Monday, September 06, 2004

I like Dead Prez, but wait a minute

We all know by now that hip hop is not what it used to be. It has been so commercialized that I put a lot of these rappers in the same category as Britney Spears or Christina Aguilara. I remember a time when hip hop was a voice of a community, not only teaching the uninformed, but also showing people the various aspects of ghetto life. From B.D.P and KRS One, to Poor Righteous Teachers, Paris, Public Enemy, The Coup, these groups addressed important issues facing the black community and served as a balance to all the "party" rappers.

But that time has come and gone, with predominately 95% of the hip hop acts now either glorifying gang life, speaking about their jewelry ad naseum, or how many women they can sleep with in a 24 hour period. There are, just a few, alternatives. BlackStarr, The Roots, Common, and Dead Prez come to mind.

When I first encountered Dead Prez it was through their first single, "hip hop". It was good to see someone carry on the revolutionary torch that was passed by Chuck D and KRS 1. They had various topics from black love, to economics, fight back against injustice, etc..I wasn't the biggest fan, but I was in total support of everything that they were about.Until now..

I was watching Def Poetry Jam Sunday Night and Dead Prez was one of the featured poets. I was expecting some insightful, revolutionary riffs that would energize and inspire the masses. But what I got was sort of a ignorant, pseudo-intellectual mess that is particularly dangerous THIS year. (I'm paraphrasing here) They were basically said that they saw no reason in voting and something about "It's not about voting for the lessers of two evil, but the evil of two lesser's". Listen, I don't have any delusions about John Kerry singlehandedly leading black folks to the "promise-land", or have him fighting for us to get "reparations", but compared to the miserable record that Bush has had towards African Americans I think the choice is obvious.

The reason I get particularly upset is because,as I get older, I have a better ability to sift through the bullshit. Dead Prez claims to be revolutionaries and not letting the "white man" to control them, but last time I checked Sony records was owned by a white man..It is also hard to be revolutionaries when you pay taxes, do interviews on "white owned" networks, or have your songs played on "white owned" stations. Maybe I'm going overboard, but here is my point. It is irresponsible for Dead Prez to tell people "not to vote", showing that they are being "revolutionaries" when they aren't living that life themselves. Plus, I'd like you to tell the millions of black folks who have lost their jobs "not to vote". Tell the black folks who have lost their health care "not to vote". Tell our brothers and sisters who are gay "not to vote" when Bush wants to change the constitution so they can't get married. Tell the black folks who lost family members in Iraq "not to vote". Tell the black vets who have had their veteran benefits cut "not to vote". That is what made Public Enemy such a force to be reckoned with..They knew that true changes have to be made from the inside, voting being one of those choices. Making changes within your government is truly "revolutionary". People were lynched, burned, shot, and killed numerous ways just for us to get the right to vote and you bet your ass that I'm going to take advantage of it.

In closing, Dead Prez's notion of "not voting" is not only blatantly ignorant, but it is misinformed and clumsy. If black folks voted like they were supposed to, Florida wouldn't even be an issue and maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are in now.


piranha said...

wow. that was a word. it s good to read what you wrote back in september I am surprised I didn't check that out earlier anyways, being such a huge fan of yours by now...

I absolutely loved Dead Prez (yeah. although I am a pale female who grew up in europe) but this is definetely the wrong track, I agree. As for being revolutionary and still giving interviews on 'white owned' networks, be played in 'white radios' and finally having a record companty that is headed by a white guy I just can say that I think it d be even worse not to take those opportunities, if they are offered to you because a revolution in your little own world is probably also not what you are after, right?
Not to compromise yourself, however, by doing so, is of utmost importance. Just like you did with those golfer dudes recently.

I understand that the black thing or whatever you might call it, lets say the afroamerican issue is important and has to be tackled, but I must say that I have always sort of resented the almost at reverse racism bordering attitude of Dead Prez. It makes me feel sad. But maybe I am just a little bit too romantic and naive and my wish that those walls could crumble and fall down is childish. i don t know. but I prefer to stay a child then.

But I will always fight for justice and, most importantly, for crossing borders. It s not that I want everything to be equal but I want that people cherish each other and give each other reason to do so...

rokwel64 said...

cliche but we need to own our own record labels and penetrate pop culture to the point that the generations upcoming represent themselves as one human body.
next remove religion. it is simply a means to brainwash the masses especially stupid ass white folks (the ones who even white people call stupid fucks) who dont know shit and will never know shit.
the world hasn't changed for shit since the days of alexander the great and the sick ass greeks. however before that the original man in africa had a system of trade that ranged many continents on a peaceful buzz (to a degree). now it is the age of caucaian world domination but have no fear for once we pass on and turn to dust mankind will identify more dominant races until the term 'race' is no longer recognised and difference between humans. my estimate 4000 AD minimum. see you then, peace from new zealand.

BLESSD1 said...

I feel your beef w/what dead prez said. I have many friends who said, "What's the point in voting? It won't matter anyway", and now they're feeling the burn. Excellent post, HC


jameil1922 said...

ugh. if i hear another black man, black woman, black person say they don't vote, then have the NERVE to yell foul when bush and crew don't do anything for their communities and more children are being charged as adults for crimes white children are getting community service for, i'm going to scream. *screaming* b/c i'm sure as i type this someone's already doing it. probably someone who's never voted. don't complain if you don't vote. that's it. and it really pisses me off when its these people in positions of influence, particularly rappers, singers and actors (brian mcknight is another) use their widespread platforms to spew their ignorance. SHUT UP!!!