Lynne d Johnson



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04.03.03 10:42 PM

jay-z flows anti war, and other hip-hop movements

A search of Google News, reveals that Jay-Z has jumped on the anti-war bandwagon. We'll he already signed his name on the Musicians United to Win Without War list, but now he's spitting lyrics too. In short, the platinum rapper laid down an anti-war message on the already popular bhangra-infused Punjabi MC's "Beware of the Boys - Mundian To Bach Ke," which samples—get this—the theme tune from Knight Rider. Can we say Hova knows how to crossover. First "Hard Knock Life," and now this. A sampling of Jigga's verse as reported by "We rebellious, we back home/ Screamin' 'Leave Iraq alone,' " Young Hova rhymes over a sample of the theme from the "Knight Rider" TV show. "For all my soldiers in the field/ I will wish you safe return/ But only love kills war/ When will they learn?" Now who said hip hop (music) didn't step up to the plate? While this remix is already receiving heavy US radio rotation, the single will hit shelves April 15, and that's a week after Blueprint 2.1 drops. I'm still looking for the MP3.

Now this brings me to my last comment regarding this whole discussion "we" continue to have about how hip-hop fails our youth. Folks need to learn to discern between hip-hop culture and the hip-hop industry. Speaking of which, Kevin Powell's activist organization Hiphop Speaks is hosting a Townhall Meeting on the State of Hiphop Music and Culture on Saturday June 7 in NYC in celebration of Black History Month. Panelists have not been announced yet, but topics include Hiphop Culture vs. the Hiphop Industry, Anti-rap police task forces and FBI surveillance of the hiphop community, Historical amnesia: why we do not know hiphop/American/world history?, How Bush, the war, and the war on terrorism affect the hiphop community/America, The class divide in hiphop: thugs vs. backpackers, commercial vs. underground, The self-hatred of a generation (where did it come from?), among others.

Now you have Hiphop speaks and Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, and the Urban Think Tank, and there is also Davey D, and we've always had Chuck D. Who knows what else exits out there. I do know for sure that students on college campuses across the country are organizing and making politcal moves and doing consciousness raising under the banner of hip-hop. Moreover, it appears that as more and more hip-hop heads reach their late 20s, enter their 30s and 40s, and start raising families they begin to look at other ways of bringing both the music and the culture to the next level. I said it once and I'll say it again, and as my boy Hashim Shomari once said in his book From the underground : hip hop culture as an agent of social change: "One way to understand hip-hop culture as distinct from its commercialized aspects is to think of it as a variation of the African talking drum, a means of communication for African American youth. ... The communicative role hip-hop has played, and will continue to play, in the African American struggle can not be over stated. By acting as an alternative source of information, hip-hop can teach the masses of Black youth about the need to democratize mass media. ... At present, the entertainment establishment is feverishly trying to separate rap music from its hip-hop cultural context. ... The potential for hip-hop culture to raise consciousness depends on whether or not the entertainment industry totally commercializes rap music as a whole—thereby permanently separating the music from the culture that spawned it—or whether hip-hop culture can politically and economically defend itself."
Addendum: Since I have only partially read through most of them, I can not fully comment, but these recently released books say a lot about all that has been said here recently. Check 'em out if you have the time. If I ever do finish them all, trust that their will be an essay forthcoming. The air is changing dramatically in America as we can see with the recent war in Iraq and the legal twist in Affirmative Action. Sheesh, f*** Amerikkka, let's look at the world. Gender. Race. AIDS. Economics. Politrix. Corporate Prisons. Etc. The issues man...u know the isms and the issues. We see 'em everyday. I don't know how things will play out over the next couple of years kids, but we need to arm ourselves with some education. And yeah, a little meditation wouldn't hurt, if we send off enough positive vibrations...who knows.

Current Reading List
The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop by Todd Boyd
The 'Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop by Murray Forman
Mulatto America: At the Crossroads of Black and White Culture: A Social History by Stephen Talty
Everything But The Burden: What White People are Taking from Black Culture edited by Greg Tate
American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business & The End of White America by Leon E. Wynter

And to see the original discussion that sparked this hip-hop debate go here.

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