Young Guru Says "Hip Hop Is Not A Color-Based Thing"
Young Guru recalls seeing Afrika Bambaataa's notebook placed next to ancient Egyptian scrolls in a museum.
In a newly-published interview with Hardknock TV, audio engineer/producer Young Guru offered his thoughts on race and Hip Hop. During the interview, Young Guru was asked what can be done to ensure that Hip Hop remains at its essence and doesn’t get absorbed into the mainstream so much that its history is lost.
While speaking on the matter, the beatsmith explained that Hip Hop needs to be properly documented and preserved. He also spoke on white artists in Hip Hop and shared his belief that Hip Hop isn’t color-based and says it’s the one place where the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has been realized.
“If you don’t control what it is it can easily become something else,” Young Guru said. “If you don’t take and accept who you are someone else is gonna take your culture and flip it and do something else to it and not give you the credit for it. So, it’s up to Hip Hoppers to document Hip Hop, right? But the way that you preserve what it is is to teach the youth exactly where it came from. So, that their expression at the core of it is Hip Hop, right? So, when it spreads to different countries, different continents, it’s still the core of it is Hip Hop. But the expression is always gonna be new because the person is new…You can’t tell me that the Beastie Boys are not Hip Hop. You can’t tell me that MC Serch is not Hip Hop. What I think that people when they look at when it spreads, the audience themselves may not be Hip Hop. Macklemore’s audience may not be the biggest Hip Hop audience, but you can’t say that Macklemore himself is not Hip Hop. Hip Hop is not a color-based thing, right? It’s actually the place where Dr. King’s dream is the one place where it’s been realized, right? Where it doesn’t really matter what color you are. It matters how dope you are.”
Prior to speaking on race in Hip Hop and preserving the genre, Young Guru expressed his approval of Hip Hop being taught more often at colleges and universities. He later recalled visiting an exhibit at Cornell University and seeing Afrika Bambaataa’s notebook placed next to an ancient Egyptian scroll.
“We’ve always said that you can take the poetry of Hip Hop and teach it as classes,” he said. “There’s so much that can be learned from not just the lyrics, but the production and the social context of why these albums were made. But it’s great to see that people are finally recognizing Hip Hop as something that’s so important that it should be in these arenas and be taught. I think one of the greatest things for me was when I went to Cornell to check out the Hip Hop exhibit that they have. They actually have like Afrika Bambaataa’s notebook next to ancient Egyptian scrolls. So, you see the respect level…You really value that notebook and see the historical value in Afrika Bambaataa’s notebook the same way that we now see the historical value in some ancient Egyptian scroll. You know? That’s a huge statement…The only problem that I have with it is that you have to be really careful as to who is the information giver. And what information that they’re giving. And the great thing about Hip Hop is that the people who created this, the forefathers, our founding fathers are still alive.”
Young Guru’s interview with HardknockTV can be found below.