Hip-hop has been part of my life for over 35 years. I have witnessed the rise of the most powerful youth movement this world has ever seen from an incredibly unique vantage point. In the early days, not many people or the press cared about the personal life of a rapper, now rappers are the most famous people on the planet. So I understand why the Jay Z and Solange situation is front page news, but rappers and artists have been making front page news for quite some time.
When Dr. Sean Combs took the stage this weekend in our nation’s capital and professed that “you are the most powerful generation this world has ever seen,” in his commencement address at Howard University, he said that with confidence. The confidence that has been built from fighting for every civil right and social justice movement ever since Puffy was a young kid interning for Andre Harrell at Uptown Records. There has not been one issue Puffy has been silent about. Front page news.
When the news broke that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine were selling Beats Electronics to Apple for BILLIONS of dollars, all everyone wanted to talk about was how lucrative the deal was. But, the wealth the two of them have accumulated has been generously shared with so many other people, especially last year (BEFORE THE APPLE DEAL), when they announced their $70 million donation to USC to create the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Front page news.
When Jay Z and so many other artists showed up at the rally to end the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the foundation to America’s “War on Drugs,” the rest of this country was awoken to a movement that now has reached the halls of Congress and the Oval Office of the White House, quickly bringing an end to a failed and destructive war. When thousands of people come home from prison over the next few years, it will be thanks to the leadership of a younger generation that no longer accepts a nation obsessed with mass incarceration. Front page news.
As the front pages begin to wallow in the aftermath of a family fight, I hope that we can keep all of this in perspective, that there is much more work to be done to make this country more compassionate, tolerant and generous. But, if this generation keeps its head down and continues to do the work, I know we will arrive in a much more harmonious world.