HIP HOP AND HUMILITY
(Lessons from an unlikely world)
The above subject matter is a contradiction. Hip hop and humility should ideally never be in the same sentence. Contradictions! Anyone who is not a first time reader of my written material would have noticed that I am a sucker for contradictions, a fan and a student at that. In most of my writing you will find contradictions, oxymorons and similar references. I believe this is not unusual as life is never one dimensional .Art experts or context readers would look at the same painting or written text and give varying views of what they had picked from the same material, and so are human beings, contradictions are what makes us exciting and interesting, if we were one dimensional life and our own stories would be boring, stale and incomplete.
There are sayings like; one man’s poison is another man’s cup of tea. In biblical theology one can be born again but the heart of man will remain desperately seeking mischief and wickedness (theologians are welcome to argue this one out). Paul had alluded to this matter when he addressed the issue of the thorn in his flesh, what did God respond to him; My grace is made sufficient at your point of weakness… in another passage there are sayings like when I am weak, then I am strong. The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first. The greatest among you shall be the least and the least shall be the greatest. By these bible passages I am not arguing that the bible is a contraction, what I am stating is that the bible teaches us that life is a contradiction. Passages such as he uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Should someone argue that we should not pursue knowledge, wisdom and education? No we should pursue them and much more so. However we should have the humility to acknowledge that the more we know the more the new knowledge demonstrates how ignorant we were (and still are).
“Bola ba Teyela panshi noti mumulu”
I digress! Hip Hop and Humility, the title for this write up is a contradiction. It is my perception that hip hop as an act or culture can be stated to be devoid of humility. Hip hop is about fronting, bragging and stunting, all things which are more to do with vice than virtue. Hip hop music is full of contradictions, I will cite hip hop scholar or historian Michael Eric Dyson who wrote that: in hip hop the same woman when she is a mother she is lauded as a queen, but if she was a girlfriend or even Baby Mama she is condemned as a woman of easy virtue (edit to read something explicit).
Hip hop and humility I am still digressing. I have to get to the intended purpose for this write up. Let me get to it.
Life is full of lessons amongst which are the lessons I can draw from hip hop on why as human beings we need to be humble, not as a disposition but as a true measure of an individual’s character. In 1989/90 or so Rakim Allah signed the first million dollar contract and the whole hip hop world went agog. Rappers the chola boys to local drug dealers and night club music promoters were now talking million dollar marks. Rakim for those not familiar with hip hop is the Lionel Messi / Steven Hawkins of hip hop, an original in its truest sense, a pace setter, trajectory shifter and a natural genius in lyrical sense. When he got the unheard of USD 1 Million contract people would have been forgiven to think of it as near impossibility in hip hop, a token situation, that a “wanna be” rapper would never even bother to dream of. But as we know life is a journey, the bible goes on to say: No eye has seen no ear has heard and no mind has conceived the things that God has prepared for those who love him.
When we go ahead of others in attainment of wealth, education and all manner of achievement and we set what they can call new records in whatever endeavour of life it may be. We have to look at our achievements in a more introspective and contextual manner with a dose of humility. For those who are celebrating another person’s achievement we should not hold back in our adulation, I am referring to the individual who is receiving the adulation and who has done the achievement. Our achievement is not all to do with our own individual genius no matter how talented we are. Malcolm Gladwell has ably argued this out in his seminal book; Outliers. And more over the records we have set as much as they are GLASS ceilings they are subject to be broken. One of my favourite sayings is by the late Robert R Schuller; success is never ending, failure is never final. Failure and hardship tend to develop character in individuals, the old adage goes on to say; necessity is the mother of all invention. Failure is unlike the mark of Cain where he was labelled and labelled for ever. ‘Failure is written in pencil it can be erased’.
To every action there is an equal but opposite reaction, and if it seems dark now; no opportunities, no regard or affirmation of one’s dignity from fellow human beings, then surely the morning will come. Any hard working and resolute individual will get to have their moment in the sun; when everything you will say will be considered genius, even one’s own fart( forgive me for being crude) will be considered as part of the latest Parisian fragrance that only the sophisticates and bourgie could appreciate (Big buyer effect/the emperor’s new clothes) . That time will come as sure as night follows day.
Back to Rakim Allah, as he, a natural genius was on top of the world, a fellow New Yorker and age met was still in experimentation stage with his raps, he was at that time in the ill-fated 1990’s subgenre/style of what I can equate to mumble rapping. It took a not so traditional path and a bit of time before that rap career blossomed. He has never been so much touted as a natural or as @realdonaldtrump (I like to use his twitter handle for his name) calls stable genius. He was a product of experimentation and lessons drawn from the industry as a whole and particularly other rappers. That rapper has come to be regarded as the GOAT (Greatest of all time) of which I subscribe to, even for me a Tupac fanatic, do agree with this view. On the issue of money Jayz has not only come to be the richest rapper dead or alive (as if dead rappers resurrect to get on the hustle… in any case hip hop fans will get me), for 2017 Forbes reported that Jayz made US$ 90 Million within a year, a far cry from 1990’s rap industry monetary standards (even in real money or inflationary adjusted terms). The first shall be the last and the last shall be the first.
” ‘Gimme a second I swear’ I would say about my rap career till 96 came Niggas am HERE!” – Jay Z (Dec. 4th, the Black Album)
“Duha! Duha! You never thought that hip hop would take it this far…” – Notorious B.I.G ( Juice, Ready to die Album)
Humility is a very cardinal virtue in life (I would like to emphasise that I am not talking about people’s personalities or disposition). In life we can take a lesson from the bible passage in Philippians 2: 5-11 but particularly the beginning verse which says. In our relationships with one another we should be like Christ who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped but made himself nothing…
If there is any one in your life that, even you have concluded to be going nowhere, render them some grace and register your humanity to them.
“Uusunga umunankwe, teshibikwwa!”
Holla at your Boy! – Aluta Continua Victoria Acerta
P.S: I seek your indulgence for the informal and colloquial manner in which I have structured this write up, it is a hip hop writing after all. If I have missed to cite sources of any quotations it is not to imply that the sayings are my own.
“Instead of learning from the people who achieve the most, learn from people who achieve the most with the least of natural talent and opportunity. They have to study their craft more carefully and work harder to master it” – Adam Grant
With reference to the above; regards to CR7 in light of his epic debut performance at world cup 2018
“Grand Hustle over Talent!”