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Monday, January 8, 2007

Carry On Tradition: Respect the Elders

I just got out of this meeting where we talked a lot about how in different cultures, people have a special honor and reverence for their elders and ancestors We discussed how with age and experience comes a certain wisdom that cannot be achieved otherwise, and that the wisdom is something to be respected and learned from. During this talk, I just started thinking about how we don't do that in Hip-Hop, and it is to our detriment.

I have seen this whole Hip-Hop thing from a different perspective than many just coming up under the older heads in the game at different points in my life, and they always give me more of an appreciation for the advantages that I have now. Being an up-an-coming rapper/producer/engineer/journalist/whatever-else-I-do was waaay different back in the day. As a producer, you couldn't just download FruityLoops or Reason and be a beatmaker the next day, you had to save up and get the equipment, and they didn't even have equipment tailored to what we were trying to do so you had to be extra creative. As a rapper, you couldn't just pull a crazy stunt on a video, throw it up on YouTube, and have an audience of a half a million people wanting to check you out. You had to have the skills to build that word of mouth buzz. That creativity and skill is something that we should at least respect and learn from.

These are people who paved the way for what we are trying to do. This blog wouldn't be here without them. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy wouldn't be where they are now without Jay-Z and Nas. Instead of having a respect for those who birthed and elevated the culture, we call them old-timers and has beens, and push them out the door and forget about them. Do we ever think, "What will happen to us if and when we get to that elder status?".

Hip-Hop is a culture, and as a culture we need to have rituals and procedures in place to make sure that the people who would be considered our elders are taken care of. I believe there is hope for things changing, as Jeezy retracted his statements about Nas and made peace, and Jay-Z was offered a presidential position at Def Jam. If more stuff like this doesn't start happening, we are seriously messing ourselves up, because we are missing out on an opportunity to learn from the experiences of people who have been through the game, and we aren't setting it up for us to be taken care of once we go through the game--which in the end hinders our chances of survival as a culture.

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