Academic journal article Michigan Family Review

Bring Tha' Noize: Hip-Hop, Black Families, and the Black Church

Academic journal article Michigan Family Review

Bring Tha' Noize: Hip-Hop, Black Families, and the Black Church

Article excerpt

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was the summer of 1986, I had just finished watching a Rob Base and DJ Easy Roc video, and I bet $40 with my father over the impact of hip-hop culture. He said it was a fad that would disappear from the Black music scene like disco. I argued that rap music--and more importantly hip-hop culture--would stick around for years to come.

Sixteen years later, Rob Base and DJ Easy Roc are hip-hop afterthoughts, and I still have not collected on my bet. But hip-hop culture and the generation that grew up listening to its music have not faded away. This group is now a pivotal force within the Black community--Blacks born between 1965 and 1984 make up over 18 million of the 33 million Blacks in the United States.

The author of this excerpt (Hubbard, 2002, online) provides an interesting insight on the generational debate and the competing opinions surrounding the significance of hip-hop culture and its most important artistic manifestation: rap music. To Black baby boomers, rap music may sound like incoherent, nonsensical noise with strong, overbearing beats packaged on television videos with scantily clad, gyrating women and men with gaudy jewelry (otherwise known as the "bling") and sagging pants. However, to Black youth, rap music is the medium where their hopes, aspirations, fears, and anger are expressed. Moreover, rap music represents to Black youth a form of individual self-expression where there are no rules and where their culture is defined and celebrated. In short, rap serves as the "noize" of Black youth and reminds America that they have their own leadership, their own views, and are a socioeconomic and political force.

The goal of this article is to explore the relationship between hip-hop culture, Black families, and the Black church. My analysis will examine three areas: (a) a socio-economic overview of hip-hop/rap in the context of record companies and media conglomerates; (b) a paradigm for hip-hop culture as a socio-political mobilizer for African American youth; and (c) a strategy whereby the Black church may increase Black male participation. In order to do this effectively, I must define and analyze hip-hop, its meaning, and role in relation to African-American families and the Black church.

About Hip-Hop/Rap

Hip-hop or rap, an art form and culture nearly thirty years old originating from the Bronx, New York, has provided a forum for African-American and Latino youth to express their respective cultures and speak on a number of issues. Today, hip-hop is a global phenomenon that appeals to almost all ethnicities and is synthesizing a new culture that goes beyond race, education, and income.

Despite the growing acceptance of hip-hop within White America and the middle class, hip-hop is also under siege. Blake (2003) highlighted some of the comments on rap or hip-hop by Bill O'Reilly, popular talk show host on the Fox News Channel:

When I confronted perhaps the most powerful rap and hip-hop executive in the world, Russell Simmons, about explicit lyrics that may be a corrupting influence on high risk children, he looked at me like I was from Mars. "These things need to be expressed," he said. "The plight of Black kids is now much more vivid to the white world because of rap."

That may well be true. But what about those Black kids trapped in ghettos with little parental supervision and guidance? Are rap themes going to help them get out of their dire circumstances?

The answer is no. If those kids adopt vulgarity in their speech, an anti-white attitude, and an acceptance of dope and violence, the only way they're likely to leave the hood is on a stretcher or in the back of a police cruiser. Hard work and discipline punch the ticket out of poverty. Thinking up rhymes about cocaine is not going to go far on a college admissions application.

The fatal flaw of the rap world is that it doesn't harness the legitimate rage that exists in the bottom end of our economic system in any positive way. …

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