach basking in the respect you get from everyone, everywhere you go. Unless you work hard, seek guidance and make every day a fruitful progression, you will be another statistic making less than 25 grand a year with kids you cannot provide for and a future without hope.-TPAR

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