Be Real: Hip-Hop’s Refusal To Self-Examine

Be Real: Hip-Hop’s Refusal To Self-Examine

By: Dionte Pounds

The die-hard credo in hip-hip is to be real. If you are a trap rapper, you better have shot at least 7 people, slapped your mother for making your bacon too crispy, and used your girlfriend’s anus to traffic cocaine countless times. Otherwise you are not a real trap rapper. If you are a college graduate, you cannot rap about selling drugs, because no one with a bachelor’s degree can possibly peddle coke in his spare time. You better stick to rapping about parties, sports, if anything doing drugs. But selling them? That’s off limits for you. And if you are white, you shouldn’t even try to rap at all, because you can’t be real and white. Action Bronson and Eminem are the exceptions to this rule, but let’s not forget what Mark Walhberg did to rap in the 1990’s. That’s much more likely to happen to you.

The true reality, however, is that rappers are nothing but caricatures of themselves, taking their actual personalities amplifying them a thousand times over. There is no inherent evil in creating an exaggerated persona for yourself, and it may even be the thing that launches your career. I’m sure William Leonard Roberts II enjoys being Rick Ross more than he being… William Leonard Roberts II. The problem arises when people, both the artists and fans, take those public personas to heart and believe that is who you must be in order to be a believable, credible rapper. All the tough talk, supposed gunplay, and fornication is cool as long as your remember that it is an image that you have created. Unfortunately, issues arise when the parties involved forget that it is nothing more than a front.

Berkeley rapper Lil B has made a career out of calling himself a “pretty bitch,” a lesbian and most strangely of all, Dr. Phil.  Nothing about him comes off as threatening, and with the prolific amount of music he has released, it’s no wonder he has generated such a large cult following, better known as the Bitch Mob. Yet there are plenty of people who want to discredit him because of his image. His image isn’t real.  It doesn’t matter that he is obviously releasing music for the love of making music, and for the Bitch Mob to enjoy. His image doesn’t fit the outdated mold of what it means to be a rapper. He doesn’t carry himself the stereotypical way a rapper should, so he receives backlash from the hip-hop community. Truly, I believe this reflects poorly on the culture itself more than it does Lil B.  Love him or hate him, but how does anything he do affect the majority of us in any way? But because some of us may not agree with his image, we feel the need to call him out.  We feel the need to sucker punch him during a mock interview. Yet our favorite rapper can live in a plush Malibu mansion and rap about being in the trap without us so much as batting an eye.

            I love hip-hop. It is one of the biggest influences I have in life, yet I have never understood or agreed with this double standard. If you’re favorite rapper is a 34 year old still rapping about having crack no matter where he’s at and constantly smoking “gas,” (a la 2 Chainz) he is feeding you false information and you need to accept it. Period. Because in reality he has real priorities to face, such as fatherhood, taxes, and taking care of those around him.  Accept that Ace Hood never has woken up in a new Bugatti, Drake has never caught a body, and Lil Wayne is not “getting ass or skating” at any given moment (well, maybe he is). Hip-hop is built on feelings of bravado, which acts as a natural foundation for exaggeration. Exaggeration is nothing more than grandiose lies with the slightest morsel of truth.  And in the rare case that your favorite rapper is in fact still in the streets selling drugs surrounding himself with goons, he should really reconsider his life choices because he’s either a terrible rapper who has to sell drugs to make an actual living or is willingly wasting a golden opportunity.

            It’s time to face the facts. Rap music is no longer about being real, and it’s questionable if it ever truly was. And that is arguably for the best. Real life is boring. Real life is painful. Real life is scary. And this is not to discredit the handful of rappers who have made careers off of the emotion that comes from facing real life head on, like Scarface. The Diary is the album that in my mind best exemplifies what it should mean to be a real rapper and it was a terrifying album when you think of the psychological implications. Yet for the most part, rappers lead fictional lives through their lyrics, and need to understand that and accept that realness is nothing but a primitive excuse to discredit another artist.

Dionte Pounds
Creator | Doesn’t F*cking Suck
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