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I am a Latino rapper from the D.C. area, and I must admit that I was actually disturbed by Alex Rogolsky’s comments in his letter (The Mail, 2/27). For this man, who is apparently out of touch, to make comments about something that he has no understanding of is ludicrous. Saying “hiphop sucks” is only this man’s opinion. It holds no weight and has no meaning to us. I am picturing a middle-aged, balding white man flipping through the channels on his cable TV and glancing at a 50 Cent video and upset at himself because he does not understand our culture as a whole.
Hiphop is a way of life. It is not some watered-down fabrication put together by record executives to make money. Yes, it is making these same record executives money, but that is not the point. To say that hiphop is dead and that it died long ago is just plain retarded. Long ago when? When Run-DMC reached platinum status with many hits in the early and mid-’80s? When MC Hammer broke records with his millions of records sold? When N.W.A. hit the platinum mark with little or no radio play? Or when Tupac outsold every other artist—from jail? Or when he died? Or how about when 50 Cent sold more on his first week than any other artist in the world?
Hiphop can never die. As long as suburban America enjoys hearing about what we go through as Latinos and African-Americans, we will continue to rap about our pains and struggles. To say that hiphop is dead is like saying that we are dead. Hiphop is the voice of our neighborhoods, letting people like Alex Rogolsky, who live comfy in their beautiful homes up in Rockville, understand what we are going through on a daily basis. Yeah, 50 Cent raps about guns and drugs, because he lived in that environment. I’m assuming that Alex Rogolsky is a Beach Boys fan or a Beatles fan or something like that. The Beach Boys talked about what they knew and what they experienced growing up—stuff like surfer girls, beach parties, and good times. Yeah, we experience “good times” in the ’hood, but 75 percent of the time we’re hearing gunshots or sirens or dealing with crackheads and liquor stores on every corner. As soon as all that is gone, then you will hear about the picnics, the fun times at the parks. We as rappers will keep reporting what we see every day to people like Rogolsky until then—until someone sits down and says, “You know what? Either let me stand up and try to help change things, or let me just keep my mouth shut and keep my opinions to myself and mind my own business.”
It is understandable that Rogolsky thinks that hiphop is dead. If I listened to easy-listening radio and Bill O’Reilly all day, I would believe the same thing. But we are everywhere, Alex, and you can’t escape us. The top five songs in America today are hiphop or R&B/hiphop. The top-selling tennis shoes in America are not those endorsed by athletes but by rappers. We’re on your McDonald’s commercials, we’re on your Sprite commercials, we’re in your sitcoms, we’re in your major motion pictures, we’re on you’re Super Bowl halftime shows—we’re everywhere. Hiphop has not died—it is just reaching puberty. Once it is full-grown, it will make a mark in history as a voice for those who are trapped in a hopeless society.