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.