YFM DJ Zama Dube’s opinion on hip hop. Is it in crisis?

3 Comments Opinion

YFM DJ Zama Dube’s opinion on hip hop. Is it in crisis? YFM DJ Zama Dube’s opinion on hip hop. Is it in crisis? Zama1The culture of hip hop for me marks itself as something majestically beyond a genre. When I think hip hop, I see a sense of collective being which gave so much voice and agency to the young and black. From the unapologetic rhymes, to the fierce beat in the rhythm which dominates hip hop, I dare you to not respond to this genres’ commanding spirit. I still get goose bumps when I think of the impact which was made by the legends of hip hop “Run DMC”. I get even more emotional however, when I think about our own era of hip hop, which at the time was led by your Proverbs, Skwatta Kamp, Amu…the list is endless. This was a period when the young black voice was forcing the state and any other oppressive system to LISTEN! These young black people were contesting the misconception of us being a “lost generation”. Black youth were saying, “Yo! Listen up, I may be model-c and have a twang but I have a conscious mind, which is questioning the existential crisis of being, young, black and ‘free’”.

Fast-forward to 2012 and I find it hard to share the same pride I felt back then. I find it hard to accept that the fight for black youth representation was for I what I see dominating the public and commercial space. When rhymes have been reduced to name-dropping, swag-proclaiming lines of nothingness, I find it hard to relate. Surely this cannot be the pervasive discourse among our struggle as young black people. Don’t even get me started on some of the problematic images being spread as the face of 21st century hip hop. If I used a couple of local videos and the tracks getting airplay, as case studies, it would be safe to assume that success for the average young black man is nothing less than a “yellow-bone” honey on his arm, free VIP club access and bottle-popping swag. I am not only critical of these images as a scholar of gender politics but I am even more so concerned with what we collectively understand to being young, black and “free”. For self-hate to permeate the existence of my people so intensely, that we place beauty as anything outside of the natural black aesthetic just saddens me. So if she aint a mix-race or yellow-bone with a silky 16-inch weave, nah, she aint hip hop, nor is she hip and happening. If he doesn’t roll with ballers and cannot come up with a line that rhymes with “paper-swelling pockets”, why should we even listen? I see a crisis here. A crisis of representation and identity among us as young black people. How can we even make a compelling case to have the “hip hop” category reinstated in our national music awards if we ourselves cannot come to an agreement of what hip hop means to us in 2012?

I’m not calling for the radical politicization of our craft because art is never just for “art’s sake”. The act of producing art is in itself political, however eighteen years of democracy ain’t enough for us to be as careless with our representation. We are still in the process of constructing our self-hood, outside the confinements of socio-political constraints therefore, this begs a greater level of consciousness.

  • Iam glad some one can still recognise the glam and glits path taken by people who influenc e us(musicians onthe rise) how ever our musical choices cannot be ecided by our public mentors. I stand out today claiming to write my music baed on my reality stories,dreams and love. I pledge never to mislead my people . thanx DJ Zama.

  • Jay Stash

    See I do agree wit ya and its my exact worry.Hip Hop has always been about Freedom of expression hence growing up I liked how artists like Ice-T,Big Daddy Kane,Qeen Latifah,Dr Dre either expressed themselves trying to reach youth or rebelling and telling stories of how it is coming up in the hood.

    See with music one has the ability to paint a vivid picture and let people inside ur world.The question is…Are u going to present a world u wish u had or paint a pic of ur reality?And a lot of kids growing to Hip Hop in SA are losing the plot and I feel like we not painting a real picture but a false one.I was taught to never stop dreaming,I was taught to fully apply myself and I try to do that through my music.I try to touch lives through my music coz I know and understand that as much as we try paint a perfect picture….We all going thru tough times,we all have problems that we have to face and deal with.My understood of music is how it can help one.Music is power,a lot of young artists I feel don’t understand the power they have in their hands…..Use dat power wisely.Signing out.Jay Stash @Jay_Stash

  • D.E.S

    Hip Hop is a genre that has got so many categories that once you commit yourself to Hip Hop, you gotta choose your lane. The swagg has always been part of hip hop because aint nothing on the news but the blues as Kanye said it. Let’s not crucify people who are just enjoying the wizardry of playing with words.

    But what is saddening is that when one releases a song that fits what yall refer as the ‘missing piece’ there is no backing from our media except when the song is controversial as we’ve witnessed with Slikour’s ‘Blacks are fools’. We have Driemanskap, to me who deserve the rookie of the year award but where is the commercial backing, they should be on magazine covers and they should be getting airplay like no one’s biz.

    Lets not forget that an artist should also be able to feed his/her family from their craft and honestly currently conscious music is not getting people money as much as ‘commercial music’ does, even though personally, I never categorize Hip Hop as I believe that there is a message in every song. When was the last time you heard Common joints on radio but hey Rick Ross’s ‘stay scheming’ is a regular on radio playlists.

    One last more practical example of why we hearing more commercial music on our stations. Take a look at Rick Ross’s Teflon Don album, he had a joint in there called ‘Tears of joy’ ft Cee-lo Green, a very soulful and message fuelled song. But what were people bumping everywhere we went?… You got it right ‘BMF’, ‘Aston Martin Music’ and ‘MC Hammer’.

    The problem lies with us the consumers and what Zama has done is a step towards the right thing to do. If we dont demand what we think we deserve then we will always be complaining. Let’s request the kind of music we want to hear on our radio stations. Support Good Music