Church and Society / Pop Culture / Random Thoughts from an Uppity Negro

So…what generation am I?

In this day and age where black megachurches are having “hip-hop” services and churches are reaching out to the “hip-hop” generation and I hear talk about trying to reach the “hip-hop” generation, I get really confused.  I get confused because this particular uppity Negro isn’t a big music listener (go figure as I’m a musician) and many of the pastors and other preachers use the hip-hop genre of music as a primary medium with which to convey their message.  Secondly, I get further confused when I see these 90’s babies getting lumped into the “hip-hop generation.”

The problem I see with those who were born 1987 and later as being lumped into the hip-hop generation is that primarily gangsta rap was the predominant form of hip-hop that was on the scene by the time they got into kindergarten classes in 1992 and forward.  Personally, from the small snatches of music that I heard on the radio as a kid, I was listening to the boy and girl bands such as EnVogue and Boyz II Men more in the genre of R&B, and I’d be hard pressed to begin naming straight up hip-hop artists from the early 90’s.  So I question is this really the hip-hop generation or really the bastard child of hip-hop, known as Rap.

Now in the stores, Hip-hop and Rap are usually only divided by a slash and many consider them the same, but I’m sure true music enthusiasts would acknowledge that there is a difference between Common and 50 Cent.  Both reach an audience that is my age, but still both have vastly different messages in their music, and the style of delivery is different and moreover, their music is birthed out of different lived experiences.  So as the churches and other black community leaders talk about the “Hip-hop generation” are they really talking about these 90’s babies or are they talking about those who were born in the 1970’s and grew up in the 80’s, who were immersed not just into a new music genre but into a new culture and a new way of life?

Be that as it may, what generation am I?

I was born in 1984 and the proud kindergarten class of 1990, meaning that I fully grew up in the 1990’s, meaning I’m an 80’s baby, but a 90’s kid.  Some people ask me what generation am I, and I have to take a deep breath and tell some convoluted story that I’m too young to be Generation X and that I’m not a Millenium Kid (I almost punched someone that asked that!  I mean I’m 23 years old!).  I just simply tell people that I am a 90’s kid; that I’m fully a product of the 90’s.  A product of the 90’s means that I remember MC Hammer and what it meant to Hammertime just as equally as I remember the Macarena and that our school didn’t want the kids to wear black and red or black and blue because of gangs.  As a product of the 90’s I remember Y2K and just how scared we all really were and all the bottled water and canned food products we went through.  I also remember what it meant to get your ear pierced, right was wrong and left was right.

But, usually I just say I’m in between generations.  And its a doubly awkward spot because I don’t listen to that much music, so much of what the pastors and other community leaders offer is heavily lost on me, and then this move to cater to the Hip-hop generation seems to be targeted to the 18 and younger people and I just missed this en masse wave of church ad community programs that began to tailor their messages to the young people.

I know it may sound like I’m hatin’ on those who are doing this, but I guess on some level I kinda am.  I mean, has it taken fully grown adults to fully get the idea that all of this stuff is kind of late in coming to the forefront?  I mean it is no longer just a Youth Day on 5th Sundays with one little boy who was very good at mimicking the old pastor and spewing back the same fire and brimstone sermons to the congregation (who may have pushed individuals into ministry simply because they had good oratorical skills).  Whatever the case may be, why has it taken so long and then why are there some older people who still feel that the traditional way will still work?  I’m not sure what the disconnect is, because sometimes I feel a disconnect (but that could be simply because of my own personal hang ups) but I’m quite sure that for some people, this whole idea of the Hip-hop generation may still need some tweaking until it can find its authentic self.

Keep it uppity, JLL

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3 thoughts on “So…what generation am I?

  1. JLL, I also have no idea what generation I’m supposed to be in (and I actually think the generational signifier is silly unless some seminal moment happened around the time you grew up that almost everyone experience a la the Baby Boomers). I feel like most signifiers outside of possibly Generation X, don’t make a lick of sense.

    I’m “technically” a Gen-Xer, but not really. I wasn’t even in high school when the term was coined at it originally affect those early 90s when the country was in a recession and you had a lot of unemployed 18 to 30-somethings who taking more and more college courses or were still living at home with their parents. I mean, Bill Gates is considered Gen-X and there’s a huge gap in our ages.

    That said, about the church folk reaching out to the “hip hop generation,” that is just laughable. I get that they want to appeal to the young folks but this does smack of a day late and a dollar short.

    Also I don’t know how well it will work considering children and teens are very good at detecting BS. Youth is all about being cool. Hanging out in your church basement with a novice Christian Rapper named MC Saved is not cool. Personally, I think churches would be better off finding things fun for kids to do and then sprinkling in some Jesus, like having lock-ins at roller skating rinks, junior hosting basketball tournaments, carnivals, dances and non-nasty dance competitions. Talent competitions. Dance Dance Revolution game nights. Create a fun, safe place after school for them to hang out and do homework (which would be GREAT for latchkey kids).

    It’s a fact that there is very little out there for kids to do where they can get together, be safe and have fun. (Everyone HATES kids!) In St. Louis they’ve officially kicked them out of all the malls and I hate to break it to the parents but if there is no safe, public place for your kids to mingle they will go over to their friends house, get high off of whatever prescription drugs are there, binge drink alcohol then have gross unprotected sex. Because when I lived in Cali the “Pill Party Turned Orgy” thing was pretty popular with the kids.

  2. The person below does not know what he is writing about. Stop generalizing, you just listen to what stands out, not all 90’s kids do that stuff. For one, I am not. So watch what you type, you will get many angry.

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