How damaging (or not) has hip hop music been to youth culture?

Toynbee Hall
London E1
Thursday 26th July 2007

East London was the place to be on Thursday 26th July 2007, as Talk of the Town presented a live (and very stimulating) debate on Hip Hop music. The question at hand was: ‘Is hip-hop music/ MTV Base harmless entertainment or does a damaging link exist between this music genre and youth culture and the crime epidemic of 2007?’

The panel of three debated this, then host Alex O’Loughlin handed the discussion over to the audience, as views got heated and tempers began to fray.

The audience consisted of predominantly black youth, whilst the strong panel of three presented both sides of the argument. The panelists included: Kwaku, the founder of ‘Black Music Congress’ and editor of British Black Music and Twilight Bey, a social Intervention Specialist from south central, Los Angeles and the main man behind ending the gang warfare between to of the USA’S most notorious gangs, the “Crips” and “the bloods”. Also on the panel was Egidio Newton, founder of Children’s interactive music company, Young Music Explores based in London.

The young people were able to have their say, giving an insight to the world they live in and how the music of today comes across with ‘Grime’ being a part of it, not only hip hop. According to one hip-hop enthusiast, “Grime has a big part to play in crime of today, not just the hip hop music. Grime is all about having a reputation and “reppin” your endz.” This statement was popularly supported by the majority, with another male embellishing on the subject by saying “It’s true. Coz when you represent your endz, you have to hold your own offstage as well, and that just encourages you to be like ‘yeah, am running things, am big’ ”.

Kwaku, however concluded his talk by speaking of black youth being disillusioned by what they see on music videos with artists covered in ‘bling’ and platinum teeth and stated “Be grounded and the music will not affect you”. This was received with a round of applause, and I believe caused many to think seriously and pass it on to others who lack knowledge.

Members of the audience spoke with a strong passion on the topic seeing one life lost as one to many and another stating, “It goes saying that, without a vision my people will perish.” Many also believed that the ability to culture arise kids of today have been taken away from parents such as not being able to beat them when necessary.

Throughout the night, Twilight kept us all in rapt awe of his knowledge of the music industry. He was incredibly well informed, educating the audience with nuggets such as those which informed attendees that hip hop was originally called Rap and was changed to hip hop as it was more marketable. He also played very skilfully with words, using them as acronyms, instead of their original meanings. For example: RAP became Reflects Actual Practices and NEWS was North East West and South. He also gave background information on high-profile rappers as well as black history. I believe this caused people to become very aware of the effects of rap music on society as well as consider the benefits of living outside the prejudiced expectations placed on black youth.

By Guest reviewer – Marian Benka-Davies

Thank you for reading our review. We hope you enjoyed it and that if you did, will post a comment and/or share it with others who have the same interest in this topic and may also appreciate the chance to read it.

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