Rapper T.I. Launches a Day Care!
Believe me, I was just as surprised as you to find out that Atlanta rap mogul, T.I., was opening his first of a string of daycare facilities. It's been a hell of a year for the rapper who has been an undeniable force on both the charts and in the box office. Grand Hu$tle Child Care promises to stand apart from other child care providers by being a 24 hour program catering to low income families. T.I. has made it very clear that he will not be a passive investor in the facility, but will participate in the day to day care of the children (feeding, changing diapers and all). In fact, the entire Grand Hu$tle roster including Young Dro, Big Kuntry, and Super producer Khao will be on staff teaching and caring for the children. This move by the self proclaimed King of the South has prompted other rappers to follow suit. Young Jeezy has also decided to give back to the community by teaching an after school tutoring program at Martin Luther King Jr. High School…
Ok… by now you should have guessed this is a bunch of BS, but if you caught BET's three part special, "Hip Hop vs. America", you might be led to believe this story is true. Apparently it is now the responsibility of rappers, not parents, to raise our children. Now I have to speak on the subject not as a fan of hip hop or the publisher of this magazine but as a black man and more importantly as a father of two. I heard all the same tired complaints. Rap glorifies violence and drug use. Rap degrades women. Rap is sending our community on a downward spiral. These are the same complaints we've been hearing in the on-going debate that was initiated by Michael Richards (Seinfeld's Kramer) calling black patrons "Niggers". The same debate that was later rekindled when Don Imus referred to a predominantly black female basketball team as "Nappy head Hoes". Its amazing how a white man makes racist remarks and we spend the next six months pointing fingers at ourselve. Suddenly Hip Hop is to blame for all the problems in the black community and the primary objective of the NAACP been banning the word Nigga from rap music while a travesty plays out in Jena, Louisiana.
Rap music isn't the source of problems in the black community. The biggest blow dealt to the black community was desegregation. When we were segregated you couldn't forget who you were. You couldn't denounce your blackness because you were reminded of it everyday. It didn't matter how light your skin was or how much money you had because at the end of the day you were still a "nigger". Desegregation allowed that "house nigga" mentality to bubble to the surface. As soon as they said you could shop where masta shopped and eat where masta ate you skipped your happy ass across the street and abandoned your people. It seems the same people who are on the forefront criticizing hip-hop are the same elitist (uppity ass) negros who dropped the ball in the first place. They are the talented tenth, the successful few with the resources to make a difference in their community. Unfortunately instead of helping uplift they distance themselves from it and criticize. Oprah complains about the youth and the lack of education in her own backyard while opening a school half way around the world. At the first signs of financial prosperity they flee the communities and later wonder why our youth idolize pimps, playas and drug dealers when in their absence they are the last resemblances of success in these forgotten neighborhoods.
Hip hop is a reflection of the culture. To change the music you must change the artist and to change the artist you must change the environment. I started this article off with the premise of one of hip hop's most notable figures running a daycare. Not to knock T.I. or any other rapper but I don't want them raising my kids. That's my job. TI, Nelly, David Banner, The Game, Snoop Dogg... they are all characters. Rap is entertainment. Al Pacino may be great father but that doesn't mean I'm going to let Tony Montana (Scarface) raise my children. T.I. said it best, it starts in the home.
I'm not going to sit here and defend every record that comes out because there are a lot that I don't agree with. I feel that the current state of hip hop is horribly lopsided and many artists are one dimensional. The artists who have a balance in their music are still dictated by the labels though. That's why singles like "24's", "Be Easy" and "Rubberband Man" will get released while gems like "Just doing my Job" or "Be Better than Me" sit on the album. Rappers aren't in the clear they must be held accountable for their actions, but by the same token you cannot hold them accountable for everyone else's. We must hold everybody accountable for their own actions and quit blaming hip hop. A hooded assailant has stole up in the night and delivered a stab wound to the heart of our community. We are loosing our best and our brightest at an astounding rate. We are hemorrhaging cash as we frivolously spend money outside of our community. The hood is bleeding and hip hop is its last cry for help. What will you do?