Thursday, December 30, 2004

Who Owns Hip-Hop?

Farai forwarded me the following article:

"I went to an event in Philly on Friday, November 19 at the Asian Arts Initiative, an Asian American "community arts" space, entitled "Changing the Face of the Game: Asian Americans in Hip-Hop." I cannot pretend I didn’t already know what I was getting myself into. The title of the event itself expresses a level of hostility to Black people – Since Black people are the current face of the game, and for whatever reason, that needs to be changed. But anyhow, I went, ready to see what was gonna go down..."

In it, the author brings up the issue of cultural appropriation. I don't know... on some level, I agree that hip-hop is a black art form that has been appropriated by others, but at the same time, I do believe that Asian Americans and other races do have their place in hip-hop history (for example, DJ Q-Bert and all the Asian American skratch DJs in the Bay Area).

In either case, it's too late to really do anything about it. The doors have been thrown wide open and hip-hop has moved beyond the black community. Hip-hop -- while it does have primarily black roots -- is now being listened to and created by other races. It's something that speaks to most youth today. I used to work with youth in Oakland and I saw how important it was to everyone, no matter what race they were.

However, like anything else that comes from an outside culture, I do believe that people need to acknowledge and understand the roots of hip-hop and give credit where it is due. People need to listen and rap responsibly.

-Jean Chen


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