A Real Down to Mars Girl (What I Really Learned from Hip Hop)

Recently the world lost (Ms. Melodie) one of its less obvious treasures. Certainly in her death she has been recognized as Russell Simmons and many others have shared their love for the hip-hop trailblazer. But I still don’t think anyone can say the world respected her enough for what she brought to the genre.  Furthermore despite the fact it’s held a heavyweight title since the 80’s I don’t think hip hop  gets enough credit for what it can teach us about life.

I’m not old enough to remember the death of Biggie or Tupac but attending the  one college in the nation that offers a Hip-Hop diploma has made it impossible to ignore the influence of the genre.

l’ll never know what it’s like to really be from the streets or understand how it felt to witness it’s first heartbeats in “the golden age” but hip hop has been defining my youth since I heard the opening chords of “Roses”. 

During high school I spent most of my time plugged into Hip-Hop Nation or 106 & Park. And I  studied the music and careers of people like Dr. Dre the way most kids studied for the SAT. Hip hop was something I could emulate not just in fashion (although I still do look to Rocsi for inspiration) but in attitude.

Not unexpectedly the past four years of my life were  some of the toughest. Keeping my head up in a world where the media has totally warped what society says is pretty, successful and normal  while adapting to the hand life dealt me was difficult as confidence often eluded me.  But when I put on my headphones and disappeared into a record like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill I found strength. I found empowerment somewhere between the base and the  flow. 

For as much shit as hip hop takes from people that say it’s too explicit, offensive or whatever there are plenty of positive things that can be taken from the most uncensored songs.

Music from mainstream power players like Eminem, Jay-Z, or T.I. didn’t just stand to show me the stereotypical things like violence, drugs and controversy that it is said to glorify . It  showed me how people can achieve their dreams if they hold on to their vision no matter what people had to say about it. It motivated me to not just be in the game but be a game changer and it reminded me that some of the hardest dudes make the most loving fathers.

Being female I can see where some people think hip hop doesn’t always portray the most positive message for women. But that being said some of the strongest women out there have climbed their way to the top of the industry heap, Missy Elliot being the first one that comes to mind. These individuals are true example of what it means to be a women, strong, intelligent and beautiful regardless if they have a man or are flying solo.

So despite its grit hip hop really does have a legitimate right to more respect from the Grammys to the broader realm of society. And personally I have it to thank for where I am today. Without hip-hop I wouldn’t have found my passion for music or the confidence to put away my “Hi Hater” shirt and be my own damn self.

Also anytime I feel likeI want to give up  and let my “Caroline” tendencies take over  I have  songs to remind me not to be a “hard rock when you really are a gem” because “mighty fine only got you somewhere half the time and the other half either got you cussed out or coming up short.”


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