Hip-hop artists have a responsibility to youth

Jineea Butler | 8/5/2013, 1:50 p.m.

(NNPA) – Since its inception, hip-hop has been a target for problems in the Black community. Forty years later it’s still a topic of discussion. On July 22, Bill O’Reilly launched a tirade of issues in his Talking Points segment of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News titled President Obama and the Race Problem. O’Reilly attacks African American leadership for having no clue on how to solve the crisis in the Black community and offered his own set of solutions. While O’Reilly and his right wing approach is sometimes uncomfortable to digest, he gave a somewhat valid synopsis on what’s happening in our neck of the woods.

He cited two major problems: the entertainment industry peddling garbage (hip-hop music) to impressionable youth and the alleged disintegration of the African American family. I find it insulting that in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict, O’Reilly has the temerity to challenge us to reform Black America, but won’t challenge Whites to examine White privilege or White supremacy.

Regardless of O’Reilly’s views, we should take it upon ourselves to examine what hip-hop artists are spewing.

For example, after Harry Belafonte said last year that Jay Z and his wife, Beyonce, have turned their back on social responsibility, Jay Z struck back. In his song Nickels and Dimes, the hip-hop mogul said:

I’m just trying to find common ground

‘fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a ní* down

Mr. Day O, major fail

Respect these youngins boy,

it’s my time now

Hublot homie,

two door homie

You don’t know all the sh

I do for the homies

Not only does Jay Z call the iconic civil rights activist a “boy,” he says it’s “my time.”

It’s your time to do what? Remove the hyphen from your name? Send the wrong message to young people about the contributions of Belafonte? The superstar actor paid a high price for his civil rights work long before Jay Z was born. In my book, he has earned the right to chastise the younger generation, which he does in love.

In an interview with Elliot Wilson of Rap Radar, Jay Z says he was offended by Belafonte’s comment because his (Jay Z’s) “presence is charity” and goes on to compare himself to Obama saying if he (President Obama), like himself, speaks on anything, that should be enough.

This is where I jump off the RocNation tour. If Jay Z can’t respect Belafonte and his earnest plea for using his influence to change the state of Black America, what good is he? I agree with Bill Cosby when he says instead of Obama condemning the entertainers who get rich marketing negative images to kids who emulate their lyrics and attitudes, he should invite them into the White House. But that’s a different conversation for a different day.

What do you think happens when Jay Z doesn’t respect a man like Belefonte and doesn’t condemn the problems that he knows exists. Jay Z says he uses his instinct to connect to issues he feels are important to support. So the very issues that you went through in the projects of Marcy are not all important? Belafonte was so far off-base that you denigrate him by calling him a boy? Then you turn around and say he went about it wrong and you are open to a dialogue?