Dear Hip Hop,
It has been exactly one week since the verdict in the Sean Bell trial was announced and I have yet to hear from you. I waited patiently all this time, hoping and believing that one of you would do something to let the powers that be know we won’t tolerate this injustice anymore. But a whole week has gone by and I have heard nothing. Where are you? Where the hell are our so called “leaders”? Yeah, leaders = you. Even if you don’t want to embrace it, by default hip hop is our leader. You all are role models. Whether you like it or not, it comes with the territory, so just take responsibility for once. Take ownership, especially when you have the money, influence and power to make changes. Why haven’t you?
I am talking specifically to the “Kings of NY” – Jay Z , the self proclaimed “presidente,” 50 Cent, Vitamin Water tycoon, Diddy, Russell Simmons, where the hell are you now? You are supposed to be New York’s finest, the trendsetters and the tastemakers. You can use your influence to get kids to wear button down shirts and say Jewish phrases but not for something worthwhile, like protesting an injustice happening in your own backyard. I am not talking to Mos Def or Talib, or Joell Ortiz, or Papoose- these “underground”/ “conscious” emcees do their part. It is expected of them, and they speak to issues like these daily. However, their audience is also a very conscious audience, who doesn’t need much reminding. Besides, they don’t have the reach or the power that the mainstream rappers I am addressing here do. Where are the press conferences now?
Maybe you have too much money and are too detached from where you come from to care anymore. Maybe you are too scared to lose your money, because that’s all you have to define yourself. In that case, you are no better than any one of us, working 9-5 trying to get by. Or maybe you are just too busy vacationing off on some exotic island in your linen pants and open toe sandals to care about what is going on in your hometown. I just don’t get it, you kings of N.Y. can band together and dance around on the same stage at MSG when it’s time to promote your albums and record a new 50 Cent remix (I was there, I saw you), but you can’t band together and make some noise when it is time to stand up for justice? What kind of men are you? Instead you are just going to turn a deaf ear and carry on business as usual next week when Jay Z and Mary J bring their tour home to MSG? Why don’t you take a stand and show everyone that we are not tolerating injustices by shutting down your show? Oh no, you can’t do that huh, too much money is at stake. Maybe you don’t think our community is worth it – you know, the people that got you to that stage in the first place.
I am beyond disgusted with you right now N.Y. hip hop. More so, I am tired of defending you to everyone else when they attack you. Why do you have to wait for someone to call you out before you stand up and do something? Despite the attacks by Oprah, Imus and political naysayers, I stood by you. We grew up together and I always had your back. I was sure when the time came, you would have my back too. I guess I was wrong. Here we are, in a crisis in your hometown and you left me hanging. Where are you now? Off making some idiotic reality show for MTV? I guess if MTV doesn’t sponsor it, you won’t go out of your way. You sure had no problem flying to Africa when it got you good press, but you can’t do something in N.Y.? Instead you spend your free time attacking and mocking each other and uploading it to youtube and you wonder why no one takes you seriously. I don’t think I take you seriously either anymore.
I grew up looking up to you hip hop, believing you were the voice box of my generation, but now I see nothing could be further from the truth. Then again, what do I know? I am just a naïve entertainment journalist/ hip hop enthusiast that supported you all since day one. I just hope and pray four years from now I don’t have to dig up this letter and post it again, after another one of our own is unjustly murdered.
One Disillusioned Journalist