When I was nine years old I began developing a love for hip hop music. The conveyance of thoughts in such a rapid manner onto a monotonous instrumental found a place in my heart almost instantly. I had listened to hip hop before this age but obviously this was more as an observer than anything. However, at nine I began fancying myself as a potential rap artist and my mind was slowly adjusting to this urban philosophy. Eminem, Redman and Ludacris appealed the most to my young mind.
Their bizarre lyrics and intense yet intricate styles struck a chord with me and it was love from that moment on.
Fast-forward to adulthood with two mixtapes down and a degree under construction I started asking myself ‘why’ a lot. I wondered why I did many things and inevitably landed on why do I rap/ love hip hop so much? I speculated and had self-debates about potential reasons until I landed on fatherlessness. Did I find the reason finally?
In order to substantiate my new assertion I did a random survey of the crop of rappers on the scene and tried to find out if I was on to something. I noted Jay-Z, J-Cole, Drake, Lil Wayne, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G and myself right before I saw that it might be easier to highlight those with fathers in their lives quicker than this potentially tedious task. Additionally, many local Zambian artists came to mind when I surveyed this free data and this assertion grew stronger and seemed even more credible. I would like to highlight that what I mean by fatherlessness is absence of a father in one’s life. We all have fathers despite their varying approaches to fatherhood some choose to do it from a distance (WIFI dads) whilst others are much closer. Anyway, I had obtained my examples and then my next step was to find the correlation between the two variables.
In order to establish the relationship between so many rappers with fatherlessness I looked at the culture in hip hop lyrics. Most of the phraseology in hip hop promotes individualism. Young people who have identity issues usually seclude themselves from others and I noticed this truth in myself. The music under question provides the young person under its spell with an almost Odysseus like narrative. With famous rappers being as wealthy as they are now a young person definitely sees the potential of being that guy one day. Fatherless men have become father figures to fatherless men. Riches and fame represent more than just ignorance as is usually portrayed by many pundits. To me these phenomenon are over emphasized attempts by these young men to show their ability to provide. The fame is an obvious need to be recognized as being an important person worth noticing despite the thoughts of that man who left before he could see this greatness. But such views would be an equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Hip hop provides a solace for its disciples. Hip hop necessitates a shelter from vice and a refuge which creates a very quick and easy to access outlet for thoughts feelings and creative energy overall. Of course we can debate the varying effects hip hop has on the user but that’s not really the focus here. It can be said that hip hop is an outlet as well as an inlet. That would explain why so many young men find this music appealing.
After looking at this evidence (based on pure bias) I asked myself if the state of manhood had anything to do with this situation. Also, I wondered if we would have this form of music reaching the levels it’s at currently if fathers were still fatherly 1850 style. I won’t attempt to be so shallow as to state the only reason there’s hip hop is because of fathers with fear for responsibility. I think there is more than meets the eye. But let’s think about the current crop of men out there. Are we manly men or boys who are under the assumption that 30 is the new 20? Why are so many men impregnating more women than they love and having more kids than they can take care of? Manliness could be the thing worth discussing but not on this fora. Change is something that cannot be stopped. The human soul thrives on change and dynamics. We ought to explore this topic further. I still love hip hop and my father. I also enjoy other forms of music now more than ever. I think what this form of expression has done to the world is worth spreading, we can finally view Hip hop music as a serious from of artistic expression worth paying attention to. Therefore, I would like to state that rappers are not just fatherless sons. Well at least not the good ones. Kindly state what your opinion is on this matter in the comments below.