While touring the country to promote her role in the latest Tyler Perry flick, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Gladys Knight took some time out of here arduous schedule to speak her mind on a few topics. One in particular, Hip-Hop, was very near to her being, personally and professionally.
The legendary R&B diva has sold thousands of records, created countless classic status tracks, and has shaped the careers of countless artists possibly for generations to come. Second only to the late, great “King of Soul”, James Brown, the “Love Overboard” songstress is one of the most sampled artists in all of Hip-Hop.
With that kind of history, one would think she would have nothing but positive critiques on the genre that gave her music a much needed second wind, but in true Baby Boomer fashion, the “Empress of Soul” chose to take a less reflective and constructive route. Speaking to several media outlets, the legend chose down talked the influence that Hip-Hop has had on culture, carefully taking shots at a genre that she obviously cares little about.
“Well, it’s been good as far as giving young artists an opportunity to get out there. But, it’s been bad, in my opinion, as far as the quality of the music and the stories that they tell. It’s one thing to be raw about your history, but they took it to another level and it became vulgar. It has not elevated our industry musically, and it definitely has not elevated us as African-Americans, because we show disrespect for our partners, men and women. I believe we have lowered our self-esteem with these performances and presentations.”
Like anyone else, she is entitled to her opinion, as many of the things that she said truly expressed some of the very real problems in Hip-Hop. But it is all too common for people to use a popular medium as a scapegoat, with Urban entertainment always serving as a prime target for those who seek to make excuses for societies woes and social ailments.
It is true that some aspects of Hip-Hop are unsavory and hedonistic, but the same could be said for any form of entertainment. At the end of the day, social and moral responsibility has to be taught and ingrained at home, it is not the job of artists to “raise” their fans. Ms. Knight, and all Hip-Hop detractors, would do well to remember that before they place any more doom and gloom on any other art form.