Latinos and the Gentrification of Hip Hop

“Appreciate the art that came through Puerto Ricans and Blacks / Speakin’ the facts / the sound is much deeper than wax…” — Common, Like They Used to Say

People devote their lives to it. They believe in its power. And while it has always inspired hatred and backlash from those who don’t comprehend its essence, there’s no question that it’s long invoked a certain brand of fanaticism, too. In that way, you could say hip-hop is one of the most polarizing forms of art.

Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian fame is one of its biggest proponents. But he’s pretty pissed about how things have taken shape. He doesn’t mind speaking on it either, detailing his hang-ups with zeal and unwavering conviction. Jamar, whose music career reached its peak in the 90s, considers himself a purist—a living reminder of hip-hop’s long held traditional values. “I’m that voice of what hip-hop used to be,” he told Leon Neyfakh. His frustrations? The growing presence and acceptance of homosexuality in the music, rappers wearing skirts and chalking it up to self-expression, and, well, white rappers in general. “You know this is a black man’s thing.”

But is it?

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–Juan Vidal