Rolling Stone Magazine: You are well-known for proclaiming that “rap music is black America’s CNN.” Do you still feel that way?
Chuck D: “When I said it was black America's CNN, that was 1988…”
A critical chapter in the book Inner Civilization is entitled “Best Interests”. It is presented as a guiding principle that would help us better navigate our way in America. It states that we can determine our overall best interests by… “looking for the benefit in any plan or activity we undertake and weigh it against forseeable detriment. Benefit can be defined as our own physical, spiritual, and mental well being, both individually and collectively.”( Inner Civilization. p.133)
Let’s apply this to Hip Hop. Of course everything has its good and bad elements. Nothing is entirely perfect. There are also those who exploit and abuse something that initially begins well. (Look at the history of religion for example.) But the question is, with 30 years worth of hindsight and a well documented record of its effects at our disposal - has Hip Hop been good for black people overall? Can we determine how it has helped our schools or education, our relationships or our understanding of history?
Has it given us a better insight to our surroundings? How many people has it enriched? How many has it impoverished. Is it just about having "fun"? Was it designed to be good and then went bad? Did it have the necessary elements designed to be helpful to us? Is it just music?
Without question Hip hop has been successful and no one is questioning whether or not it is part of black culture as is gospel, blues or the oral tradition. The question here is different. The question is whether Hip Hop good for black people. Is it in our best interests to support it wholeheartedly?
"Often Hip Hop seems like a beautiful crib but inside it’s just nasty. No woman would want to live there." ~ Chuck D