Hip-Hop: A gift and a curse

Lucias Potter - Senegal

January 17, 2012

For those who know me, they know Hip-Hop is my life. I listen to music more hours then I sleep. When I’m bored I write graffiti pieces on sheets of paper. Occasionally I would go to a Turf dancing battle. You could imagine my joy to see the Hip-Hop scene present in Senegal.

I remember the first hint of Hip-Hop I saw was aerosol painting on the walls in Mermoz, a neighborhood in Dakar. It wasn’t anything fancy but I knew Hip-Hop was the culprit. Later on that day when I got to know some people my age, I found out that Hip-Hop was very alive in Senegal.  Every concert a known artist has in Senegal gets sold out instantaneously (likely American artists?). Even in the Senegalese dance classes I saw elements similar to our dances in America. The best Hip-Hip influence I’ve seen is when my brother rapped a freestyle verse in Wolof, a major language of Senegambia. This energy made a big part of me feel at home.

Little did I know I was going to feel even more at home; although, this time it wasn’t heart warming. I was having a conversation with a good friend I made about the kind of wives we wanted. He asked me what race and I said, “I don’t even care I don’t discriminate”. He started to laugh and at the end of his laugh he responded, “My n*gga” in a laughing voice. The first reaction I had was complete confusion as if I had never heard that word in my life. The second reaction I had was to just ignore it as I do on a regular basis. The third reaction that came out of my mouth because I was sick of that words pollution. I explained to him the history of the word and how some people take offense. After that he never said it again. On a separate altercation, I was talking with another fellow host brother and he told how he was a gangster and all the bad things he did.
He was dressed like 50cent and used all of the destructive diction there is in rap music. I thought I would never witness this in Africa.

Everything in the above paragraphs is an influence of the Hip-Hop Culture. That’s why I call it a gift and a curse. Hip-Hop today has the power to influence the world. It’s up to the Hip-Hop generation to choose what that influence will be. We can influence people to be prisoners or politicians, Hate speakers or revolutionary public speakers, gangsters or Panthers. Above all Hip-Hip artist must decide between making money or positive change.

Lucias Potter