Revisiting 2012: Versus Hip Hop on Trial Debate

Throwback to 2012’s Versus Hip Hop on Trial Debate:

“Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades it”

Jesse Jackson, KRS-One, Q-Tip, Estelle, ?uestlove, P. J. O’Rourke, Jaron Lanier, and 14 other rappers, poets, academics and pundits came together in London on 26 June to debate the motion, ‘Hip-Hop on Trial: Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades it’, chaired by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, and moderated online by Jemima Khan.

Presented by Intelligence Squared and Google+, it was the third in their new joint debate series, Versus. The first ever global debate on hip-hop saw fierce arguments put forward by speakers who were live on stage, and also beamed into the event via Google+ Hangouts, a live multi-person platform.

It’s a long show but check it out.

From the outset, it is clear that motion itself is flawed within the context of a debate.

It assumes that 1) Hip-Hop is a singular movement with singular methods, effects and objectives. 2) It assumes that all societies are a homogeneous constructs that can be evaluated as a whole.

However it does raise the question of what does it mean to “enhance society” and what does it mean to “degrade society”?

To degrade is to break down or deteriorate in part or in whole.

To enhance is to intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of something in part or in whole.

After consideration, It’s apparent that aspects of hip-hop culture have degraded aspects of society, just as it is necessary to highlight that aspects of hip-hop culture have enhanced aspects of society.

“Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades it”

The statement doesn’t allow for the fact that hip-hop can and does do both. i.e ┬áSince hip-hop does enhance society in specific circumstances, the statement that it doesn’t enhance society cannot hold. However, since hip-hop also occasionally “degrades” society, the statement is in part true but certainly not representative of all the information or the entire statement.

We can only conclude that the motion in whole cannot stand.

However, it is also clear that this conclusion alone, and the debate as a whole serves little purpose without further more specific inqueries into the effects of specific elements of hip-hop on specific elements of society.