What It Means to be in ASAP’S Country
The stories of living in America, as told by Black folks, often expresses discontent with its living conditions, but we love America just as much as we feel that it does us wrong. Hip-Hop keeps alive this Black narrative of cultural-nationalism or locale-nationalism, of love for and pride in American land ties. Every Hip-Hop artist, especially Black ones, has a debut appearance that is inseparable from allusions to their original slum. For his latest single “Peso”, new artist ASAP Rocky assures that no audience member would be confused as to where he came from. Harlem pleases him aesthetically unlike any other borough, Harlem symbolizes ASAP’s comfort zone, and it is the institution that informs his lifestyle. The Black, the American of African descent, has a country that anchors the Black’s identity.
After watching The Black Power Mixtape, I wondered why Black folks sacrificed so much of our population in American revolutions. Abiodun Oyewole described the complexity real smoothy and poetically in the film: (paraphrasing) our valor toward Africa is romantic, but we know nothing about Africa; many Blacks would die for America because we made America. Thinking about ASAP, who I’m sure has suffered from American capitalism and racism, it amazes me that he has found home in Harlem. He certainly emerges in the culture of Hip-Hop, which emphasizes the relationship of home and creativity. When approaching a mic or a subway the artist represents the experience of their hood. In other words, it’s Harlem that gave ASAP something to talk about and a flow to package it in: “our presence is a present/just to kick it is a blessing” (Peso, 00:45).
Not only does Hip-Hop allow the Black subject to contribute to a larger American heritage of music, but it attaches an individual to local origin. Home is merely the effect of being committed to documenting the history of one’s existence. Pertaining to diaspora people, folks alienated from their native land, the question of who a Black person is must start with location. Therefore, Hip-Hop reflects the desire of diasporic peoples to know themselves and simultaneously establish their identity.