Hip Hop Environmental Issues[edit | edit source]

According to Hiphopphilisophy.com a major theme in hip hop philosophy is:

RESPECT FOR MOTHER NATURE: Supporting and/or participating in any action, industry or organization that results in environmental destruction and/or damage to the Earth's atmosphere, is contributing to the depreciation of men & women's future survival and existence on Earth. Contributing to such industries, of tobacco, alcohol, dead animal flesh, sugar abuse, legal & illegal drugs, legal & illegal destruction of the rain forest, fossil fuels, law against self-farming, etc., is disrespecting Mother Nature and The Creator, by disrespecting its creation(s). Source:[1]

Hip hop has addressed environmental issues in some songs. Consider the number of hip hop songs here with environmental and sustainability themes.

On the whole, however, hip hop focuses on the environment of poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity found in the inner city. For example, off the album "Seven's Travels", the song is "Shhh" it is about his love from where he is from and grateful that his city does not have all the problems of others: pollution, Overpopulation, etc.

Old Myths: African American Concern for the Environment[edit | edit source]

On the whole environmental organizations tend to be under representative of both minorities and those in poverty. This has led to a stereotype that when racial discrimination and inadequate education are immediate worries for Africans Americans, environmental welfare is not a priority[2]. But "Dispelling Old Myths: African American Concern for the Environment," a report published in the June 2003 issue of Environment magazine, disproves many of these assumptions. According to a study conducted in the Detroit metropolitan area, 23% more blacks than whites cited neighborhood environmental problems as among their most significant concerns. Although whites mentioned global environmental concerns 16% more often than blacks, most of their responses were in regard to ozone depletion, which results in skin cancer, a disease that affects whites disproportionately more than African Americans.

Paul Mohai, the author of the report and an associate professor at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, says, "There is so much evidence [that blacks] are concerned [about the environment]. Unfortunately, those concerns have been invisible to the majority of Americans and [to] traditional environmentalists."

African American environmental concerns may be a result of the poorer environmental conditions in which many blacks live. But there is no statistical difference between the way blacks and whites rate the seriousness of nature preservation issues, such as lack of open space, oil spills, and national park preservation. In some cases, when compared with white Americans, substantially higher percentages of African Americans rated rain forest extinction, acid rain, and the greenhouse effect as "very serious." This negates the assumption that social issues affecting African Americans take precedent over their concerns about the environment.[3]

Poverty, Ignorance and Lack of Opportunity[edit | edit source]

"The tragic death of Jam Master Jay should serve as a reminder of the condition of poverty, ignorance and lack of opportunity inherent in our urban communities across the country," said Russell Simmons, Co-Founder of Island Def Jam Music Group and Chairman of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network.

"Young black men are being murdered in Hollis, Queens and elsewhere every day, but no one ever hears about them because they aren't famous. What the music reflects is the environment in which people live. Hopefully, the death of Jam Master Jay will remind us all that we need to address the disease plaguing our urban communities and not the symptoms." (from Blackelectorate.com)

Source: [4]

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME[edit | edit source]

Hip-hop started in the early 1970s in the South Bronx as an alternative to violence. When the hip-hop moguls started out, they were ignored and underestimated. However, eventually they started doing business for themselves and came up with their own company names such as FUBU (For Us By Us) which is a black fashion label. Hip-hop has sprung all the way to the top. However, not all businesses are ready to openly embrace hip-hop.

The emergence of Gangsta Rap in the early 1990s hardened hip-hop. It gave it a more thugish style which is still prevelent. "An intense East Coast-West Coast rivalry left two particularly prominent hip-hop artists dead: In 1996, Los Angeles' Tupac Shakur was murdered, and less than a year later, New York's Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in an act considered to be payback." On a more lighter note, hip-hop lingo has penetrated popular culture. --Gabby 13:36, 26 October 2007 (PDT) [5]

Hip hop as a method of environmental communication[edit | edit source]

Although the environment is not the most common hip hop theme, it is becoming a popular way of reaching modern students with positive environmental messages. For example, the new breed of rappers from Earth Team, an environmental network for teens, teachers and youth leaders produces the GreenScreen TV show.

Sample lyrics: "Cruising in my hybrid, saving my environment, don't let my pride get in the way of listening to them scientists..." [6]

Likewise, this Hip-Hop CG-Infused Environmental Music Video can get the message about modern environmental problems across much more effectively than a text book chapter.

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