I know most of you probably wont get what I’m talking about, because I had no clue until now, what people (read: cranky old white guys) mean when they say that “hip hop makes you anti-social”. What do they mean by anti-social? Now considering I always thought anti-social always meant the opposite of being social, I thought their claim was nonsense because hip hop encourages partying, dancing, gang banging and other group activities such as waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care. Now the dictionary definition of anti-social is a little more precise. Here’s what the free dictionary says,
1. Shunning the society of others; not sociable.
2. Hostile to or disruptive of the established social order; marked by or engaging in behavior that violates accepted mores: gangs engaging in vandalism and other antisocial behavior.
3. Antagonistic toward or disrespectful of others; rude.
Now according to this definition, hip hop heads seem dead on anti-social. I know I personally fulfill each one of these criteria, but is that so bad? On the first point, who wants to hang out with everybody? I’m not trying to love everybody. I can respect everyone’s right to be a moron but that doesn’t mean I have to accept their right to be a moron in my company.
On the second point, I actually think some cranky old white man wrote the gang stuff just to spite the hip hop community, but let’s just say it wasn’t. What’s so bad about being hostile or disruptive to the established social order. If the social order is oppressive, unjust or unfair why wouldn’t you rebel against it? Hip hop has always been about bucking the system. Now I don’t want to say that the plight of Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement is the same as wearing different clothes, talking a different way and being hip hop -because it is not. But it is the result of being given freedom. For example, if it were not for the Civil Rights Movement we would have never had the privilege to be free to express ourselves as we see fit. I see hip hop as the result of the Civil Rights era and those old Black folk who hate hip hop should see this as their offspring having something they couldn’t -the freedom to be what they want.
The third point about being rude is purely subjective. A white guy, let’s call him, Bill O’Reilly, could go into a restaurant in Harlem and see Black people “talking loud” and can consider that as rude behavior. But I bet if O’Reilly went into a restaurant in Connecticut and a bunch of white people we’re “arguing” about politics or about which toupÃ©e to get he would probably join in.
You see what this is really about is perception. There’s a scene in that Asher Roth video “Roth Boys” where he’s in an IHOP goofing around and black workers give him that bug eyed look like he’s rude. I can see this happening because any teenage kids are going to be looked at like their rude when they go somewhere to eat, regardless of what music they listen to. Now I only mention this restaurant scenario because a some what known Black republican named John H. McWhorter wrote this about hip hop,
Not long ago, I was having lunch in a KFC in Harlem, sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about 14. Since 1) it was 1:30 on a school day, 2) they were carrying book bags, and 3) they seemed to be in no hurry, I assumed they were skipping school. They were extremely loud and unruly, tossing food at one another and leaving it on the floor.
Black people ran the restaurant and made up the bulk of the customers, but it was hard to see much healthy â€œblack communityâ€ here. After repeatedly warning the boys to stop throwing food and keep quiet, the manager finally told them to leave. The kids ignored her. Only after she called a male security guard did they start slowly making their way out, tauntingly circling the restaurant before ambling off. These teens clearly werenâ€™t monsters, but they seemed to consider themselves exempt from public norms of behaviorâ€”as if they had begun to check out of mainstream society.
What struck me most, though, was how fully the boysâ€™ musicâ€”hard-edged rap, preaching bone-deep dislike of authorityâ€”provided them with a continuing soundtrack to their antisocial behavior. So completely was rap ingrained in their consciousness that every so often, one or another of them would break into cocky, expletive-laden rap lyrics, accompanied by the angular, bellicose gestures typical of rap performance. A couple of his buddies would then join him. Rap was a running decoration in their conversation.
So it’s really hip hop to blame for these teens for being rude? I’ve seen country boys get rowdy at McDonalds and it wasn’t even high noon yet. It doesn’t make sense that you can blame a type of music for being anti-social because their are other types of music that make you just as anti-social. Look at those crazy goth’s, your telling me those people aren’t anti-social? Or those Asian emo kids? Or those punk skaters? It seems to me the real anti-socials are the old conservatives who disregard hip hop and all “young” people music because they are the one’s being disrespectful, hostile to the social order of teenagers and not very cool.