Kings of Rap hosted by DMC of Run-DMC
In 1992 the thought of gangsta rap was created, and the music industry jumped on it like a crackhead on a rock. Within 2 years of its start gangsta rap had become the rap industry instead of just a part of the many genres within it. Along with this infection of rap came an acceptance of rap that had been denied since its inception. With that acceptance came large contracts, music videos, Grammy Awards, and inclusion by the media.
In effect the rap industry was commoditized, selling a corporate image of what was and was not Black culture. This image was plastered onto movies, television, music videos, and entertainment news. I will note that the number of African Americans dropping out of high school, and becoming single parents, skyrocketed at the same time that gangsta rappers (now just called rappers) were being lauded for arrests based on violence, drugs, and misogynistic acts.
But not everyone has agreed with the corporate view of rap, or African Americans.
It's taken some time, but now the potential return to the roots of rap music is in the works. DMC (Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC) is to be the host of The Kings Of Rap. This is a new reality television program. Unlike most reality shows featuring a rapper, this program is not to create more fortune for the rapper, or laud their questionable skills, or even reinforce their bloated self-image. Nor is it an attempt to find a way to scour the nation for moldable individuals that can easily be disgraced and discarded.
DMC states the idea as this
"There are so many talented kids out there who don't get heard or don't get signed because they're not controversial enough, or they're too positive. That amazes me. The spirit of hip-hop was always about changing the world or yourself, not with a gun or with denigrating or offensive words, but by being effective with your mind. This is a time when everyone is talking about change, and we as a country have the opportunity to make a difference."
That's powerful, because it's honest. This is one of the few rappers I've ever heard address the sell-out mentality that has become rap. What else can anyone call gangsta rap, when the industry refuses to allow non-controversial (ie. entertainers that are not ex-convicts, and are not being arrested for violence, drugs and so on) positive (ie. individuals that are educated, finished high school, and/or religious maybe even politically aware) influences in the music?
Do I like reality television programs? No. I find them to be insipid at the very best. But the prospect of a program that will help return the rap music genre to the diversity and richness that is the Black community intrigues me.
Do I find rap music worth listening to? Not since maybe 1994, likely earlier. Because not everyone enjoyed KRS-1, Public Enemy, Heavy D, LL Cool J, Will Smith, Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, The Beastie Boys, De La Soul, Erik B & Rahkim, Ice-T, Sir Mix A Lot, and the multitude of other rappers but they did have a choice. And there were more than enough styles to match the people out there.
The Kings of Rap may be more important for what it re-introduces than what it's ratings might be. Likely there will be little media coverage, and corporate promotion will be minor compared to that of Sean Combs, 50 cent, Snoop Dogg and other malcontents. Yet if it achieves what it proposes, reawakening the spirit that created rap and hip hop, then none of that matters.
I may not be a big fan, I may hate reality television, but I think I will check out Kings Of Rap on occasion just because I believe in its ultimate goal. How about you?