“NY, LA, ATL” “East Coast, West Coast” “The Hood, The City, The Suburbs” all these parallels play a crucial role in an African American’s experience in this country. As we all know, NY is taking a beating in the world of Hip Hop and Athletics. When the Knicks took a thrashing this NBA season, you could feel the morale of the city decrease if you live here. Yes, the Brooklyn Nets made it to the playoffs, but it isn’t the same. The Knicks have Melo, an athlete AND icon that everyone in the city gravitates to.
New York City, the birthplace of Hip Hop has been left behind in the dust in the past couple of years. The style, swag and innovation that people once looked for in places like Harlem, Queens, and Brooklyn can now be found in places like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, and Toronto. Even Puff and Jay have been surpassed on the business side of things by Dr. Dre, a west coast artist and entrepreneur born and raised in Compton, California.
To add another layer of confusion, many black boys and girls grow up with an inferiority complex regarding the neighborhood they grew up in. They’re ashamed that the grew up in “The Hood” or “The Burbs”.
At 3:31 in the video above, Charlamagne Tha God made a statement that goes upon deaf ears for these young children. “What does it matter if you’re from the hood or not?”
“He been in the alley”
Unfortunately Charlamagne, the truth is, as backwards as it may be, perception wise it does matter for the young african american . Not just in Hip Hop, but in everyday life as well. For a sizable portion of Black America, being from a good neighborhood or “The Burbs” is shameful, lame, and corny. While on the flipside, being from the hood is considered a badge of honor. Growing up in the struggle automatically makes you tougher than the kid who grew up in a better neighborhood. That kid is a “chump” or a “Carlton”, he is softer or weaker than you.
This mentality is even replicated on the internet by people who aren’t even from the hood or African American for that matter.
“Drake didn’t start from the bottom, he’s soft” “Chief Keef is a real nigga, he raps about real shit #SQUAD“. Well, maybe if Johnny Appleseed from Topeka, Kansas perception of being black in America didn’t only derive from Rap music, cheesy comedies and other one dimensional representatives of black culture, one would know that being from the hood doesn’t automatically make you hard, just like rapping about gangsta shit doesn’t make you “real” or better than rappers who cover a different subject matter. (no offense Troy Ave #powder)
A lot of people seem to forget that the goal of being “in the hood” is to get OUT. Nowadays it seems like there is a reverse inferiority complex of some sorts for many people who live in the suburbs. They feel they aren’t “down” enough. For the record, there are soft people from the hood just like there are soft people anywhere else. Similarly, there are many tough people who live in the hood trying to escape from it for a better life in the suburbs. Here at BendXL, our staff are not only minorities, but people from all walks of life who share a love for black culture. To solely stereotype a person’s life,interests,past,make up and character simply off their current living situation is quite frankly a rudimentary way of thinking. We see the silly arguments all the time in the office, whose town is tougher, which town has the higher murder rates. Crime stats, percentages, charts, the whole nine. While they are usually done in passing and jest, it raises a bigger problem within our culture.
If you are not from the hotspots and live on the outskirts or unknown areas of the USA, maybe the desire to claim a place that you aren’t from is innate? Maybe if you aren’t from ATL,LA,NYC,MIA,London and the other big time cities of the world, maybe you feel inferior to those who do? If people want to be part of something bigger than themselves, can we really blame a person for claiming a cool city like Los Angeles or NYC even if they aren’t from these places?
The answer is YES, we can.
Time and time again, we’ve witnessed artists and athletes make their respective cities hot over the years, the same cities that people would claim are boring or lame or unknown. Nobody in the US cared about Toronto before Drake blew up. It was only when Drake claimed and repped his city to the fullest, that great things followed. The Weeknd blew up, PARTYNEXTDOOR is making rounds, and a healthy music and art scene is slowly starting to brew up. Even the Toronto Raptors had one of their bests chance at making it to the NBA finals in the past ten years. It seems like there is a new sense of pride and spirit brewing within the city of Toronto. Now the question is, in the African American community, was Toronto looked at as a cool place before OVO blew up? (NO). Do African Americans look at Toronto in a better light now? (YES)
People make the town, the town doesn’t make the person. There’s no real reason for a person to lie about being from a city or neighborhood that they aren’t from. It’s up to you to make your spot hot. You don’t need to lie about about being from the suburbs or the hood either. You don’t need a celebrity or athlete to validate or make you feel a certain way about your own home town. You don’t need to move out of your hometown in yours 20’s and completely abandon your childhood and craft a new identity in a new city. It’s up to you to make your town “cool”. It’s up to you and your generation to control the destiny of your hometown. Only you can control the future of your life, don’t let your environment dictate what type of person you are going to be. You dictate the future of your environment!!