So I’m at a hip-hop concert…
The scene is set: music blaring, people shouting and we indulge it all.
We sing, laugh, we etch the night into our memories as “The Best”.
The patriarchal lyrics are sordid but of course we insist it’s culturally reflective of our struggle.
We vibe, we smoke.
We’re 18, young and full of colossal naiveté.
Tonight, one friend invited another.
We stood next to each other and I passed her a smile. She giggled and placed her hand on her chest, belting out: TUUUUUNNNNNEEEEE!!!!!!”
I knitted my brow in quiet shock.
Porcelain-toned, excited, wide-eyed; she loved hip-hop.
“Nigga you don’t knoooowwww!!!”
I had a number of friends who skipped over it.
The question to its current relevance, its cultural impact, and unfair usage [“But why can’t we say it?!”] was never discussed, it was understood.
But she belted it out defiantly, smiling, one hand in the air, no mercy.
My friend tapped me and pointed. We stood staring at the new problem.
Nonchalant, she clapped.
Our eyes stared trying to reprimand her. But she was calm and ready for the next song.
18 and naïve, we never thought to have a collective will to understand our history and defend its evolution. We never asked “Why the women? Why the lyrics? When did degradation become Hiphop’s torch? Where had the artistry gone?”
Black power tees, ankh necklaces and large hair; ethno-centricity was our motto, our trend, but we had no depth.
18, serious and resolved, we sent the brave to her fort:
“Hey, you don’t need to say Nigga…”
“Why not? It’s just a word…”