What Is a Good Life?

What is a good life?

A good life is something that you feel as being a good life.

The problem is that you cannot feel your ideal picture of “good” if your connections to others are broken. You’ll experience the negative side of broken social bonds in various ways, which will increasingly interfere with the “good life” you imagine to yourself.

In order to experience a good life today, here’s what we need to understand:

Today’s world is crumbling as a higher, global and integral level of perception and awareness is pressuring us to upgrade our consciousness. Above our inborn way of viewing everything from an individualistic, egocentric point of view, we need to fill a new field that is becoming revealed to us: a revelation of our absolute interconnectedness and interdependence between ourselves and with nature.

As of now, February 11, 2019, we’re unprepared for such a revelation.

We can see effects of our increasing interdependence and interconnectedness in the way we connect more and more globally: in culture, technology, trade and commerce.

Internally, however, we experience our increasing global connection in its opposite form. We feel more and more internally detached from each other. Rising levels of depression, loneliness, stress and anxiety testify to our increasing internal feeling of detachment.

Since we’re not ready for the interdependence and interconnectedness unraveling under our feet, we feel it as darkness.

In order to feel the world’s tightening connections as goodness and perfection, we need to connect into a different, higher, globally-connected level of consciousness.

Our current level of consciousness is individualistic and egocentric. We perceive and sense the world through a lens of “What will I get out of it?” constantly placing self-benefit at the center of our calculations.

The higher level of consciousness (that we’re developing toward) is other-centric.

It’s where we primarily aim to benefit everyone else.

This is possible if everyone’s desires are aimed at a single point: to bring happiness to the collective whole we’re parts of.

Tools such as the media show us an example of how we can influence public opinion with certain values, defining what is good, bad, desirable and undesirable. If we would use these tools to positively influence public opinion with the idea that we need to unite above division, then we would proactively participate in our development toward the discovery of the higher/global/integral level of consciousness.

On the contrary, our failure to implement such an integrative form of education, which focuses primarily on media messeging, further fuels the decline we’re experiencing today.

That’s what I’m trying to explain in “Wastelands.” (Play “Wastelands” by pressing the “Play” button below.)

That’s the problem today.

In the news, you sometimes hear about the possibility of asteroids coming to hit our planet. That’s what we need to feel in relation to this higher/global/integral consciousness that’s pressuring us to reveal it.

To experience a good life, we need to redefine how we perceive happiness, confidence and success:

  • Happiness is when we’re happy not by being happy for ourselves, but by being happy if others are happy.
  • Confidence is not self-confidence in gaining a sense of power or pride over others, but confidence in that others are holding a common intention that everyone would experience a positive connection.
  • Success is not individual success on the account of others, but collective success to together rise above division, and view life from a united vantage point above differences.
  • Progress would be redefined through a different motion to our current progress: directed at thinking about the benefit of others above individual benefit.

This is the higher level of consciousness inviting us, by pressuring us, to upgrade our consciousness—from individual to collective, egocentric to other-centric, self-benefit to the benefit of others.

If we infuse public opinion with the idea that unity above division is what’s needed today, and that a unity is something great and desirable in the face of division—that through our efforts to unite above our division, we awaken a force of unity dwelling in nature, and start experiencing a heightened form of pleasure in reality—then the more that this idea becomes absorbed by more and more people, the more people will come closer to nature’s innate form of unity, and we’ll experience (much) higher levels of happiness, confidence, security and comfort.

Unity above division is the way to a good life.

Hip Hop Culture

If hip hop culture would reconnect itself to the essence of hip hop under today’s new global conditions, it’ll have a positive rippling effect throughout the world.

Wystelands – Wastelands

Hip hop, at its essence, is about being hip to your hop—aware of your movements.

Traditionally, this meant awareness of yourself, and all kinds of relations in your neighborhood, your locality, your region, your city, your state and your country. The music, the dancing, the art, the clothing, the culture of hip hop would amplify the personal and social worlds of its practitioners to the world at large.

Although hip hop’s culture and products are in constant flux, its essence—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—cannot change. However, in today’s world, which is very different to the world of the 70s, 80s and 90s that hip hop began in and developed through, it would be very beneficial for people and society to redefine this world that hip hop magnifies.

Today’s world is global.

Our technologies, environment, education, economy, culture, society and people have all become globally connected.

Our issues are also globally connected. In every developed country, we face a similar mix of issues on personal, social, economic and ecological scales: depression, stress, drug abuse, suicide, crime, terror, war, poverty, social anxiety, insecurity, unemployment, economic inequality, pollution, natural disasters, climate change… The more we upgrade our technologies and policies, the more these issues press on, constantly challenging us.

We live in uncertain times about where we are, who we are, where we’re headed, and what, if anything, can be done to have lasting positive impact on ours and our future generations’ lives.

Therefore, working with the essence of hip hop—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—it would be very beneficial for the mental and emotional health of society to expand this awareness globally: to our interdependent world.

Instead of only raising awareness of ourselves in relation to the neighborhoods, localities, regions, cities, states and countries we grew up in, we should consider our global society, environment and connection. We would all benefit from using hip hop as a vehicle to examine what it means to live in today’s world—to clarify and educate about our human nature, motivations, emotions and feelings as part of today’s changing conditions.

How should we deal with all kinds of people—at home, at school, at work, on the streets, with family and friends, on the Internet—and build a better situation: where we can feel good, comfortable, confident and happy?

With a globally-aware emphasis, hip hop can be used to answer why this tougher situation we’re in today places us at a crossroad: either we continue business-as-usual and head in the direction of intensifying problems, or we change to a positive course.

Either we continue trying to deal with increasing amounts of problems using all kinds of temporary band-aid solutions, and continue bearing witness to global deterioration. Or, we use today’s accumulation of difficulties as a means to revise the way we approach everything: to seek deeper causes behind our problems, and their solutions.

This is how I see the definition and role of hip hop today. It’s the same definition of hip hop that’s always existed at its essence, only that now instead of bridging divides on local scales, due to the global world we’re in, I see the need for hip hop to step in and bridge the divides across societies and nations.

The following are the 3 main points I see hip hop hitting today in order to inspire a new, positively-connected society to emerge from the increasingly divided society we find ourselves in today:

  • Causes of the world’s problems, personal, social, global, economic and ecological.
  • Conditions of a perfect world.
  • Solutions to the world’s problems: What’s needed to shift from crisis to harmony?

Originally, hip hop culture closely mirrored its essence. Its founding principles—peace, love, unity, having fun—would find their expression as rival gangs would come together by battling with breakdancing and emcee contests instead of with weapons and angst, and engaging in a positive atmosphere of music, art and culture.

Today, we’ve reached intensifying politically-based social division, the resurfacing of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and increasing anxiety about nuclear weapons and war. Together with that, hip hop products and culture are more active and popular than ever.

Therefore, there is room for hip hop to accept a new form and role: to fit its essential principles of peace, unity, love and having fun into the context of bridging the divides in today’s global society, between people, cultures, countries and ideologies worldwide.

Technologically, the Internet, the superfast speed by which messages can pass around the world today coupled with the freedom to communicate and promote whatever messages we want in a variety of formats, provides an infrastructure that this new form of hip hop can clothe into.

Also, a lot of hip hop cultural stereotypes have dissolved over the years. You can create and engage in hip hop no matter what race, color, gender and background you are, in any part of the world. Moreover, you can hybridize hip hop with literally any other style today. It has developed into a very flexible and open style where you can put down almost anything you want to a beat, and say whatever you want to it, and there is a whole range of stylistic and aesthetic options for you at your fingertips to choose from.

The only thing left that I see is to revise how we can instill hip hop’s core values into our messaging in a way that fits today’s world.

In other words, how can we infuse an atmosphere of “peace, love, unity, fun”  in today’s globally-connected world?

Also, why is it even important to generate this positive atmosphere? Why not be content with upholding materialistic values?

These are the issues I’m dealing with at the moment. I’m releasing my music on Genius.com and annotating my own lyrics, because I consider the educational value of these principles as more important than the artistic value of the music itself. This is also why I’m engaging in writing articles and other media, to try and penetrate these concepts into society with any means possible.

With each new article or other content, I’ll be releasing a song with annotated lyrics. Today, I’m re-releasing an old track I did called “Wastelands.” Listen to it here…

Join the Change


Hip Hop Education

HIP HOP EDUCATION:
MANIFESTO FOR AN UPGRADE IN HIP HOP CULTURE

Hip Hop education is about the need to revive the principles hip hop was founded on, in formats and media that fit today’s culture.

Hip hop emerged in New York City in the 1970s as a solution for rival gangs who engaged in drug wars and violence. Its founders, notably Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, drew up its principles “Peace, Love, Unity, Having Fun” as a slogan by which rival gangs could come together, and instead of violence, enjoy music, art, dance and the promotion of ideas we could mutually enjoy: a peaceful alternative to bridge differences between rivals.

In hip hop’s first two decades, some artists upheld its founding principles, promoting a culture of non-violence, unity, peace and love, while other artists went in the other direction: capitalizing on hip hop culture by appealing to base desires. The image of a respected status in society would show itself again and again to this day: expensive cars and thick gold chains as symbols of wealth, flaunting guns and women as symbols of power, and respect for individuals who could fight and compete their way up society’s ranks for wealth, respect and power. The more this development continued, the more the genre of hip hop would portray violence, drugs and sex as a means to capitalize on a mass market that gets easily triggered by these phenomena.

Gangster rap emerged in the late 1980s, seemingly with good intentions, i.e. it showed the world the wrongs that were happening in order to raise awareness of these wrongs. Back then, there was no Internet, no smartphones, no Twitter and Instagram, no constantly-running commentary of what was going on in the world. Gangster rap emerged as disruptive media to promote issues that mainstream media tried to keep under its covers, like police brutality, and its controversial buzz sliced through mainstream media.

Hip hop was gradually split into different sub-genres. The original purpose of hip hop became archived under names like “Conscious Hip Hop” and “Political Hip Hop,” phrases that continue losing interest to this day – see this Google Trends graph:

Hip hop’s unifying message became buried under a noise of hip hop proliferating as a cultural symbol for violence, drugs, sex and materialistic status.

Hip hop as a genre endured the era of the 2008 financial crash, the 2011 global protests, and the exponentially increasing gun violence, racism, drug abuse, suicides, terrorism and natural disasters, by doing what? Mostly, by promoting drug use, gun violence and the desire for respectable materialistic status that gives rise to the fears and problems in the world.

But 2019 represents an interesting turning point toward the revival of hip hop’s core values.

As tragedies increase, people become softer and more prepared to absorb unifying messages. Just as hip hop’s inception came when rival gangs had enough of the violence among themselves in a city setting, today in a national and international setting, there is a growing need to step up and inspire a culture of unity, peace and love, in a way that makes sense for today’s world. Unfortunately, one of the things that will help make sense of this need are more and more tragic events.

Nature acts on us in a way where if we fail to connect positively, then it sends us blows to wake us up to unite.

Recently, we’re seeing more and more popular, young, up-and-coming rappers dying. Lil Peep dying at 21 of a Xanax overdose in November 2017, XXXtentacion getting shot and killed at 20 in a robbery in May 2018, and Mac Miller’s sudden death at age 26 of a drug overdose, as well as many other rappers getting shot and killed in 2018 alone: A1 Lil Tony, Louis Robinson, Jr., Lil Lonnie, Brandon Denson (Billion Dollar BD), William Tesley III, Billy Ray Robles, Christopher Polk, Monte Wayne, Phanelli Deblasio, Smoke Dawg, Lil Buzz and Jimmy Wopo. In addition to the rapper deaths, the increasing amounts of mass shootings in public gathering places like schools, universities, churches, game tournaments and music festivals, keep prodding at us while we try to enjoy our lives. The problem is that if we keep trying to enjoy our lives by upholding competitive values of each individual’s materialistic status on the account of others, and keep approving of an entertainment industry that glorifies violence and drugs more than peace, unity and love, then we will keep experiencing more and more pains and crises.

video published in August 2018 by DMC (from Run DMC) highlights the battle for your mind underlying hip hop today:

“My fight isn’t with the dude that shot Jam Master Jay in the head. I have no personal beef with him. My fight is against the mentality that would cause him to do it.” – DMC, pointing out the problem with glorifying gun violence and drugs in today’s popular hip hop music.

Hip hop at its core is about fighting the mentality that causes violence, drug abuse and other negative effects in society. It aims to raise awareness in a fun, peaceful, unifying and loving cultural atmosphere of music, art and dance.

Hip hop—not “Conscious Hip Hop” or “Political Hip Hop”—but Hip Hop per se, in its foundation and essence, is about bridging divisions. It was born for that purpose. It’s just a matter of how much we’re aware of that fact, and how much we can awaken it and use it to society’s benefit.

Evolutionary biologists describe how nature evolves through a process of crisis, cooperation and then a new entity emerges based on a higher quality of unity. For example, there’s a story about how competitive ancient micro-bacteria first encountered crisis when they competed for scarce resources that were running out, then faced with a life-threatening situation, they cooperated in order to survive, and by doing so, they evolved into a new, more complex life form—the nucleated cell—and if this process wouldn’t have happened, then the micro-bacteria would’ve become extinct and we wouldn’t be alive today.

Therefore, by understanding that today’s world is interdependent, that our problems are globally interconnected, and that the threats from our division also show themselves clearly on a global scale—intensifying politically-based social division, the resurfacing of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and increasing anxiety about guns and violence in schools and other public places—we need to revive hip hop’s original intention—unity above division—to help us adapt positively to the world’s increasing connectedness.

That’s what my music project #CHANGE2019 is about. Below is the first single from this project. Press the play button to listen to it…

Join the Change

Peace,
Wystelands.

Music and lyrics by Wystelands.
Artwork by Germán Varona (a.k.a. Wallok).