“I am I Be” — De La Soul

Posted on January 11, 2012 by

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After watching the documentary in class today that discussed current mainstream hip-hop’s depiction of masculinity (power, violence, misogyny, etc.) I thought that it would be interesting to examine how hip-hop can also offer a differing ideology. I chose De La Soul’s song “I am I be” from their 1993 album, Buhloone Mindstate. It begins with a celebration of diversity, many voices firmly stating aspects of who they are. What I find most interesting is the first verse’s depiction of manhood and how it contrasts with the values seen in the film. In the first verse, Posdnuos portrays his masculinity in the way that he has taken on the responsibility to provide for his daughter and give her a healthy environment to grow up in. He takes pride in the fact that he has never taken advantage of a woman and that if he was not rapping, he would not be  a “thug selling drugs” but a “man with a plan.” Also–as Chuck D mentions in the film–he recognizes that the hip-hop artist’s true adversaries are not one’s contemporaries or other members of the black community but the powers above that control one’s life, like record executives. De La Soul promote respect, responsibility of one’s actions, awareness, and celebration of diversity–values rarely heard expressed in mainstream hip-hop today.

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