August 11, 2009
Where's the Next Lauryn Hill?
(This post originally appeared on 99problems.org)
So yesterday I was listening to J.Period’s amazing "Best of Lauryn Hill" mixtape and I realized how much hip-hop is suffering right now. Come on, when is the last time you were inspired by something you heard on the radio or saw on MTV or BET? Rap music is really in shambles when someone like Drake is considered the next big thing. (And I know Davey D would remind me that there are hundreds of inspiring rappers in the underground, but I think we all can agree that mainstream rap music pretty much sucks right now.)
The absence of strong female MC's is particularly noticeable in today’s beef inspired music. While there a handful of great rappers like Psalm One, Invincible and Jean Grae holding the down the fort, there just aren’t a lot of women having a big influence over the listening public. And I am not even going to mention the laundry list of video vixens that have recently attempted to pick up the mic because it would sort of be like dissing all the real wordsmiths out there.
I think this is a huge problem. More after the jump.
A lot of times when I am filling out grant proposals, foundations ask about the role that women and girls play in our programs. The question isn’t posed because foundations don’t care about boys, but because program officers realize that if an organization is doing a good job engaging women it’s most likely going to be doing a good job of working with men. It’s sort of like a least common denominator test.
If this test were applied to hip-hop music right now, rap would definitely be losing. The music industry needs to take a cue from the philanthropy world and figure out how to empower women. Otherwise we are all going to lose a whole generation to the brainless blabber that dominates the airwaves.
Until that day, I am going to keep praying that Lauryn Hill gets her self right and starts rapping again.