Lessons From Hip-Hop

By Warren Cornelius

    When did you fall in love with hip-hop?  Was it in 1979 when Sugar Hill Gang blasted on the scene with “Rapper’s Delight” or was it three years later when Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five dropped the first socially conscious rap song, “The Message?”

    For me it was Run DMC’s “Hard Times” because it was the first record I could remember that dealt directly with the struggles of everyday life.

    Like Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan contemplated in the hit movie Brown Sugar, do you remember how hip-hop used to make you feel when it was fresh and brand new?

    Unfortunately, hip-hop has taken a hit in recent years from critics to consumers, and has many like the legendary Queens lyricist Nas, claiming that hip-hop is dead.

    However, acclaimed writer Felicia Pride’s new book The Message: 100 Life Lessons From Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs has many of those same critics reevaluating the relevance of rap music, as Pride gives 100 life lessons from 100 classic songs.

    In the introduction of the book Pride writes, “This book is about searching for the power within and using motivational aspects of hip-hop music to help us successfully maneuver our worlds.”

        According to aalbc.com, “She uses short essays, aptly titled after a hip-hop song, and written in the language of the culture, to explore the themes of spirituality, success, business and love … The Message turns the negative perceptions of hip-hop completely around, offers a fresh perspective on why the culture is loved worldwide, and simultaneously provides motivational material from the hip-hop generation culled  from its own unique artistic expression.”

    So whether your favorite rap song is “Jesus Walks” from Kanye West or UGK’s new banger “Shattered Dreams,” true hip-hop artist continue to produce the classics that help fans get through the roller coaster ride of life.

    Kurtis Blow’s record “The Breaks” is one song that Pride has used to get through many obstacles.

    She writes, “The breaks in life are inevitable, but it’s how we handle them that dictates how we’ll survive them … As the song of life continues to spin, a break will eventually come when we can air our aggressions, release our creative juices, and prepare ourselves for the next challenge.  We must press on.  Until the break.”

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