Last Tuesday at 7 p.m., “Hip Hop vs. America” was presented in the College of Business’ Mafrige auditorium. The event was a student-led demonstration of the multiple facets of hip hop culture and a panel of student hip hop fans.
The presentation was a collaboration between Alpha Kappa Psi, represented by Tiffaney Carr, NAACP, represented by Rachel Hall, and Towns and Ten, represented by Andrian Mutton. Originally, each organization was going to present separately, but the organizers decided to collaborate.
“We all had the idea of doing it. We found out we were doing the same program on the same night,” Carr said. “If we each have so many people, let’s just do it together.”
The program began with a slide show full of trivia with questions ranging in difficulty. The content covered many different aspects of the history and influences involved with the development of hip hop.
A short dance set to 50 Cent’s music video for “I Get Money” followed the trivia and entertained the audience.
There was also a viewing of a couple YouTube clips related to some of the more serious aspects of hip hop and its effects.
The bulk of “Hip Hop vs. America” was a question and answer session with a student panel. The panel, all fans of different hip hop artists, answered questions about their love of the music, the positive and negative aspects of the culture, issues involving drugs, and other related topics.
“Hip hop has more so affected young men in society. I think that they glorify the selling of drugs, people are thinking it’s cool and it’s the way it has to be,” panel member Priscilla Smith said.
In general, the panel concluded that hip hop is not the cause of major social problems. Anything a teenager decides to partake in has an effect on their actions, whether or not any of it is derogatory, sinful or harmful in any way.
Religious beliefs, in particular, were a strong point for argumentation, even leading to several Biblical citations.
“What you listen to has an effect on your decisions and who you are,” panel member Ayo Akindona said.
Overall, the panel and audience focused on the modern day image of “cool” perpetuated by mainstream hip hop artists. The racy and adult content of not only music, but music videos and product sales has far reaching effects on audiences.
“I think it becomes a problem when things that don’t need to be glorified are glorified,” panel member Chris Smith said.
“Hip Hop vs. America” was not just a debate of an art form, but a way to look at and discuss all the aspects of hip hop, both good and bad. The modern issues surrounding the controversial and sometimes derogatory or dangerous consequences need to be debated and resolved. One way to start is to reach out and provide forums and opportunities for fans to be exposed to all sides of the story.
“We want to have people understand what they’re listening to and why,” Carr said. “Hip hop is not bad- the way it is now is bad, but what it’s supposed to be isn’t bad.”