These were our heroes…- J. Cole
“For such a pretty girl, you listen to such vulgar music.” My grandma has said this to me since I was probably about 12. At first I’d try to defend it, explain what it meant to me. But over a decade later it makes me smile. That’s the summer I discovered Notorious B.I.G. A slightly congested and completely self-assured voice set the first verse of “Flava In Ya Ear,” and a star was born.
In that distinct moment, I fell in love with hip hop.
When we celebrate the icons every February for Black History Month, emcees are quietly set aside. And it seems like an obvious omission. The lyrics are aggressive, and we’ve lost so many to senseless violence.
There hasn’t been a bigger genre since the civil rights era, both colorless and class-transcending than hip hop. We use the aggression to fuel the power behind our own success stories. We remember those lost to violence and use their verses as a blueprint for change.
When 26 year old Carmelo Anthony returned home as a NY Knick, with an MSG welcome that only a New Yorker can truly appreciate, the goosebumps were from the music that made him.
For the emcees who shaped us and the music that made us.