WTF is happening in hip-hop?
…Whispers, “Is this mic still on…?”
I mean, really and truly, we have lost our way.
Hey, it’s me, Tee Slaves, you know me as Tahyira Savanna, but today I am writing to you as a songwriter, performer, and lover of everything artistic. I make rap music. I started back in November 2019, but I’ve always been inclined to the genre.
I created and managed an artist-performing platform under my brand, The Red Eye Media Group, with two other chicks from college. We have gone our separate ways but today reminds me of those meetings we used to have. It was just about giving folks a platform to speak. Open Mic Night is what we called it at first, then a rebrand to Live Mondays since we mainly booked venues on Monday evenings for the ‘on-the-way-home from work, but I’m lit’ crowd in New York City and Los Angeles.
I remember my first show in L.A., I found this guy’s lil living room booking on Peerspace, and it fit the budget, so it went down. We invited a Brooklyn-based artist to the Hollywood show, so it really had me believe art can physically and spiritually move us.
I started my creative career behind the scenes. Now I’m in the scene. I perform at open mics, I get interviewed on podcasts, I spit on my Instagram reels….etc.
In March 2019, I fell into a depression and moved back to Brooklyn. That was the month Nipsey Hussle was killed in front of his Marathon store. I went to that store and recognized the vibes; it was for the hood, hood. Like if you know the hood, you know that hood feeling. L.A. opened me up more to my dream life, I saw people living out their ideas while collectively moving the culture forward.
I just recently opened some old iPhone notes that I wrote while hiking near La Brea; I wrote about how I can use the talent management funds to really tackle my dream of reconnecting incarcerated men and women back into society. This way, we would lower our recidivism rates. We then use those closed jails to open mental health institutions for all different types of intersectional groups.
I mean, when I dream, I dream HUGE. But it is supported by me seeing other masons take that same road. These rappers keep just getting murdered. For what? Because, as Black artists, we are still f*cking hood-bound, and what happens in the Black community rarely stays there.
There is this tangible low-mindedness to the hood that causes childhood homies to pull the trigger in the attempt to take that once upon a friend’s life. It is that real. It’s why white people dare not come where we live. They only know of our neighborhood’s location because we filled out their bum ass W-2 document, but that’s more for Tahyira to explain to yall.
The low-mindedness says that what someone else has, I want. It tells us to only strive for the lowest levels of our philosophy. The phrase haters gon hate has gone way above and beyond in the hip-hop community.
Is it fake fame? I just put out my most real vlog ever, well my second, the first being the one where I called my momma a narcissist and called out her childhood abuse on my artistic life. This last one is about me being shadow banned on Instagram and Meta. They deleted my original Facebook personal account when Donald Trump became the U.S. President. It had something to do with me being a BLM activist and Russia. That’s all I can say for now.
But the last vlog explains, with receipts, how Instagram’s white fragility-based algorithm hurts Black creator accounts by deeming them WOKE. No shade, but Tee Slaves has been woke before IG, but it hurts my reach in general. Not just me, but probably yours too. Other up-and-coming Black rappers are being hurt by spam bots to the point that some stop making music. A lot of them are dumb and no-shade, but this industry is wide-ranging. So when one platform stalls, find another, but AG James has called out Meta Inc for its monopoly-like behaviors as well, so the plot is thickening. We have to post up there as part of being active in the industry.
The fake fame I mention is the paid views we see other feeds engaging with, like Ice Spice, whose payola is so transparent it literally cracked what Ye said wide open. This is who The Washington Post, Pitchfork, and the New York Times thinks is the best type of rapper, OR do they not want you to hear real stories from real Black realities? It’s all fake, meaning people do not like it, but more so it is the only thing being served up on their feed in a tasteful manner.
So that toxic atmosphere creates a FOMO-type disposition. The fear of missing out is also the fear of NEVER FITTING IN, which I know festers hate. The jealousy is thick in the woods. I can feel it all around me. I cut off people who made me feel like I wanted to off them. It is that deep and serious. Envy, shadiness, and ugliness are contagious, so you have to force the positive stuff to the front.
Twitter’s a great place to publicly vent while minding your own damn business. Since this last 2019 depression, I also became a mental health advocate. I run a podcast about my take on black mental health issues from an outspoken Black American. It’s all facts, but it is not pretty. My podcast is free for you, the Black mind, the Black skin, we all we got, so we gonna have to have these convos in front of a white audience too. That’s how and why I can be retaliated against, right?
Think about it, if more people were woke, it wouldn’t be a thing, but yall ain’t, so it is. My last block was for me calling Candace Owens a coon under Chuck D’s post calling her out for whitewashing after her 17-year-old self needed the NAACP to keep her safe from these white boys. Meta and Facebook said it went against their community guidelines.
Guess what doesn’t go against their community guidelines, the music feeding the culture telling us to murder people. There is nothing fake about that.
It’s always a weird somberness on days like today, or when Biggie died, or when Pop Smoke died, or when XXXtencion died, or when my fave Migos Takeoff gets murdered during a dice game. The blue checks are all tweeting in caps, it’s like watching a bad movie; you already know whose about to say what to whom. We just watched Ye perform his greatest hits across white and Jewish-owned media. We filed it under our “trying to distract us from voting” box, but many are still asking, what is it that he said that was racist?
A lot of it was his version of their facts. And nowadays, like today, makes us listen to an artist like Ye, do something game-changing for the culture, as shown in the Donda documentary, “they got the dropout keepin’ kids in the school….”.
I wasn’t a Migos fan at first. I never thought they were for the culture until I listened to them, mainly Takeoff, in interviews explaining why they do what they do. His personality was straight-up down to earth, so I started using their music in my snaps. Takeoff’s music was for the streets. His latest collab focused mainly on his writings, and you can hear his takes taking off.
We watched the Migos’ real-time rise to fame from mixtapes to albums, from club performances to Grammy performances, and all this ended yesterday morning for why?
Because it’s hip-hop? Because we’re not helping anyone mentally? Because it’s so damn hard to stay woke? Gun violence in the Black community didn’t start with our community, we own no gun brands, but it ends in our hood. In someone’s grandmama’s garbage can.
I’m from Brownsville Brooklyn, the grimiest of the grimy, my first street fight was in the third grade when this fifth grader tried to tell me what was funny. My grandma showed up the next day. I fought my way out of Brooklyn and into a white ole richy, rich neighborhood where I got my Master’s at LIU Post, which was in criminal justice at that. So some of us know, know. This will never end without us.
I try to inspire the greatness we all have within despite the attacks on our skin color. I can’t do it alone. On a day like yesterday when everyone else is just sharing “OMGs” and “I CAN’T BELIEVES,” I am asking you to write about it, say something real about how it all makes you feel as a hip-hop fan living in a Black community.
This is Tee Slaves. Walk It Like I Talk It. Rest In Power to Takeoff, born Kirsnik Khari Ball.
I gotta get back to the studio now, so later.
About Tahyira Savanna:Â Tahyira is a lifestyle journalist and writer.Â Her interest includes human stories and introspection.Â She interviews everyday people doing their part to make our world a happier place.