Flashback to the 1960’s in the South Bronx of NYC. Black youth are gathering in the streets, coming together to tell stories of their struggles, dreams of making it big and anything else that comes to their mind. This will form to be the hip-hop culture that we all know and love. As hip-hop expands, rappers become household names and hip-hop magazines arise such as Word Up!, VIBE, Spin, Rap Pages and etc. to showcase artists in their publications specifically for the culture. We counted on these magazines to stay true to the culture; always publishing the hottest “now” artists, best upcoming artists and anything hip-hop related. I recently began to look around at the popular hip-hop magazines of today and I saw that they are straying away from hip-hop culture and indulging in aspects of entertainment that are not. Why is this? Where did it all go wrong? I have taken the time to express my opinion on how this may have happened, why we don’t need these other aspects included and “Why Keeping Culture Is Important.”
They say we are living in the last days-war is going on across the world, police brutality seems to be at an all time high, Mother Nature is at her wit’s end and on top of all of this: culture is being lost and drowned. Hip-hop magazines have now gone from not only being sold on stands but also giving access to publications online. With the start of hip-hop magazines they were the culture’s main source for the hottest upcoming artists, the newest hip-hop clothing brands dropping, the dopest interviews of big name artists and more. As time has gone by we have seen a switch in this to magazines adding on content that have nothing to do with hip-hop culture and to what expense exactly? Do they feel the need to reach other demographics? Do they feel as if they will be lost in the wind if they don’t cover the latest news on the Kardashians? One thing we have to keep in mind is that hip-hop has been one of the most copied aspects of Black culture within itself. In all demographics we see people looking up to rappers, wanting to dress like rappers, women wanting to embody the latest femcee or video vixen-there is no way it could ever be lost, that is, if we keep our focus on hip-hop. Hip-hop is the past, present and future. It will always be relevant, it will always want to be known about and other topics of discussion will not be. Hip-hop is forever and we have watched it thrive through negativity such as “hip-hop is dead.” How is something so appropriated dead? How is it that pop stars feel the need to be “hip-hop” to stay relevant? Exactly. We don’t need them, they need us.
Now that hip-hop magazines are starting to cover things that have nothing to do with hip-hop we come into this aspect that at some point it could be lost within our publications. Of course, they are publishing about hip-hop (this is not to say they are not), but what happens when we see an influx of articles that are not hip-hop? It is important to stay true to the main focus of why these magazines were started-for the culture. Subscribers and viewers want to have that sense of “we have something of our own.” When there is a focus on topics that we would normally find in the latest gossip magazines such as, People or OK!, we are taking away from the culture. We are taking away from what is ours. Those stories are not our culture and that is why gossip magazines are published. You can even find on Twitter that fans are tired of non hip-hop topics being published. They want the real culture back, they want what they came for.
There are so many underground artists with such amazing talent that can be highlighted within hip-hop magazines (print and online) that there is no need to include anything else. Why should they get put to the back burner and made to seem like their voices can’t be heard because magazines choose to focus on topics that do not pertain to the culture? This forces the underground artists to search for other outlets to feature their work when in fact big hip-hop magazines should be providing an outlet for them as well. Unless you have money and have the right connects it just doesn’t happen, which is also not good for the culture. We now have younger generations growing up looking to hip-hop magazines but they do not get the same pure material as past generations. They have to filter through all of the topics that do not pertain to hip-hop just to get to the real. It’s already bad enough we have the reality show, Love & Hip-Hop, around that says it’s for the culture but in actual REALITY it is tainting the culture and feeding into stereotypes. It should have never came to this. It is important to stick to what only pertains to our culture because younger generations will think it is okay to be succumbed to these topics and it is not when publications are supposed to be about the culture.
We need to keep the positive aspects of hip-hop culture in the forefront and cut out the extra that isn’t helping the culture. The dope up-comers, the dope fashion forwarders of hip-hop, the dope concerts and etc. need to be the focus. They were the focus before and we need to get back to this focus. There are so many distractions in the world that want to keep us away from the true culture that belongs to US. Keeping hip-hop magazines true to the culture is important.