The Google+/Intelligence Squared Versus series took on the subject of Hip Hop in its most recent debate which took place at the Barbican.
The event called Hip Hop on trial streamed live on Tuesday 26th and centred on the motion, ‘Hip Hop doesn’t enhance society, it degrades it.’
Although the list of speakers was varied and included some well-known artists from the genre, KRS-One, Estelle and Q-Tip the debate was seen by many, including those on the panel, as extremely flawed.
The host, BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, lacked knowledge on the topic and judging from her questions researchers did too.
Many of the panellists, mainly those against the motion that Hip Hop degrades society, exhibited dissatisfaction at the questions posed and the direction of the debate.
Slaughterhouse, the Hip Hop supergroup, featured in the debate via the Google+ Hangout until Joe Budden expressed his frustration with the structure of the debate and announced his and the groups’ departure.
Quest Love of The Roots also left the debate early.
Those in favour of the motion centred too heavily on three words used in Hip Hop, B****, N**** and Hoe and failed to accept that these words have multiple meanings, especially when used by artists.
The number of participants on the panel and those via web link meant that the debate was clumsy with too many voices trying to be heard.
A vote in favour or against the motion was carried out by studio audience members and online viewers. Despite the one sided nature of the debate the number of people who disagreed with the motion outweighed those in favour in both instances.
The almost out right denial of the existence of conscience Hip Hop and the apparent blaming of Hip Hop for society’s problems rendered the debate, as Dr James Peterson put it, ‘idiotic’.
Hip Hop should be recognised as what it is, an art form which comments on society but does not create it. The world’s ills were in existence long before Hip Hop’s birth and are one of the main reasons Hip Hop exists.
Did you watch the debate? What did you think?