Hip Hop is often criticized for promoting misogyny, materialism, and violence. However, the people who perceive Hip Hop in this way almost always are uninformed or don't understand the context. As Talib Kweli says, “Perception is deception. Without the facts you keep guessing.”
(Let Me See)
Talib Kweli answers these charges by saying, “Find you finding us no more misogynistic and violent than the society we are born in to.” (Peddlers of Doom)
He explains further, "Hip Hop doesn't exist in a vacuum, it comes from the culture and experiences out of the larger culture, and that's not something really getting talked about."
Kweli adds, “Silence is golden, but violence is platinum.” (Perfect Beat)
Putting the perceived glorification of material things in context, he states, “Back in the day they stole our smile, so we clothe our teeth in gold.” (The Manifesto) Kweli explains that black men wear bling because they were seen as invisible in American society.
He warns, “All material things lose their value in time. That’s why you’ll find I’m a millionaire of the mind. I pack a million thoughts in every rhyme.” (Millionaires)
Kweli isn't apologizing, he's contextualizing: "When you keep it so real that all you're doing is killing people, all you're doing is selling drugs, all you're doing is riding around on 24s, that's not reality anymore. It becomes a caricature of itself, it eats itself."
Hip Hop often times reflects American society. However, expressions of misogyny, materialism, and violence in art are criticized more than they are in reality. Misogyny sells. Materialism sells. Violence sells. Predominately white people are buying... and then criticizing.
To those disparaging Hip Hop:
Do you know enough to do so?
What are you really criticizing?
“Basically your take on me ain't making me or breaking me.”
(Get Back Pt. II)