I used to rhyme like Common Sense… (be the change)

Written by Wil

Rick Ross is sitting in a club throwing thousands of dollars around like its rice at a wedding. Yea, great, we get it. You’re rich and have nothing better to do with your money.

How about investing it into the communities that supported you when you were a minimum wage-earning correctional officer?

Okay, I know that’s asking too much. I know it’s also asking too much to want the Rick Rosses of the world to rap like Lupe and actually have a message in their music. People wanna dance on Friday nights. I get it. As Jay-Z once said “I used to rhyme like Common Sense, but I did 5 mill and ain’t been rhyming since Common since”. I’m at a bar right now in Hawaii (note: I was at a bar in Hawaii when I started writing this three weeks ago) and the last thing I wanna hear is somebody talking about the plight of society. I wanna drink my vodka tonic and hear that i’gnant shit.

However – that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in the communities in other ways and help affect change.

I won’t even blame the artists. See, most of them come from the same place many of us come from – nothing. They finally get a little bit of money and don’t understand the responsibility that comes with it. I’ve never seen Gwyneth Paltrow throw a stack of hundred dollar bills on a naked man before, but I do see her as the face of Save the Children and her numerous other causes, and not just because she donates money, but because she gets involved.

One of our problems as a society is we do whatever is easiest because we don’t have a sense of accountability. We don’t take care of ourselves or our communities, but then we blame everyone around us for our shortcomings. We live in a generation of instant gratification. We believe we deserve the world and everything should be handed to us. We no longer need to do research at the library. The answer to all of our questions is on our iPhone. No need to wait for an album’s release date, we can download it off Hulkshare.

You know how clichés become clichés? By being true a lot of the time.

So where do we start? Well, how about being the change that we’d like to see? Let’s start with our home. Let’s not twitpic ourselves in our dirty bathrooms in our thongs. What other radical changes can we make? How about not trying to imitate the rap videos that we watch and spend 85% of our weekly paycheck on bottles of cheap vodka in an effort to impress girls? And girls – how about not being impressed by a dude spending 85% of his weekly paycheck on overpriced bottles of cheap vodka?? Ever heard of a 401k? Owning property and stocks? If you’re gonna be one of those girls who is impressed by money, be impressed by real money, at least. If you’re gonna chase cash, chase real cash (not that I’m condoning chasing it at all…I’m just sayin…).

Maybe we can try aspiring to own homes instead of rims. We can take our kids to the park on Sunday morning instead of being hung over from drinking cheap vodka at Marquee the night before. Maybe not get every girl pregnant that says we don’t have to use a condom? There are plenty of things we can do as a society to improve our quality of life other than complaining about government conspiracies.

What other radical changes can we make? Well, I grew up in Williamsburg/Bushwick, Brooklyn, and some of the guys in my neighborhood acted like we lived in a Mobb Deep video. They walked around with guns describing the streets like some warzone. I had my share of fights, but I never felt like I lived in Iraq. That violence? It was mostly self-inflicted. It didn’t affect the majority of people who kept their shit clean, it was really for the people who wanted it to be that way. If you don’t carry guns, pull guns, start beef because somebody looked at your girl or stepped on your Uptowns, if you weren’t selling drugs or trying to grab territory – for the most part – you were left alone. I mean, out of the 30 people in my homeroom while I was in high school, only a handful of us were constantly in fights, in jail or running around like idiots. Was there violence? Danger? Sure. But even though it might seem like a lot, it really affects a tiny percentage of people.

We see rappers, even those who are only mildly successful, living in great houses and driving expensive cars. And that allure is what draws us to them. That’s our fault, not theirs. They can only feed us what we’ll eat.

See, the easy thing to do is to pass the blame. Blame Government for not initiating change. Blame the rappers for not being more involved in their communities. But how about looking at ourselves first? I mean, we’re the ones who buy the records and attend the shows. We’re the ones who spend the money, so we’re the ones who control what we support. Without fans, there’s no industry. They don’t force us to buy shitty music. We support it. And rappers? We could force them to devote more of their attention to important issues if we diverted our money to the ones who did and stopped rewarding ignorance.

Rappers will give us what we ask for. But that doesn’t mean a handful of people literally “asking” for artists to help initiate a change. Asking involves action. We, the fans, need to get involved and become the change. If we don’t agree with the death penalty, we need to take action ourselves. Artists, celebrities who have a voice, they’ll react to our movement if they see it can benefit them. Look at Occupy Wall Street. Artists and celebrities are now involved because it’s good press – regardless of if they actually agree with the crusade. So it’s our responsibility to create the opportunity and then the ones who possess the strong voices will join. Don’t blame them for not giving something we’re not really “asking” for. Tweeting an artist about change but then supporting his ignorance isn’t “asking”.

Just a few quick thoughts. Feel free to comment.

Shouts to Big Ghostfase (@bigghostfase). I focus more on substance, while he focuses on entertainment. Both are important to our lives in different ways. We might have our disagreements, but I respect his craft. And if our little twitter back-and-forth helped get a few more people to read this and maybe help make a change, then it was all worth it. Do yourself a favor and visit his blog: http://bigghostnahmean.blogspot.com/

 

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Wil

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  • Whether its ignorance or entertainment, they’re both entertaining. (No cosign, just that sadly that’s what the reality is.) Most listeners don’t know how to appreciate the thought and work that’s put into Common, Roots or anybody in that lane’s records. Just like movies and videos, most people just want to see shootouts and explosions. (for the most part) I used to spin Common Sense records all day but it never got me any further than being a bedroom dj. Not saying there’s no avenue for it but the avenue that was found on every “urban” corner has now found its home in suburbia.
    When a rapper “makes it”, he or she (in my opinion) doesn’t have the instinct to just run back to where they came from and give back. They just want to celebrate. (I know I would.) And “celebrating” every night is pretty much a business investment. People attract to that and that’s what makes them appealing because “everybody wants to be a star”. I don’t know if Gwyneth Paltrow’s old neighborhood in L.A. would want to rob her or make her feel like she owes them anything just because she came from there. I think that is the case with most rappers, though. It’s not like there’s floating around each time they come back to the hood.
    …….. I was just blurting out ideas and had more thoughts but unfortunately I’m late to go pick up this deposit for a high school halloween dance that I’m doing this week. Damn kids…… All they want to listen to is Doo Doo Brown, Nicki Minaj and dance all night. Go figure.