Introspection is hard. Being introspective in public about a topic you feel deeply ashamed about is even harder. Few things grow without light; and change and maturity definitely require shining a light on issues. In this 9-part series, I’m shining a light on the true reasons I failed to connect with southern hip-hop.
It’s easy to hide behind my affinity for New York rappers, but that narrative wouldn’t tell the full truth. That narrative would only offer a shield protecting me from needed discourse and allowing me to hide. Yet, the full truth is worthy of exploration. The full truth requires slowly and intentionally peeling back layers of respectability politics, the history of the Great Migration, and how I was guilty of relegating an important part of our culture to the “B-side” of a life.
Since publishing my first newsletter, I have championed the voices of those dismissed to the “B-side.” I’ve even called for our socially conscious rappers to join in by stepping up and supporting Black women more tangibly. I’ve shared why I started this bulletin and what I want to accomplish with it. What I have yet to share is how I couldn’t see the richness in a perspective that felt different from my own. This is not something that should be dismissed as youthful ignorance. To dismiss this would be a missed opportunity for us, the collective, to honestly reflect on ways we perpetuate harm in our community.
Harm comes in many forms, as I’ve documented in my writing career. While rejecting southern rap and artists may feel like a drop in the bucket in comparison to larger cultural issues, it’s important to deconstruct it. It’s important to discuss how some of us reject members of our community because they feel different. It’s harmful because it perpetuates a sense of “otherness” that causes division within our community. So yes, this collection is about hip-hop, but at its core, it’s about us.
Every Monday I will publish a new piece from this series. I don’t want you to simply read this as a quick newsletter, I want you to deconstruct your own emotions and be honest about what, if any, parts feel familiar. At the end of this series, I will go live on Facebook or Instagram so we can discuss it together. The details regarding the date and time of this discussion will be provided later, so stay tuned until the end.
I want this culminating discussion to be a safe space because I truly believe we learn and grow as a community. I want to hear your thoughts on the implications of rejecting aspects of our culture, and on what parts of the story you connected with. Ideally, I want us to collectively discuss ways to lovingly correct each other when we are guilty of relegating perspectives to the “B-side” of our cultural narrative.