As part of Mastercard House’s “Start Something Priceless” campaign they teamed up with The Fader magazine to host a panel discussion January 25th hosted by Ebro Darden on the hip-hop diaspora featuring panelist who are connected to hip-hop in different areas which included Fader co-founder Rob Stone, designer Jeff Staple, photographer Jonathan Mannion and rap artist Young M.A.
In reflecting on becoming connected with hip-hop, Stone said, “I think for me I felt like I was in on a secret. I felt like this hip-hop thing I don’t know if it was meant for me. I had moved to Long Island at that point and I would catch Ralph McDaniels show Video Music Box. I remember standing next to my basketball team and saying have you heard the song “Roxanne,” and I was like ‘Yeah my sister plays Sting’. And he was like no “Roxanne” and he played me that record and just opened me up to hip-hop and from early I couldn’t get enough of it. At the time it wasn’t all over the place, if you wanted to hear hip-hop in New York it was Friday, Saturday night shows on the major New York stations or you had to find your college radio station that was playing at 1-3 in the morning. There was such a confidence in it that I knew I wanted to spend my life in hip-hop but you kind of knew if you were on the ground floor and you saw the talent and the effect of how much it means to people you knew it would grow to this level. And it was all naysayers who said it was just a fad it would go away and thirty almost forty years later it’s here and stronger than ever.”
When asked the same question M.A replied, “I grew up in the early 2000’s that was my era, I was born in 92. Can’t really say too much about the 90’s now yea I learned a lot just by looking back on everything. I was in the era of Jay Z, Dipset, G-Unit, Talib Kweli. I ain’t gonna lie 2000 was a good year for hip-hop that’s when I think it really broke through as far as us getting real mainstream with it. I was a big fan I loved it. 50 Cent is one of my favorite rappers of all time, when he came about it was like something different to me. I just loved it. I just thought I was gonna be the best of all time when I first wrote my first rap. I was like this is it, I believe in this, I love this I want this. It was like my first love and I didn’t want nothing else.”
During the Q and A with the audience after the panel discussion a question was asked do hip-hop artists need to address social issues in their music to which Darden expressed his personal opinion stating, “I don’t feel like anyone creating any type of art has an obligation to do anything other than create the art they want to create. I will say in hip-hop as an MC, hip-hop being from the community and the street and being a part of the struggle specifically the black nationalist struggle, there’s an unspoken obligation because hip-hop has always been an extension of that in its essence of bringing the community together and empowering voices that were not heard being and being paid attention to. So I feel like that’s about of the fabric of hip-hop, but at the same time would never require an artist to rap about something they are not knowledgeable or passionate about.”