Discovering my Facebook posts is going to be based on what I see come across my feed on Facebook. I’ve stopped writing long form posts on the platform because posting a lot of information there actually undercuts the traffic to your own websites. What I’m doing now is when Facebook reminds me of a post I wrote that received a lot of interaction I’m going to pull it and add it here. Below is a post from a couple of years ago where I was responding to a statement that music doesn’t hurt anyone and doesn’t shape the way people behave.
After the last two days of discussion on hip-hop, I was left with a statement by one of the people participating that stuck with me. I grew up as poor as you could basically could outside of growing up in Sugar Ditch in Mississippi. We lived in a two bedroom apartment on Fifth Street in North Memphis. My sister and I slept on a letout coach (for those of you who are cultured a hideaway bed) in the living room of the apartment. My great aunt and grandmother slept in the bedrooms. My mom slept with my grandmother and my uncle KF from Chicago slept in the same room as my aunt when he came in. I never saw a fast food restaurant until my mom got a permanent job on the other side of town. I was 12. From kindergarten to 6th grade I attended 5 different schools and lived in 4 different apartments. We ate ketchup sandwiches and molasses sandwiches. We shopped at Frank’s, which was a corner grocery near North 6th Street and I never went into a supermarket until I was around 12. Even with all of the situations after we moved from North Memphis, we moved 5 times in the 5 years I was in middle and high school, I never knew we were poor. I didn’t understand this until I left Memphis and came back to visit the places where I grew up.
The person I was discussing hip-hop with made a statement about how the music doesn’t affect people and that it’s just entertainment. He said people have to accept responsibility for their actions. I stated that I was and he was an exception to the rule. That we both should have died. I went to jail after high school and ended up in Juvi once they realized I wasn’t 18, but that wasn’t the end of my life. I had a gun put to my head while I was in the Post Apartments, and I did a lot of things I look back on and shake my head. But at the end of the day I came out okay. When he said it wasn’t music that drove me to the actions that saved my life, I can remember specifically looking up Garret Morgan after hearing KRS-ONE’s “You Must Learn”. I can remember clearly Professor Xs voice on X Clan’s “Funkin Lessons”. I remember like yesterday Paris’ “The Devil Made Me Do It” and when I started to go astray, I remember being conflicted because Chuck D told me how to love myself and my blackness. While the music may not have told me to make the decisions I made, instead of hearing the cautious tale of Colors by Ice T, I remember my friends and I seeing the images of flashing gang signs and practicing those gang signs. I also remember hearing 2 Live Crew’s, “Hey we want some P—-y” and well wanting some P, lol.
I say all of this to say that music in the Black community has always been so integrated into the struggle and movements that we honestly don’t know what came first, the movement or the music. Black Art dictates life unlike art in any other community. The people learn from and follow the art. I made it because I discovered art in the form of books, movies, plays, poetry. Today’s generation only has the music and if you don’t think it is shaping them because you made it, you are a part of the problem.