The year is 1991, alarmed by the raising level of negativity in Hip Hop, activists and artists from across the country gathered for a major Hip Hop Summit. One by one speakers stepped to the podium and pledged themselves to fight in the war to "save Hip Hop." Never again would they allow corporations to destroy their culture. Never again!
The year is 2011, alarmed by the rising level of negativity in Hip Hop....
Every since NWA dropped "Straight Out of Compton" in the late 80's there has been a concern about the effect of corporate sponsored Hip Hop on the youth. Over the last 20 years , there have been thousands of conferences, lectures, books and CD's addressing the "problem." What is problematic is that after all of that we are no closer to finding the "solution" than we were two decades ago. Unfortunately, we rarely stop to ask ourselves why? Has there really been an effort to change Hip Hop or has it all been one big hustle to throw Hip Hop conference after- parties or sell books?
Dr. Amos Wilson, once said, "the most practical thing that you can have is a good theory to guide your behaviour." The one thing that is lacking in our efforts to analyze Hip Hop is a good theory.
In discussing the current condition of Hip Hop many in the "conscious" community, blame it on on COINTELPRO type "agents." Although this theory is over used and over simplified there are ,actually, three types of agents that would have an interest in Hip Hop.
While some argue that "government" agents are attacking Hip Hop, that theory would really only concern a small percentage of artists that are actively, negatively, affecting America's national and international interests. This immediately disqualifies Waka Flocka Flame and 99% of commercial rappers. In an effort to "prevent the rise of a black messiah" which was the goal of COINTELPRO, the Fed's would have more of an interest in maintaining the current direction of Hip Hop than changing it.
The second type of agent would be one sent by the entertainment corporations, as they would have an interest in making sure that their bottom lines are not messed with. So for them to send in operatives to disrupt any attempt to change Hip Hop is not only possible but probable. Perhaps that is why most of the "conscious" Hip Hop artist never name the names of those who really control the industry..
The third type of agent and the most destructive would be the agents of COINTEL-ego. These are the ones who show up at every meeting and disrupt it purely out of self interest.
The next theory as to why Hip Hop has not changed has to do with interlocking relationships and conflicts of interest among black leaders and Hip Hop activists. The music industry is like a three headed dragon, each head representing the video channels, the radio stations and the artists, themselves. Unfortunately, most of the leaders to whom we look to be on point against the coonery of commercial Hip Hop are influenced by at least one of the entities which, despite the feel good speeches, makes them impotent when it comes to launching an effective campaign against the industry. For instance, suppose one leader can't go against the music video channels because he is scheduled to be on this year's Hip Hop Award Show. The next leader can't go against the major radio conglomerates because he has a show on one of the networks. And the last leader can't speak out against Hip Hop artists because millionaire gangsta rapper "Dr. Death" makes a yearly contribution to his organization. So, on some level, everyone responsible for the degradation of black culture is given a "ghetto pass."
Another, barrier to changing Hip Hop lies within the propagation of myths that have been repeated since the late 80's but are rarely challenged. One of the most repeated is the myth of "balance" within Hip Hop, where the argument is that for every song that calls black women queens there must be one that calls them hoes. For every song that promotes healthy living there must be one that glorifies selling crack. And for every song that talks about saving the life of a black child there must be another song that promotes taking it. This is the nonsense that has been repeated for decades even though it goes against all scientific, philosophical and theological logic.
It is a scientific fact that two objects cannot exist in the same place at the same time. So, scientifically speaking, good and evil, truth and lie, right and wrong will be constantly fighting for the control of space. Also, for a "conscious" community that can quote "The Art o War" and "48 Laws of Power," word for word, the question becomes, what military strategist goes into war with compromise as the end game strategy? Some have even used the MAATic balance as justification for allowing negativity in Hip Hop despite the fact that Anthony Browder in his book "Nile Valley Contributions of Civilization" states that, according to the principals of MAAT, in the final judgement, one's deeds are weighed against the weight of a feather. This same school of thought is repeated in most spiritual expressions of Afro-Asiatic origin.
Perhaps the largest barrier against changing Hip Hop is Capitalism and its uncanny ability to absorb all opposition. As the saying goes absolute power corrupts absolutely. Capitalism can convince one that he can fight the power and be part of the power structure ,simultaneously. As Kwame Nkriumah wrote in his book "Consciencism," "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds is more than a past time to Capitalism, it is the hub of a complete strategy.
What is most troubling is the fact that, compared with the other problems facing African people,globally, the assault on black culture would be the easiest to fight.
In his essay "Rebellion or Revolution" Harold Cruse suggests that the "cultural front" is the weakest point in the armor of Capitalism. Cruse wrote, " the only observable way in which the Negro rebellion can become revolutionary in terms of American conditions is for the Negro movement to project the concept of cultural revolution in America."
Dr. Claude Anderson echoes this sentiment in his book, "Black Labor, White Wealth, where he writes "the wealth and power of the music industry offer the most compelling reasons for blacks to recapture control of this cultural resource."
So, the obvious question iafter all these years is, so, what's the problem?
Dr. Frances Cress Welsing answers that in her book, the Isis Papers. The reason is fear and self doubt.
Despite all of the revolutionary talk, many black folks are still mentally enslaved. As Dr. Cress Welsing wrote, "If we do not have confidence in our ability to make independent black analyses and Black plans for Black action, why should we talk about or seek Black liberation?"
In 2011, we can no longer sit back passively while our culture goes to hell in a hand basket. The time for complaining without action is over.
Either we are going to revolutionize Hip Hop and make it responsive to the needs of the people or we should all grab a 40 and a blunt, throw on a Gucci Mane CD and have a happy.
The choice is ours.
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Article courtesy of The Militant Mind Militia http://www.militantmindmilitia.com