“So, ya know, 2 many, Drake’s rep w/in hiphop is actually gonna improve aftr this CB incident right? They’ll say he’s ‘a real nigga’,” tweeted Amanda Seales, host of MTV’s Hip Hop POV. It really started me thinking about a co-worker I couldn’t stand that thought simply uttering the phrase, “I’m from Brooklyn,” would make us Philly natives cower and run for cover. If professionals in a downtown office are struggling for street cred in an effort to relate to inner-city youth, I can only imagine the pressures placed on performers in hip-hop.
I get it: It’s a matter of respect. But what we need to understand is that no one understands anyone else’s struggles unless you were right there grinding right along with them. Who knows the things Ray-J had to go through before Brandy made it big. Even when Drake was getting Wheelchair Jimmy money on Degrassi, he still had something in common with your Jay-Z’s, Wale’s and even Tupac’s (stay with me here): At one point they were all young men with nothing but a grind and a dream. And they all wanted the same thing a lot of us want: To be successful. And like Jay-Z once said, “If you can’t respect that, your whole perspective is wack.”
See the term, “You ain’t about that life,” suggests that on some level a person thinks they know you based solely off of one image you portray. Grant it there are some people who are indeed as weak as they appear, but you never know what someone is capable of when pushed to their limit. Even a poodle will bite the shit out of you when backed into a corner. I always say, “Be careful because you never know who’s got a little crazy going on in the head.” Hip-hop culture promotes this attitude of repping where your from every five seconds to prove how down and dangerous you are, or bragging about all of the crimes you’ve committed in order to be respected and taken seriously, but whenever an artist becomes the least bit associated with some genuine emotion and vulnerability, we automatically discredit them. All I’m saying is there’s an abundancy of rappers who claim to be hardcore, when they are about as hard as cotton candy, but there’s also a handful of rappers that have survived some grimy situations who choose not use those experiences to gain acceptance. Which person would you want on your side when shit gets real?
After Ray-J allegedly stepped to Fabulous and now in the accusal aftermath of Drake chucking a champagne bottle at Chris Brown’s chin, the public and media outcries all repeat the same disbelief in the form of, “He ain’t about that life.” Seriously? And what is this life exactly? Are we honestly praising a lifestyle of violence and poverty that somehow makes our hip-hop artists that much more talented or credible? Last time I checked, Drake never claimed to be “hugging the block” or “cooking crack”, yet as of February 2012 his debut album “Thank Me Later” has sold 1,551,000 copies in the United States. Women lie, Rick Ross lies, but numbers don’t. Drake may not be “about that life” but his bank account obviously doesn’t give a damn. And honestly, if some of you basement-studio rappers spent a little less time being “about that life” and bit more time being “about your business” you might be able to make a come up too.