Hey, Young World: The World Ain’t Yours

“Hey young world, the world is yours/” —Slick Rick, “Hey Young World,” The Great Adventures of Slick Rick.  “Do we sell our souls to the Devil/ For yellow pieces of metal/” —M.anifest, “Wahala,” Coming to America. You’re between the ages of 9 and 16, reading this. All your life, you’ve been told that the world […]

“Hey young world, the world is yours/”

—Slick Rick,

“Hey Young World,” The Great Adventures

of Slick Rick.

 “Do we sell

our souls to the Devil/

For yellow pieces of metal/”

M.anifest, “Wahala,” Coming to America.

You’re between the ages of 9 and 16,

reading this. All your life, you’ve been told that the world is yours to

conquer. Many have encouraged you to pursue your dreams and passions. If you

work hard enough, and dream far enough, the opportunities are limitless, they

said. All you have to do is set forth your feet on the path to success and

self-discovery. Well, I’m here to tell you that if major Record Label executives,

terrestrial Hip-Hop media, commercial Hip-Hop artists, and mainstream Hip-Hop

fans have any say, this world would never become yours.

Know that most music executives are no

better than the financial geniuses whose scandalous endeavors are reason for

today’s global economic meltdown. Know that they don’t mind poisoning your

intellect with any kind of music, destructive as it may be, so long as it’s

financially profitable. Know that they have at their disposal the fate of most

of your favorite artists, and they’re much willing to swing it in whichever

direction they so please. Know that their true intention is never to equip you

with musical contributions that might stimulate thoughts, but to throw their

weight behind any piece of sound that appeals to their conception of the


Know that if they decided, at once, to

promote productive, progressive, and prophetic music from their chambers, your

future might not end up dominated by auto-tune prostitutes—as it’s currently

positioned to. Know that if they spent more money on artist development,

diversity of style, and lyrical versatility, the world might truly be yours.

“Roll to every station, murder the DJ/

Roll to every station, murder the DJ/”

Understand that most of terrestrial

Hip-Hop media—radio stations, websites, blogs, TV stations—are essentially foot

soldiers of the Record Label executives. Understand that the on-air

personalities which you listen to on your favorite stations are not as powerful

as they might sound. Understand that these robots cannot resist the pressure to

play over and over again a select number of songs; for if they do, those who

construct the playlists would see to it that their job is given immediately to

someone who can perform more obediently and efficiently—the job of a radio DJ

nowadays seems to be easier than a telemarketer’s. Understand that payola—pay for play—is the new world order of

today’s Hip-Hop media—be it the cable entertainment channel designated for Black people, be it the

well-known Hip-Hop blogs, be it the popular Hip-Hop news sites, be it your

“Hot” and “Power” radio stations—thereby rendering farcical any such schemes as

“call-in-requests” or viewer-decided countdowns. 

Understand that their passion for

cowardice has endangered your future a great deal, ensuring that the only

artists permitted for radio play are those whose morals are found in the

gutters of Materialism, Misogyny and Minstrelsy.. Understand that if they,

overnight, grew up beyond their pubertal stage, and began demanding quality

music from the Record Labels, refusing to play songs which beat the same drums

of filth and immorality, dedicating their airwaves to socially responsible

tracks, the world might truly be yours.  

“I can’t rap—pass me the program/

I can’t sing—pass me the program/”

Be aware that many of the artists whom

you love so dearly are perhaps your deadliest enemies. Be aware that, in these

times, a backbone is as useful to a commercial Hip-Hop artist as a sunglass to

a blind man/woman—a prop. Be aware that if spinelessness was a life-ending

disease, most of your beloved artists would be deceased. Be aware that their

inability to speak candidly against injustice condoned in the music

industry—misogyny, racism, homophobia, materialism—is not so much acceptance of

it, but fear of what cost political courage demands. 

Be aware that many Hip-Hop artists have

little say over what kind of music they lace their vocals on, what image is

promoted to the public, what content is contained in their music. Be aware that

if they looked around and saw their strength—the strength of a supporting

public—and developed some intestinal fortitude, commanding the respect they

deserve from their bosses and putting first their dignity, not only would the

music you listen to not contain so many derogatory remarks about women, not

abuse your innocence at such young an age, and rather appeal to a greater sense

of who you are, but the world might truly become yours.

“Take my beloved Rap music, erase the beat/

Consumers act like they’re afraid of intelligent


Never forget that many mainstream

Hip-Hop fans are less honorable than a trained chimp. Never forget that these

flock of sheep are much willing to do the Record Labels’ bidding, that their

integrity is not worth more than the $10 cds they thoughtlessly spend their

paychecks on, that their self-worth has been purchased and sold by the same

executives who taunt them with free

concert tickets and backstage passes. Never forget that in their hands lies the

future of Hip-Hop music; in whichever direction they decide to take it, through

the power of their penny, it will go. Never forget that they know the extent to

which their culpability has noosed cheap imitation around the neck of Hip-Hop

artistry, cutting off all circulation of creativity from its head; but they’re unprepared,

anytime soon, to repent and turn from

their wicked ways.  

Never forget that in this company they hold the most shares, but

if they don’t start making enough noise now, letting the Record Labels, media

stations, and artists understand their frustration with the lackluster values

being promoted through modern-day Hip-Hop, these powerful shareholders would be

trading the future of a bright, upcoming generation for the ephemeral

opportunity to snap their fingers and shake their money-makers. Never forget

that they can, with one push of the button, reset the dangerous drive Hip-Hop

has taken this last decade, restore its moral compass, and return to the times

when the most fragile and vulnerable where at the core of the Hip-Hop ministry;

in doing this, the world might truly become yours.

Above all, always remember that the

world is yours, and nobody can ever take it away from you; but there are many

forces in this world trying to, and it is your duty to protect it by thinking

critically, opening the doors of your mind to the visitors of knowledge and

wisdom, and challenging authority at all critical stops on the journey to


“…It’s true that the world is still yours, but it’s


Ian Kamau, “Majority Report,” September Nine Mixtape Vol. 1.Tolu Olorunda is a cultural critic and a Columnist for BlackCommentator.com. He can be reached at Tolu.Olorunda@gmail.com.