Preface: While working on this series, Jay-Z appeared on Oprah and they had a short discussion about this topic. This brings about a great time to introduce this topic since it is in the always in a topic of interest for many. Incase you missed it, here is the interview. If not, scroll ahead or click here.
For a long time, I've been able to step outside myself and see things for what they really are. It's sort of like in cartoons where someone has a near-death experience and then they see themselves laying on the ground while talking to a ghost or the grim reaper. Being able to put aside my own judgments and opinions is a skill that I have honed over the years. Knowing when and where to use it has always been a challenge due to people not really knowing what to expect as your opinion. Often times this type of thinking doesn't go along with popular opinion and getting others to see that is though but thankfully I have also been blessed with the great ability to use analogies very accurately to express my views.
Language is a huge part of Hip Hop, a little more so than it is in normal life. How can it be more? Because unlike normal language, the language of Hip Hop is in a constant state of evolution. Slang changes so often that a meaning today may not be the same meaning tomorrow (Down Low?ahem). The language of Hip Hop has also been picked up and adopted by other cultures but it is often not used with the same respect as it was intended.
Before I get into the details, let me give you a little background on what this is about… In early 2008, I decided to learn a new language. Always itching for a challenge, I chose Russian. Mainly because it was the only language of which many people around me spoke as their first language and partly because it was something different. In case you are wondering Japanese was my other choice because of my love of anime and manga. To do this I decided to engulf myself in its culture as well, something they try to do in school when teaching language classes but I think they do a poor job of it. Or maybe I wasn't paying attention, I'm not sure on that one.
While trying to learn the language I wanted to know how people learn a new language and in doing so I found something interesting. There was an article on use of profanity. I don't know if it's typical for people to want to learn profanity in another language but they sure do joke about it often. Having no interest in learning profanity, I read the article to see how other cultures view its use. All my life I've used it but I try now minimize its use. The article mentioned that profanity was most often used by the poorer people of society and that the upper class felt it was beneath them to speak such words. I certainly can relate to that though my tastes haven't grown with my bank account.
I decided to look into how other cultures view profanity and offensive words and saw the same result; used by the lower class and shunned by the upper. This got me thinking about our society. There are those in the upper class that make their money of being foul mouthed; Howard Stern, most rappers and many comedians of both genders. Now I'm wondering what happened to us?
Why is America and Hip Hop the exception? Figuring it out for America is too big a question for me to tackle but I can handle Hip Hop. This one is simple; because it's popular to do. Chances are that your parents use it, and so do your friends. You hear it sung in songs and delivered in poetry. Laughed at on TV and ridiculed in politics. Some use it for shock value, some use it for expression and still others can't tolerate the sound of it.
For blacks there has always been one word that went from a racial slur utter by others to a term of endearment spoken proudly by kin. And all with the change of 2 letters. It's used is so often that even as a racial slur it doesn't carry the same impact as it once did. So much so that it is now accepted use among some races that used to use it in malice.
But this isn't about that word. Countless others have debated it many times over and will for generations to come. This is about the words that are used everyday which are secretly damaging but people don't realize it. Their use is typically due to a lack of understanding the repercussions of their meanings much like the N word.
Since there are many words to explore this will be many articles explaining each word in detail. In this series I will shine a light on these words and explore deeply their meaning and the problems with their use. Do you use these word? Come back soon and find out if you are furthering social damage with your words.