Buff1 – Dream Streets (video)…and the Chop Suey shooting

With the latest video off Buff1’s excellent There’s Only One album, Buff took it to the streets, literally, and put his money where his mouth is by putting food where theirs are.  Great stuff from one of my favorite MC’s and one of the nicer dudes I’ve worked with in the industry.  Shout to Buff and the whole AML & A-Side families.

Seeing a video like this reminds me of all this f**kery we’ve been dealing with here in the Seattle hip-hop community in the wake of the tragedy at Chop Suey last week.  If you’re unaware, you can read the basic details here.

I don’t really feel like writing an entire essay on the issue, but one of my biggest problems with the aftermath has been how people within our community have handled it.  I know every hip-hop head is used to defending the culture from the moronic comments and accusations that pour in after any violent incident (in this case, from the Slog comments), so we’re automatically programmed to respond in the usual fashion: it’s not hip-hop, it’s society.

Yes, completely true.  Absolutely.  Problems like this are indeed a reflection of the worst aspects of our society, and the blame can be spread out to every participating member…from gang member up to President.  I agree with this.

My problem is that many of us in the hip-hop community, myself included…at times, don’t react strongly enough against the negative parts of our own culture.  We know damn well that when artists are presenting themselves as ‘uber-gangsters’, it directly affects us, especially the next generation.  There’s a difference between rapping about the violence you see in your hood and glorifying it.  There are far too many artists, in every scene around the country, glorifying ignorance, stupidity, violence, misogyny, homophobia, and countless other negative traits.  Aside from the fact that 80% of the music is straight trash from a quality standpoint, we do ourselves a disservice when we condone this.

As a listener, participant, and DJ in this culture, my tastes have changed over the years, and quite frankly, at 26, I’m too old for this.  I’ve been doing my best to showcase the positive side of hip-hop since I started college radio in 2000 and every year, I’ve taken that more and more seriously.  As we enter 2009, I’ve been a DJ for almost a decade now and we’re in our 4th year of Sound Session on KUBE, a 100K-watt Clear Channel station.  Think about the reach we have each week.  I’ve always strived to provide quality music on my shows, mixtapes, and now blog posts, but that’s just not enough anymore.

I need quality music and quality messages.  I need quality artists and quality people.

I’m going to hold myself to a higher standard in 2009 and beyond, and I hope other members of our community do the same.  Remember what Barack said?  “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Every day that I get older, I think more and more about life as a whole and what I want for this world, specifically the next generation.  I can’t imagine having a kid and trying to explain to him why we allow these morons to pollute our culture.

Outsiders know they’re wack.  Outsiders know they’re stupid.  We know they’re wack.  We know they’re stupid.  Why do we condone it?

Improve yourself this year and demand better from everyone around you.  I’m not religious in the least (I’m spiritual, big difference), but it’s true: “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”  Help people.  Get involved.  Make a difference.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, just make an effort and you’ll be amazed how quickly things will change.

Buff bought some sandwiches.  Maybe you can do the same the next time you see someone homeless asking for some change.  Better yet, go mentor a kid from a troubled neighborhood.  Teach him how to fish.  Feed him for a lifetime.  You’ll see your perspective change.

I promise to step it up this year too, but not in that played out “grind” sense.  Who cares if you “get on your grind” in 2009 and become a better artist/DJ/writer/athlete/etc.?  Be a better person.

“Harder, better, faster, stronger.”

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11 Responses to “Buff1 – Dream Streets (video)…and the Chop Suey shooting”

  1. Benny says:

    Amen, man AMEN. I 100% agree…. Art should imitate life…not the other way around. Write/sing/rap/chant about what you HAVE done/seen and how to you made (or are going to make) a change. Don’t glorify the acts that made you change, glorify the change itself. Most artists, not all, don’t even live “the game” anymore, their music is about what did/saw.
    I will defend hip-hop until I’m blue in the face, but reading all this stuff over a 206Proof…let’s be honest, would this have happened at a folk show? Probably not, would it happen at a HIP-HOP show…probably not. Would it happen at a “GANGSTA RAP” show…more likely than the other two. I, personally, tend to differentiate between the two, Rap vs. Hip-Hop. I have been to more shows than I can count this year and never a problem.
    It is definitely a tragic situation, and my heart goes out to the families and those affected by this situation. I thought about doing like you and blogging about it, but after reading everything over there…I almost feel that words are not going to make a difference. I’m not gonna call anyone out, but you want ignorance go there and read. “Killing is human nature”…”if you’re scared, do like me and buy some guns and a bullet proof vest”…IGNORANCE. Was Sean Taylor shot in the chest?
    Anyway, I apologize for ranting in the comment section, but I finally found someone that feels the same way that I felt about the situation. Big ups…long live hip-hop music…and Inverse on the 17th!!!

  2. Charles says:

    c/s hyphen. Living here in Atlanta I hear my share of the type of hip hop you referred to and I shake my head when I hear it. The problem down here is that many people use the excuse “I’m not really supporting the negative stuff…I just like the beat.” Excuses won’t fly anymore. We need more people in the upper echelon of the game to speak out and have a hip hop actualization to stop all this foolish. I try to do my part when it comes to changing things too, I used to ignore and drive right past homeless people if they asked for some change. Now if I got it, I always try to help them out. I know its small, but I’m working my way up to bigger and better things! peace.

  3. djnphared says:

    I’ve long hated the assertion that hip-hop and rap are these two mutually exclusive entities. A lot of the stuff being made under the guise of “Gangsta Rap” is more like “Glorification Rap”. Gangsta Rap gets a bad rep nowadays due to the followers of it who miss the total message, just take the romanticism of the REAL violence that occurs and portray a lifestyle based upon that. Acts like Ice-T, Geto Boys, NWA, UGK had a concious theme throughout the music. Yeah, they’re rapping it about it, and bragging about it to a degree, but they’re offering a total view, the ups AND the downs. Nowadays people just rap about the ups, and don’t even come close to ACTUALLY living that lifestyle. And 9 times out of 10 the music is just straight-up TRASH. I agree that so-called “gangsta” shows have more probability to have incidents of violence, because the music speaks to people not raised like someone that would go see an act like Eyedea and Abilities would, but I’ve seen plenty of violence at “hip-hop” shows too, i.e. a skateboard being used to beat in the front windows of Chop Suey and fights in and outside the Big Tune last September.

    Atmosphere is in no way anymore hip-hop than E-40 is, and it’s unfortunate that idea has such strong legs amongst so many people.

  4. Mike says:

    This is how I felt after the Virginia Tech shootings. How can anyone see that going on and then listen to some of the shit that hip hop is putting out and condone it, much less like it? I think it was a 50 cent song that put me over the top that day/week that told me I had to draw the line somewhere. Unfortunately hip hop fans are stupid and will defend their music to the death even when facing the facts that sometimes hip hop is absolutely a negative influence on society. The glorification of killing in rap music has an effect on little kids who grow up with no role models except whos on the television or radio….I don’t see how you can deny it.

    Hopefully more people in the industry will start taking a stand and doing something about it.

  5. DrewDown says:

    Good blog, bro.

    It’s up to us to hold our own community responsible when they make this kind of music and continue spreading positive messages.

  6. Benny says:

    Npha,
    As one of the people from the Proof that I actually like listening to, I can see your side of it as well. You know as well as I do, the garbage that goes on over there sometimes (as with any forum) but at least you can make an argument to back your statements. I appreciate that man, I truly do. I guess, for me, hip hop tells a story that story can be uplifting or grimy or both at the same time. I can be braggidocio…”rappin bout blunts and broads Tits and bras, menage-a-tois, sex in expensive cars….” KRS One taks about the “difference between MCing and rap” in his verse on Classic. To use the words of KRS One, “Rappers spit rhymes that are mostly illegal, emcees spit rhymes to uplift they people”. Rap, on the other hand, to me is all about the heater you carry in your waste, slangin coke, killin dem ni**as…that is the difference. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I need some ol’ gangsta sh1t, but those days are becoming less and less.

    I think, for the most, that we agree, but come on…a skateboard bashin in a window and a shooting (murder) are two different forms of violence. I mean, it happens, but random people rarely get hit by a stray skateboard. Fights happen at all sorts of shows, but the level of violence escalates at rap shows because of people who desperately want to, but “don’t even come close to ACTUALLY living that lifestyle”. Man, what happened to the days when fists were really all you needed?

  7. braille says:

    wow, I heard there was a shooting but just read the full details. this is why in 2009 I’m focusing on the young people. there was a time when I was frustrated with the younger generation. i would be at a school and see all the kids with cell phones, psps and so forth. you start to realize that todays kids are growing up in a whole different era then what I grew up in just 15 years ago. it’s easy for us to turn on the radio or turn on the tv and laugh it off – but there is a whole generation of kids being raised on this stuff and it’s all they know.

    I’m investing the majority of my energy this year going to where the kids are at – the schools, correctional facilities, community centers and investing into these kids lives. Bringing them free music that is different then what they hear on the radio and see on TV. Listening to their stories and sharing my own.

    Great blog man, and your right – we can’t justify what’s going on or try to pass blame on others. we all have to be responsible for the impact we are making. just because other people are abusing their power and their influence doesn’t give us an excuse to do the same. everyone who abuses their power and influence will eventually have to own up for it.

  8. Hyphen says:

    ^^Exactly. I think you and S1 have really hit the nail on the head with your upcoming project. Getting it to the kids and showing them that there’s a different option is huge. Even if you really only up one kid’s ears to something new…if you can change that one life, it’s already a huge success. That’s why I’m writing you a check for that $100 to help support the project.

    To everyone else, I highly encourage you to go to Braille’s site (http://www.braillehiphop.com) and read up on what he’s doing for his next project. If you can make a donation, great, every little bit can help. If not, just be ready when the music drops and spread it to friends and fam the best you can.

    As for the other comments, I really appreciate you guys chiming in with your thoughts. This is really important to me in ’09, so I’m glad to see some others are on the same page as I am.

    @Benny: I agree with your sentiments, but I also agree with Npha about the whole “hip-hop vs. rap” thing. I don’t think a distinction needs to be made with that terminology specifically, because I’d call hip-hop the whole culture and rap the music that manifests itself. Whether it’s Soulja Boy or Braille, it’s all hip-hop AND rap to me. Now, I do agree there’s a marked difference with what people are doing out there with their music. It used to be more commercial vs. underground, but now there are actually ‘commercial’ artists expressing themselves genuinely and more maturely than our biggest selling rappers in the past. I think Kanye is a prime example. I couldn’t care less if messageboard gangsters try to bash him or his music all over the place…I LOVE that he’s offering kids a glimpse at how you can be hip-hop and successful, and not have to fall into stereotypes. Lupe is doing a great job of that too. We’re in trouble because they are just a few of the fish in this huge, disgustingly detrimental sea of hip-hop images and representation that our next generations eagerly jump in to. Only when they’re splashing around playing with each other, that water = real bullets.

    @Charles: Good stuff man. That’s what it’s all about…holding yourself and people around you just a little bit more accountable and aware as you get older. Even giving a dude a few bucks here and there can help so keep up the good fight man. We’ll all be making bigger changes soon if we keep it up.

    @Mike: It’s definitely important that everyone in the community demand that the industry be more accountable. They won’t do it on their own because the majority of people in the music industry aren’t really from the culture. They don’t care one bit. They want to make their money, drive home, and leave hip-hop at the workplace. For those who live it, we don’t want to do that, or can’t do that. This is our culture. These are our friends dying. These are our venues that will be closing doors. These are our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters growing up in this environment.

    Every participant in the culture should take more responsibility. DJ’s, MC’s, graff artists, producers, promoters, club owners, club patrons, concert goers, bloggers, program directors, music directors, advertisers, etc. If you live in this culture, value it. If you’re exploiting or otherwise hurting our culture, we need to put an end to it.

  9. lar says:

    truthful stuff hyphen. accountability is whats missing. the only thing that’s trickled-down to our generation from the rethuglicans is their (true) morals and aversion to responsibility.

  10. […] to act and right now, hip-hop just isn’t pulling its weight.  Huge shout to everyone who is doing something positive with their music and careers right now, Braille and S1 […]

  11. […] last time I posted a video from Buff, it sparked a mini-rant, so I’ll try to keep this one shorter.  […]

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