More than once, I've heard hip-hop dismissed by the elitists as something that may be associated with the kinds of people that are not desired in upscale business establishments, or the kind of music that one would not want played out loud in their workplace. There were times, that I too, have dismissed it as something as unappealing. As a teenager (after I had moved from St. Pete's), growing up in a predominantly white working-class boonies, I didn't know any better but to dismiss it as not real music. As an adult, a more mature adult in the more recent times, I found it averse only in specific situations where I thought more mellow, gentle music was fitting. I don't usually like hip-hop for situations that are supposed to be sensual or sexy. I also don't think it appropriate as background music over a meal or coffee/tea and some quiet conversation. But it certainly gets me through an hour long work-out on the stair-master, stationary bike or treadmill. It can also be good music for a walk or driving. Today, after I finished my work-out and was walking the half a mile back home, I continued listening to Pandora on my android. If one listens the actual lyrics of some of hip music, there is plenty of universal truth to be heard. While I'm not particularly good at remembering the lyrics, artists, song names/albums without much conscientious effort, I do note the main themes and how generalize-able they are to the human experience and/or the society in which we live. Some of what I found as most touching includes a rap in which the artists recounts the sacrifices he made as a single dad in an attempt to support his daughter, the trauma of losing a loved one, remembering a loved one that has passed away, cheating on your first love, inheritance disputes, and the pressures of success and upward mobility. And yes, there is homophobia and sexism. However offensive that may be, I venture to think that hip-hop music is not promoting homophobia or sexism (just like rock music does not promote suicide and/or drug use) but rather subscribing to the already homophobic and sexist world in which we live. The language used to express this is usually crass and much more forward than the more conventionally acceptable subtlety or the 'turning one's head towards the other way' strategy among those concerned with tact. That is why I think hip-hop may be dismissed as music not worth listening to by some. Though I think hip-hop is grossly inappropriate for situations that may require setting a quiet, calm and subtle atmosphere, I do think hip-hop is appropriate for some situations, like an aerobic workout. It's gotten me through hours of jogging and the stair-master. Moreover, the poetical lyrics tell a story worth listening to as a way of learning about lives with specifics of which may be different from one's own but with emotions that one can empathize with.
I'm not proposing that hip-hop is the best form of music. In fact, I think that would be a silly proposition to make. And like I implied above, I think that it is grossly inappropriate for many occasions. I just don't like it being dismissed as bad. I'm someone that likes all genres of music, except country, but even country is a genre that I am warming up to-thanks to some of my friends (!). I'm someone that is usually obsessed with one genre until I can't listen to it anymore, and must find another one to replace it. Hip-hop though remains on my list of genres that I will continue to listen to when the situation seems appropriate, like during my runs, bike-rides or gym-time/work-outs.