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SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER: HIP-HOP ACTIVISM!

In ART, CULTURE, DIASPORA TALK, HOT BUTTON TOPIC, LIFESTYLE, MEDIA, MUSIC on August 8, 2008 at UTC.56.31.

Hip-Hop started out in the park/now everybody trying to spark/music is suppose to inspire/so how come we ain’t gettin no higher?” Lauryn Hill wrote those poignant lyrics almost 10 years ago and they are just as timely today as they were then. Perhaps, moreso! The power of Hip-Hop is its ability to “speak truth to power!”

Lauryn speaks as a hip-Hop purist challenging the status-quo of the then “over glamorization” of the material aspect of hip-hop. Do you remember when every other lyric was the name of a purse, tie, or outfit or just the redundant name-calling of some foreign designer? She along with others w/in the genre wanted to see more diversity in lyrical content, as well as, a collective effort to raise the awareness & consciousness of the art form as a whole!

I came up in the Afro-centric movement w/in Hip-Hop. So, my point-of-view is 180 degrees to the right of what the media portrays. Artists like Public Enemy, Poor righteous Teachers, Brand Nubians, KRS-ONE, NAS, & Eric B & Rakim were just a few of the “conscious” groups & acts that pushed the envelope with subject matter that affected CHANGE! Issues, such as, Apartheid, Conflict Diamonds, Black Power Movement, Cultural & Spiritual amnesia, Single parenthood, teenage pregnancy, Absentee fathers, and African American history have all been addressed through Hip-Hop music.

 Moreover, they provided a whole generation with the unknown untaught & unregarded facts of African American heritage, & African history.

“Hip hop was created in the poorest congressional district in America, the south Bronx, where I was born and grew up. These were young people who had nothing and have created not only a multi-billion dollar industry but have created an international way that we can all speak to each other. I think the fact that we have that and that hip hop can be found in Palestine, in Ghana, in Venezuela, in Cuba, in Brooklyn and American Indian reservations, speaks to the power of it. It also makes me understand why we are always being attacked and why they are always attacking the hip-hop community,”

Today, artists Dead Prez, Jean Grey, Taalib Kweli, Mos Def, The Roots, Common, OutKast, & Goodie Mob carry the torch of the “pedagogy of the oppressed” by giving voice to those whose voices have been muted by racial discrimination.

In the song “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy, Chuck D says; “We got to pump the stuff/to make us tough!!!” That’s exactly what the legacy of Hip-Hop is. Protest! Elevation! Inspiration! Artist Rakim, in protest to the Gulf War spits; “A desert storm let’s see/ who reigns supreme/Something like monopoly/a government scheme/Go to the Army, be all you can be/Another dead soldier? Hell no, not me!”

Conscious Artists

Conscious Artists

Still, its not widely known or even given coverage on the corporate owned cable media networks. Those entities would much rather report sensationalism & propaganda touting the genres violence, misogyny, materialism & sexually explicit lyrics as if there wasn’t balance or another side to the coin. For that reason alone, its imperative for others to “co-sign” the positive aspects of the many artists that embark on elevating the culture.

On July 24, rapper Nas joined the grassroots organization ColorOfChange.org to present over 600,000 signatures demanding that Fox News end their biased pattern of racist attacks against “Black Americans and the Obama family.” According to Nas; “Fox (news) poisons the country everytime they air racist propaganda and try to call it news” he said as he endorsed {politicalswagger.com} a new alternative website for political news aimed at the hip hop generation.

“The leader of the Wu-Tang Clan, The RZA launched WuChess.com, described as “the world’s first online chess and urban social network.”

WuChess.com was inspired by the hip-Hop Chess Federation, a non-profit group using music, martial arts and chess to keep peace in the streets. The group has hosted fundraisers where underprivileged youth play chess and receive mentoring. A portion of the funds generated by WuChess.com go to the HHCF for educational scholarships.”

Now, that’s the kind of social activism that we never hear about from the mainstream media regarding positive press about a rapper. Its as if they want to intentionally distort the perceptions of Hip-Hop. Do these actions by these artists change your perception of Hip-Hop? If so, in what way? In your opinion, why do you think the media snuffs stories like these? Hip-Hop isn’t monolithic & can’t be defined by generalizations, rather it is a plethora of diversity that imbues the richness of the African/African-American experience.

“Harlem rapper Immortal Technique’s searing political commentary flows through his music. His albums cover topics ranging from the plight of migrant field workers, to religious hypocrisy to political corruption. What you may not know is that his lyrical intensity is matched by his deep commitment to causes that he is involved in. In 2006 he was the headliner for “Lyrics for Liberty II,” a benefit concert to raise money for an organization providing service to children in Palestine and he is well known for his outspoken activism and participation in benefit concerts to bring attention to the plight of political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal.”

After the release of his third album entitled “Third World,” Immortal Technique is now headed East-the Middle East—to Afghanistan—in his desire to fortify social services for those most in need.

“I joined with a human rights organization to open up an orphanage in Afghanistan,” said the Peruvian rapper. “That’s something that I’ve been pushing very hard, and we’ve gotten a lot of donations for that. I pledge to go out to Afghanistan, probably at the end of this year, and oversee the final stages of construction myself.”

Immortal Technique said the project originated from his “Project Green Light,” in which he dedicates time out of his schedule each year to work with an organization on a special project.

In the words of the late Biggie Smalls; “Stereotypes of a Black male misunderstood/But its still all good…” This is the mantra of today’s cultural historian, warrior-poet, rhyming-revolutionary & BNN (black news network) documentarian of the life, struggles & passion of  the black experience!

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  1. yo this is my site visit http://www.mikeyx.com about hiphop music in thailand.

  2. This is a very important post; powerful stuff that some folk want to ignore. Keep up the good work.

  3. Give thanx! That’s why I write wrongs by blogging tomes, songs and words of power!!

  4. […] surrounding Ludacris’s song “Politics” brought widespread attention to hip hop, the community activism and political progressivism of hip hop tends to go unreported; in fact, it is […]

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