The Khalil Amani Reader

Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!

The Scapegoating of Hot 97

By Khalil Amani

I’m as old or older than most of the people taking shots at Hot 97, so if I sound disrespectful or condescending—chalk it up as someone who isn’t swayed to walk on eggshells because I’m a addressing an iconic hip-hop figure/s. The other side ain’t walking on eggshells! Hot 97 is an iconic institution in hip-hop and these naggers running roughshod over the station with disrespect! (Besides, who cares what a non-factor like me has to say anyway, right?)

In hip-hop circles, New York City’s radio station Hot 97 is considered the “Mecca of Hip-Hop Radio.” The first rap songs on a mainstream radio station came through Hot 97. Hot 97 is legendary! Their radio personalities (Funkmaster Flex, DJ Kay Slay, Miss Info, Rosenberg, Angie Martinez [now with rival station Power 105], Mister Cee, and Cipha Sounds) are celebrities in their own right. Even Program Director Ebro “Old Man” Darden has risen to superstar status within hip-hop radio. Most recently, Hot 97 had their own “reality” show on VH-1—surprisingly clever, fresh and funny; without the forged drama and coonery of other reality shows. I really liked that show! (Somebody tell that chick with the glasses she’s hawt for me!)

But, as of lately, the old-head hip-hop regime has been in attack mode. They are criticizing Hot 97 and its P.D. Ebro like it ain’t no tomorrow with legendary rapper Chuck D and ex-Rocafella boss Dame Dash being the two biggest names throwing shots. These two have taken the station and people associated with the station to task—emphasizing how rap has been taken over by “culture vultures” and making the distinction between rap music and “real hip-hop.” I always get nervous for the genre when Negroes start defining hip-hop and rap.

Honestly? Chuck D’s critique and criticism of hip-hop music, as played by Hot 97 is spot-on, but the problem is that the blame is being placed at the wrong feet! Another case of blaming the Jews for killing Jesus, when the Romans actually strung him up! Chuck D's critique is misplaced.

Let’s look at this thingy from the ground up—those who make hip-hop music, the rappers themselves and secondly, the consumers—us’es! We can blame corporate America, Hot 97 and these other “purveyors of filth” until we turn blue in the face, but until you change the product, the crack-head is gonna keep on buying it! Yes! There are other forms of rap (like conscious rap), but, unfortunately, in the streets and in the (strip) clubs, that shit ain’t poppin’!

As much as music is supposed to liberate, its primary function is to make us dance, feel happy and take us away from our mundane existences flipping burgers. Music that makes us think, act and puts us on the path to self-discovery and liberation are very adult and mature themes that these young’uns ain’t really tryna hear.

I wanna hear Chuck D move his argument to the crux of the problem—these ignant-ass rappers who are in this thing for the dollar, not to motivate and elevate the consciousness of young (black) America. The music industry and radio stations aren’t some altruistic body that’s interested in the cultivation of the Urban Bantustan! They give no fucks about what we rhyme about! It is the “bullest of shits” to think that the music industry and Hot 97 owe any allegiance to doin’ the right thang! If the radio doesn’t play what’s hot they make no mullah and will find themselves out of work. As for balance—again, the radio doesn’t care about the full body of work that rap music has to offer! Hell! You can’t get any DJ in any city to play a plethora or sampling of different rap styles! They wanna keep the club turnt up!

Chuck D’s righteous rap mentality is dated. “Fight The Power?” Nah! These rappers tryna be “Niggas in Paris!” Rappers aren’t trying to motivate and uplift, something Jay Z understood all-too-well when he rapped, “Truthfully, I wanna rhyme like Common Sense/When your cents got that much in common/And you been hustling since your inception/Fuck perception. Go with what makes sense”—and what makes sense/cents is this wack-ass rap we hear erry’day all day on all of these rap stations, not just Hot 97!

Hot 97 is not the problem, so can we cut out the scapegoating? Radio stations, from time immemorial have played what’s hot! Period, point blank! Radio stations are not the moral compass of any genre of music. Radio stations are owned and operated by mostly white men in suits who pick one of us (like Ebro Darden) to oversee the plantation rotation of popular music. If you ain’t poppin’—hush! If you wanna preach on your records, become a preacher! If you think you’re more conscious and blacker-than-thou—follow the Nation’s lead and “do for self”—get ya own radio station and get it poppin’!

At the end of the day, criticism from our elders is to be expected, but scapegoating radio Hot 97 to be more “balanced” is like asking corporations to have a conscience. Ebro Darden is being used (respectfully!) He is cannon fodder. His name is put on front-street and drug through the Social Media mud as the bad-guy. Eff outta here! He is merely the puppeteer, the ringmaster (again, respectfully!) of a conglomerate whose number one priority is to make a profit—and if that means playing "garbage," which, might I add, is a subjective term (i.e. in the eye of the beholder, like beauty) then play garbage! Get off Hot 97 and Ebro’s nut-sack and recognize what it is; “If you can’t be used, then you’re useless!” Stop scapegoating Hot 97!

Khalil Amani is a blogger for AllHipHop. He also writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” 07). Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. Visit The Coonerific One at Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Instagram @khalil_amani, Youtube @ yahweh 12


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