Gladys Knight took time to send a scathing dart to the hip hop community and rap music.
During an interview for her upcoming film "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," by Tyler Perry, Gladys discussed her history in music; the ups and downs of the industry; her family, and took time to answer questions from fans. One of her fans asked how she thought hip-hop changed the nature of black music? Her answer is below:
Well, itís been good as far as giving young artists an opportunity to get out there. But, itís been bad, in my opinion, as far as the quality of the music and the stories that they tell. Itís one thing to be raw about your history, but they took it to another level and it became vulgar. It has not elevated our industry musically, and it definitely has not elevated us as African-Americans, because we show disrespect for our partners, men and women. I believe we have lowered our self-esteem with these performances and presentations.
Well. I won't be taking any Midnight Trains to Georgia anytime soon!
Ms. Knight's words seems to mimic the criticism made by older people in and out of the entertainment community. There seems to be a common thought that hip hop, within itself, is the sole contributor to the ills of the black community. Comments are often made about the self depreciating, violent, and misogynistic lyrics that are present in some popular rap songs.
When these claims are made, I always pause to reflect about a more holistic view of the hip hop culture and rap music. Yes, there are absolutely songs and MCs that glorify violence and create negative energy within the black community. However, there are many artists, without as much pop culture impact, that have uplifting, positive, and amazingly creative art. Ms. Knight claims that hip hop "has not elevated our industry musically." With that said, some say hip hop is the most culturally dominant and impactful music in the past 100 years.
Interestingly enough, when asked about a quote in her biography that reads ďI have seen it all, to be sure, but rarely participated in it," Ms. Knight says:
The drugs, the partying, the alcohol, and the bad behavior in the way we treat each other. The cheatingÖ ugh! Over the years, I have definitely not participated in those things. Thatís what I meant.
It seems like the older generation had some issues in their heyday as well!
Besides Ms. Knight's view on hip hop; there seems to be a larger issue. Instead of guiding and leading the rappers that they have problems with, older artists and staples within various genres of music, when given the chance, turn their back on hip hop music and the MCs that create it. It seems like older artists could share their experiences and serve as mentors and/or advisors to artists that my need it.
Some may even say that, specifically within the black community, it's same relationship between elders and young people; members of the Civil Rights generation, and those of us in Generation X and/or the Millennial Generation. Much can be said of why there is a disdain between older and younger generations in music, but it is my sincere hope that both sides can find and appreciate their similarities and differences.