Do you feel the beat? The 808 drums bang heavily in your car speakers as a bombastic voice speaks rhythmically over the beat, creating a colorful blend that dances in your ear drums. You vibe, and you start to feel empowered and often hyped from the energy inserted into the track from the producer and the artists that is heightened by the sound engineers.
Hip hop music is a soothing, jarring, joyful, somber, and transporting soundtrack to your life. You love hip hop.
On a hot summer day, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic can feel as warm as the cool, calm sunny breeze that glides across your face. Listening to Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” is like that needed exclamation on a day where catastrophe was avoided and triumph was an accentuation. Chicago artist Twista transports you to the times of Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, and a little Aaliyah to set your backyard barbecue party off you have planned with friends. Lil Durk’s “Dis Ain’t U Want” serves as a boost during the times you feel tried by a boss, coworker, or a friend, and you need a reminder that you are not a push over.
On gloomy day, as water drops keep you cooped inside your home, you smile as you sing “Beep Beep” as you empathize with Missy Elliot because you too can’t stand the rain. After a bad break up, leaving you sulking, staring at your exes’ Facebook photos, you gain strength from Jay Z in having “ninety-nine problems” but your relationship no longer being one. Biggie Smalls’s “Juicy” gives you that needed inspiration with the lines “It was all a dream. I used to read Word Upmagazine.”
You jump in excitement with all of your friends and sing “We gon be alright” with Kendrick Lamar no matter your skin color because you empathize with the fusion of voice and instrumentation in that moment. You even sing passionately, “Trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents” with Tupac Shakur because part of you can relate to times of struggle. You delight in the beneficial exchange of musical pleasure for a temporarily vicarious empathetic moment.
And underneath the music, you are aware of hip hop being predominately made by people of color. You are aware of the struggles that some of your favorite artists have come from and the cycles of mass incarceration and violence that plague their communities. You know that black people are being disproportionately victims of police brutality. You have heard the names of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Philando Castile. Your friends of color speak of their hurtful experiences, yet you only vibe with strangers on records who tell similar stories over pulsating beats — you love hip hop.
Yet, when the record stops, in the middle of the darkness of the silent moments of life, you emulate the muted tones. You accept and enforce the dominant idea that black lives are less valuable and that black lives being of lesser value is due to the actions of black people. To say that black lives matter creates inner dissonance, something not experienced with the distance of empathizing an experience over music. You love hip hop, so how can black lives not matter?