First, I want to thank Boom for his review on Underground Hip Hop Blog describing #RIP2018 as an “ear bleeding, nail-biting, chalkboard clawing failure.” It was a failure just like the way we feel heading into 2019.
Most years we feel optimism heading into the new year. This year, many don’t. The rates of mass shootings, murders, poverty, domestic violence, drug overdoses, and the rising amount of suicide, anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression, if we don’t find that these phenomena are on the rise, then they are definitely felt in the atmosphere.
Also, in relation to all the rapper deaths last year, the number is less significant than the feeling of how Lil Peep and Mac Miller overdosed and how XXXtentacion got shot and killed—a feeling that rippled into their music’s listeners 100s of millions of times throughout the year. It’s like the scent of death was always present in our day-to-day lives, and some succeeded to cover this feeling more than others.
Many people feel that we’re entering 2019 upon this gray, pessimistic background.
The major problem is our divided society: individuals separated from each other by a force (our self-centered human nature) that repels us from each other. This is the root problem that stands behind all the alienation, conflict, exploitation, manipulation and abuse.
The only way I see an optimistic outlook on 2019 is if there will be an effort to connect above the social division, to rise above our divisive instincts and develop a higher, integral level of consciousness. We can do this if we regularly receive inputs from our culture, media and education systems, which promote the idea of unity above division:
- How can we unite above division?
- Why do we need to unite above division?
- What divides us?
- How can it be that, on one hand, we connect more and more around the world, technologically, culturally and economically, but on the other hand, we feel increasingly alien to each other: separated, distanced, lonely, empty, anxious, stressed, depressed, etc.?
The more there will be a supportive and constructive conversation that genuinely tries to find answers to these questions, the more we will attract a better connected, more peaceful and happier reality.
That’s what Wystelands aims to be: one influence as part of a growing network of influences that will educate about and promote the need to unite above division, for the sake of building a more peaceful, loving, united and happy society.
Anyone feeling this is welcome to sign up for my #CHANGE2019 interactive album experience: 52 tracks over 52 weeks of 2019 + weekly music and liner note packages. They’ll all discuss these concepts throughout the year.
Sign up for the interactive album experience here » http://www.wystelands.com
UGHHB: With this being an underground hip hop site, we always ask this important question. What is your definition of “underground hip hop”?
Wystelands: Hip hop, in its essence, is about being hip to your hop—aware of your movements. That’s a line by KRS-One that I completely agree with.
Traditionally, this meant awareness of yourself and all kinds of relations in your neighborhood, locality, city, state and country. The music, dancing, art, clothing and culture of hip hop would amplify the personal and social worlds of its practitioners.
Although hip hop’s culture and products are in constant flux, its essence—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—can’t change. However, in today’s world, which is very different to the world of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when hip hop emerged and evolved, it would benefit us all to redefine the world that hip hop magnifies.
Today’s world is global. Our technologies, environment, education, economy, culture, society and people have all become globally connected.
Our problems are also globally connected. In every developed country, we face a similar mix of problems on personal, social, economic and ecological scales: depression, stress, drug abuse, suicide, crime, terror, war, poverty, social anxiety, insecurity, unemployment, economic inequality, pollution, natural disasters… The more we upgrade our technologies and policies, the more these problems press on, constantly challenging us.
We live in uncertain times about where we are, who we are, where we’re headed, and what, if anything, can be done to have lasting positive impact on ours and our future generations’ lives. Therefore, it would benefit the mental and emotional health of society to expand hip hop awareness—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—globally, to our interdependent world.
In other words, instead of only raising awareness about ourselves in relation to the neighborhoods, localities, cities, states and countries we grew up in, we should consider our global society, environment and connection. We would all benefit from using hip hop as a vehicle to examine what it means to live in today’s globally interdependent world—to discover more about our human nature, motivations, thoughts and feelings as part of today’s changing conditions.
How should we deal with all kinds of people—at home, at school, at work, on the streets, with family and friends, on the Internet—in order to build a better situation, to feel good, comfortable, confident and happy?
With a globally-aware emphasis, hip hop can be used to answer why this tougher situation we’re in today places us at a crossroad: either we continue business-as-usual and head in the direction of intensifying problems, or we change to a positive course.
That’s how I see hip hop’s definition and the best use of hip hop heading into 2019.
Originally, hip hop culture closely mirrored its essence. Its founding principles—”Peace, Love, Unity, Having Fun”—would find their expression as rival gangs would come together by battling with breakdancing and emcee contests instead of with weapons and angst, and engaging in a positive atmosphere of music, art and culture.
Today, we’ve reached a global intensification of politically-based social division, the resurfacing of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and increasing anxiety about nuclear weapons and war. Also today, what’s currently defined as a genre of “hip hop” is more popular than ever. Therefore, there is room for hip hop culture to take on a new form and role: to fit its essential principles of peace, unity, love and having fun into the context of bridging the divides in today’s global society, between people, cultures, countries and ideologies worldwide.
Technologically, the Internet—the superfast speed by which messages can pass around the world coupled with the freedom to communicate and promote whatever messages we want in a variety of formats—provides an infrastructure that this new form of hip hop culture can dress into.
Also, hip hop cultural stereotypes have dissolved over the years. You can create and engage in hip hop no matter what is your race, color, gender and background, in any part of the world.
What is left is to revise how we can instill hip hop’s core values into our messaging in a way that fits today’s world.
In other words, how can we infuse an atmosphere of “peace, love, unity, fun” in today’s globally-connected world?
As I mentioned before, my output aims to be one influence as part of a growing network of influences that will engage in this conversation, and so I invite anyone who’s interested to join in this journey throughout 2019…
Sign up for the #CHANGE2019 interactive album experience here » wystelands.com
Also, check out track 1 of the 52-track album, “Otherworldly Acts,” released on January 1, 2019, here…