Love and light! #IStillLoveHER is a new monthly column all about sharing love for hip-hop, an art form and culture that’s affected so many of us. This month, I wanted to share my letter with hopes that you learn more about me and appreciate the culture more. If you’re interested in writing a letter, please feel free to send me an email or tweet me at @amirahrashidah.
Hey young, wild, beautiful love child. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with you for years, but every time I get mad at you, something about you makes me love you again.
Thanks to one of my older brothers, my oldest memory of you comes from hearing Nas’ “Black Girl Lost” on repeat back in the summer of ’96. I found myself humming the chorus without being conscious of the lyrics because I was only 7 at the time. As much as my brother got on my everlasting nerve as a kid, he was a big influence on my music tastes. So for that, I thank him for introducing me to you and to the music of my favorite emcee.
When I became a band nerd in middle school, I fell in love with jazz and became even more interested in R&B, especially neo-soul. I paid less attention to hip-hop at that point because of your changing sound at the beginning of the new millennium. I couldn’t really identify with it. I had one view of hip-hop and because I didn’t like a lot of what I heard on the radio, I drifted elsewhere. Imagine a 12 year old willingly listening to Duke Ellington and Miles Davis all the time. I was that kid.
Even though I was a band nerd in middle school and barely paid attention to music in high school, you came back into my life in full force while in college. There was a student organization filled with guys that dedicated itself to you by freestyling every week and talking about how great (and how wack) certain emcees were. They called themselves the Undergrounduates. Their passion and love for you helped me grow in my own rediscovery and love for you.
Since those ten years have passed, your art has been such a beautiful blessing. Times of anxiety, extreme disappointment, and depression were relieved by your influence. Albums like Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly were so helpful in my healing, as they came out in times where things seemed to be so wrong. I guess it’s safe to say that hip-hop, in some ways, saved my life.
Even though I become frustrated at times at some of your changes and the negative messaging you sometimes portray about women, I’m even more frustrated by the people who blame you for the unfortunate things that go on in our communities and our world. Lonnie “Pops” Lynn said on Like Water For Chocolate, “hip-hop [is] the language of the Underground Railroad,” leading people out of captivity, literally and figuratively. People fail to recall or mention how many lives you’ve impacted in a positive way, especially the lives of people of color whose creativity provided them with outlets to search for and have better lives. I won’t say that terrible things don’t happen (because they do), but you aren’t terrible. You’re an art form that’s duplicated and profited from without complete attribution, proper recognition, and enough pay.
Because of that, I’ve become so invested in you over the years that I’ve dedicated part of this site to your influence with hopes of trying to help creatives that are influenced by you. I also decided that whenever I become a lawyer, a lot of my clients have to be music creatives. My goal is to become a change agent just like you have been to so many others.
You are appreciated, love. Thank you.