Where do I even begin? There’s so much to say, yet so little time to explain it all. You’ve been by my side since day one, primary school to be exact. Through all the pain and happiness, you’ve always been down to ride. Introduced as a genre, an art form elevated to a creative outlet for those who didn’t have the resources. Returning the power back to the people, becoming a voice for the voiceless. Representing a group that was once overlooked. Just one of the things I applaud you for. This is an appreciation letter, dedicated to my favourite genre.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom.
You’re a genre that expanded my knowledge and vocabulary. Educating me about the history of many foreign lands, questioning the system and the very society we reside in. Encouraging me to do my own research, ask my own questions. You led me to discover the history of my own people, delving deeper into Punjabi culture. Learning about the violence, sacrifices and the nature of human beings. Humble The Poet and Noyz sparked my interest in history through their lyrics.
The storytellers of the game captured my attention. Hailing from all parts of the world, they shared one thing in common, authenticity. Each shared their own stories, struggles and observations about society. American hip-hop is what I predominantly grew up on, exposed to the music I wanted to know more. Becoming curious about the motivation behind the art, I began watching documentaries on artists and the genre. This increased my admiration for the genre and ultimately, the culture. A few honorary mentions to those who kept it real. Blackstar, Common, Capital Steez, Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar and Joey Badass.
Thank you for creating a culture much bigger than yourself.
Incorporating fashion, lifestyle, business and charitable causes that give back to the community. The culture isn’t restricted to music, it’s constantly expanding. Making clear statements, for example through style. Remember back in the ‘90s when TLC wore condoms as accessories. The girl group wanted to vocalise the importance of safe sex. This was during the AIDS epidemic and an era where female artists were being sexualised. They inevitably became pioneers of their generation.
Thank you for showing me an image of self-worth and love.
Growing up I wanted to blend in. Moving to an unfamiliar community where I was the only Indian in my school was difficult. Hip-hop slowly gave me confidence, one song at a time. Queen Latifah taught me (and probably other women) about U.N.I.T.Y. A message for the ladies to have self-worth, self-love and rely on yourself. I could relate to the verses she shared, it felt like a reality check. The Notorious B.I.G. taught me the Sky’s The Limit, the hook inspired me to follow my dreams. Dead Prez showed me other forms of love through Mind Sex. To gain a better understanding through conversation with both yourself and a potential partner.
Thank you for rocking with me through it all. My first love, teacher of life and shoulder to lean on. Dear hip-hop you’ve always been down to ride by my side. But let’s shine the light on you, the reader, what have you learned from hip-hop?