The How-to Guide to Being a Hip Hop Scholar

KRS-One uses the documentary, 40 Years of Hip Hop, to discuss what it means to be a true hip-hop scholar. Everything from the culture to the influence of black individuals, hip hop has been a solid staple in the African American community. From there KRS-One fully defines what it means to be a hip hop star, and how that can be used to affect others. To him, a hip hop star is someone who embodies hip hop to their core and uses that to spread the stories among others. With this definition, I can agree with KRS-One because hip hop can be used to tell life stories that others can relate to, just so they can get a sense that they are not alone in their troubles and experiences.

Another topic that KRS-One talks about is how damaging the public education system is for young and developing minds. To many, the public school system enforces a sense of conformity that “straightness” that each person has to achieve in order to “make it somewhere in life.” At the same time, KRS-One also brings up a good point that as black people, we are forced to conform to the white world around us. In school, we learn about European settlers, and (white) presidents, and (white) inventors, etc. etc. The only time that (maybe) someone that looks like us appears in history is during the dreaded slavery or civil rights unit. To find out more about the history of our people, we have to go searching on our own. And in that aspect, I think the education system fails us. America and Americans (depending on which) take pride in knowing that our country is as diverse as it is, with many people coming from many different backstories. But with this pride, I do not see why this has not leaked down into our school systems yet. Every child does not have to become a scholar in African American history, but to at least touch upon different topics and people away from slavery, the Civil Rights, and the same five people we learn about every year would be a great start.

One of the topics that I do not agree with KRS One said is that hip hop scholars have to be “hip hop” at all times. I cannot find myself agreeing with this statement because this can encourage people to become those they are not, instead of embracing who they are (flaws and all). If they try to become those that which they are not, then that can start into a cycle of always trying to imitate what the individual sees, and from there they can move away from who they truly are. Now, if the hip hop scholar’s real personality is the embodiment of hip hop then that scholar has to look deeper inside of themselves and try to become a role model those trying to find their true selves.

In the same way I disagree with being “hip hop” all the time, I can also find myself agreeing with another meaning of what it means to be hip hop by KRS. In a way, to be hip hop means to be black (to which I ask the question what does that mean?), and moving away from the conforming society that our colonizers have set for us. To be hip hop, the scholar has to embrace who they are as a black person and everything that comes with being black. By doing that, the individual has become a hip hop scholar, since hip hop is so deeply engrained into black history and black culture.

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