Hiphop on Trial: HipHop doesn’t enhance society, it degrades it
On Tuesday 26th June 2012, Hiphop was put on trial. The charge? That it degrades society rather than enhances it. An Intelligence Squared debate on rap, involving everyone from Jesse Jackson and Q-Tip to PJ O’Rourke and Emily Maitlis, was more baffling than anything else.
1,600 or so people descended on the Barbican in London for what was hailed as “the first-ever global debate on hip-hop”. Arranged by Google and Intelligence Squared – bespoke organisers of online conferences who recently staged something similar on the War on Drugs – it was like a cross between Question Time and a show trial, with advocates and speakers for and against the motion: “Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades It.”
There was even a live online vote, with statistics presented on giant screens and references to “swings” like a hip-hop version of Peter Snow on election night. To add to the gravitas of it all, we had BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis chairing the debate, and speakers ranging from the Jesse Jackson and Shaun Bailey – a special adviser to David Cameron on youth, crime and welfare issues – to rapper KRS-One and poet Benjamin Zephaniah, as well as a host of academics. There were even satellite link-ups with, among others, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest and satirist PJ O’Rourke. Mystifyingly, Jemima Khan was our web-host.
Check out the full debate below and let us know what you think