2.11.2009

Hip-Hop, Jay Smooth & Inspiration

by Emily Norton
Special to iVoryTowerz

I'll be honest, like many stereotypical skinny white girls, I really don't know a whole lot about hip-hop. Hip-hop is a genre that was easy for me to write off, as the child of classical musicians. In moments of elitism, the word that came to mind was: trashy. That of course, was a huge misjudgment that I know I have not been alone in making. In reality, hip-hop stands for a world of poetry and cultural relevance that has existed since the 1970's but has since been masked by the Soulja Boys of pop radio.

Had it not been for Jay Smooth, founder of hip-hop vblog (video blog), Ill Doctrine, I would never have thought that hip-hop world had a place for me. (Jay Smooth is the air name for disc jockey John Randolph of WBAI-FM in New York, who also hosts Ill Doctrine.) Hip-hop is not just about cars, dimes, crack, or gangs; it's about living and reacting, destiny, and the responsibilities of humanity; it's about truth. Jay Smooth possesses the skill to wrap it all together. His voice is refreshing and balanced, and his endless flow of brilliance invigorated even my classically trained parents. Hip-hop is often representative of pop culture, but Smooth challenges pop values and the ever popular apathy that prevails in an overwhelming bulk of American life.

The unique thing about Ill Doctrine: it's clean (What?!). Additionally, the energy is positive, and the videos address more than just the music. Smooth proves hip-hop to be a platform for change and growth as well as political and personal analysis. To advertise his versatility, the site's clips have titles such as: "How to Tell People They Sound Racist;" "Why I'm Happy, Why I'm Not Satisfied;" and "Machine Guns and Stupid Choices," to name a few of my favorites. Without pushing the cliché button, Smooth is one of my heroes. A brain like his deserves recognition, and his far-reaching messages need to be heard.

(The photo of John "Jay Smooth" Randolph broadcasting at New York's WBAI-FM is from a photo Randolph has posted on various social networking websites and is in the public domain. To see Smooth's commentary, "Why I'm Happy, Why I'm Not Satisfied," please check below.)












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