Blunt smoke filled the apartment I found myself in while faint sounds of NBA 2K13 littered the background. The dominant theme of the afternoon was Chance The Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape – in particular the second half of “Pusha Man” otherwise known as “Paranoia.”
Politically correct or not, music has always sounded better in these settings mostly because these same ingredients were used to create the songs we come to know, love and associate ourselves with. “Paranoia” was gospel music; the soundtrack of a war zone which has become The Windy City over the years. The place where the Jay-Z lyric “our life expectancy so low we making our wills at 18” actually applies.
Perhaps the value of inner-city life isn’t enough to warrant round the clock news coverage. And instead of media outlets becoming so intrenched on associating the Boston Marathon bombers with Hip-Hop, try focusing on the music genuinely shedding light on a small scale civil war with no end in sight. Hip-Hop has its fair share of less-than-desirable qualities, but it’s also the most socially conscious genre currently in production.
“They murking kids, they murder kids here
Why you think they don’t talk about it? They deserted us here
Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here
Probably scared of all the refugees, look like we had a fucking hurricane here…”
Post those lyrics on CNN. Post those lyrics on FOX. Post those lyrics on MSNBC. They’re vulgar for a reason. Vulgar isn’t dainty. Vulgar isn’t sweet. Vulgar is fucked up. Learning an infant was murdered who was barely old enough roll over on her stomach is vulgar. Reading the story of Hadiya Pendleton is vulgar. The music is vulgar because the reality is, for better and worse. Better because it shines light on a situation normally viewed as a “Black problem,” when it should position itself as America’s stemming from disparities in housing allocations and stereotypes. Worse because, admittedly, a segment of impressionable minds internalize violence as a lone means of survival.
“The same crime element White people are scared of…Black people are scared of. The same crime element White people fear…we fear. So we defend ourselves from the same crime element that they scared of. While they waiting for legislation to pass and everything, we next door to the killer. We up in the projects, where it’s 80 n*ggas in a building.
All them killers they letting out, they right there in that building! But it’s better, just cause we Black we get along with the killers or something? We get along with the rapists just ’cause we Black and we from the same hood? What is that? We need protection, too.” – Tupac, 1994
Through a room filled with marijuana smoke and laughter, this was a realization lodging itself in my brain. Chance didn’t reinvent the wheel with “Paranoia.” There wasn’t a need. Cube nailed it perfectly on Boyz In The Hood anyway three decades ago when venting about media coverage and the extermination of young minorities from the projects.
“Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood. They had all this foreign shit. They didn’t have shit on my brother, man.”
Thanks for remaining consistent, America. I guess.