Beware people who tell you something’s a bad influence because they rarely see the full spectrum of that influence.
I bought my first hip hop tape in 1986 at 11 years old. This was back when cassettes were a thing and when my young mind was what they like to call, “impressionable.”
I fell in love with the genre as quickly as the rest of the world became scared of it.
This was before hip hop went mainstream, and American culture — especially concerned parents and conservatives — spent years railing against the dangerous influence of the music.
They called it violent, degrading, and profane.
And in some cases it was.
But that’s not all it was.
It was also educational, entrepreneurial, and inspiring.
For every lyric about shooting people, there were dozens of lyrics about taking control of your own fate and not allowing anybody to limit your potential.
For every song about sex, there were dozens of songs about a history of people in this country whose stories weren’t being told in schools or represented on the news.
For every swear word uttered, there were dozens of examples of how to creatively bend language to express yourself in concise and powerful ways.
Decades later, it turns out many of the most successful people in our world were heavily influenced by hip hop growing up.
That’s not a coincidence.
Personally, I credit hip hop with helping me develop everything from my confidence, to my comfort taking risks, to my writing ability and understanding of marketing and branding.
People were right to think hip hop had the potential to influence young minds.
But they were dead wrong about what that influence would be.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear somebody rail against the impact of a “bad influence” on society.