THE DEATH OF HIP HOP . . . PART III (Notes & Comments On The Hearse Ride To The Cemetery)
SIGH . . . The other night, I watched the 2nd half of Oprah's "After Imus: Now What?" town hall discussion. All I can do is shake my head. It truly saddens me to see & hear so many smart & talented Blk men speak & act as if they were in complete denial about a phenomenon that adversely affects so many of us.
For the most part, these men, all of whom are in positions of leadership, came across as a bunch of belligerent, whiney, 3 year-olds. Okay, here's a clue. When a grown azz Blk woman says, "Listening to rap artists call me and folks who look like me (be they nappy-headed or not) all kinds of bitches and ho's 24/7 is both insulting and demeaning," the proper response from a grown azz Blk man ought not be, "Uh-uh! No, it ain't! You're not the boss of me!" Sheeesh . . .
Russell Simmons. I don't know brother. I think you are a brilliant business man. I love what you're doing with Def Poetry. But the statement you made about Hip Hop doing more for race relations than the entire civil rights movement is A BIG, FAT LIE, plain and simple. If you actually believe that mess you are either sadly deluded, incredibly mis-educated or a mad man. Yeah, I said it. Meant it too.
Something tells me both Mr. Simmons and Kevin Liles, the entertainment executive who appeared on the show, have both bought into their own hype and now want us all to drink the Kool-Aid. Mr. Liles went into what can only be described as the Black male version of the neck-swerve when Stanley Crouch used the word "clown" in reference to the folks reponsible for the distribution and perpetuation of this demeaning garbage. The brother's near hysterics would have been comical were the situation not so sad.
No, Mr. Liles you're not a clown . . . you, sir, are the freaking RING-MASTER if you are sitting up behind a desk somewhere ALLOWING this crap to go on, as the one sister said, ON YOUR WATCH. And your little speech about going from intern to executive, I mean really, what is that? Another tired version of the "don't hate the player, hate the game" type of ignorance? Just so you know, for what it's worth, that's like telling folks you went from being a two-bit street corner pimp to running a brothel. And hey, that just might impress some of the simple-minded folk you obvioulsy run with, I don't know.
Common, I ain't mad at you bro. Matter of fact, I'm jamming "The Food" from your cd "Be" as I type this. I understand and appreciate your desire to elevate the "game" and represent another side of the discussion. Like I've stated before, censorship isn't a bandwagon I'm fixing to jump on for NOBODY. I appreciate both the beauty and power of words. And within the proper context, I don't object to the use of even the most vile of them. Now, when they're repeated hurled as weapons and they're used to hurt, malign and defame, that's another story.
So, Common, all I ask is that if you're going to continue to ride with those other clowns and fools, try to steer them away from the gutter and the drainage ditches. And for heaven's sake, if you see that those jokers are about to ride off a cliff or down some other street of no return, step off and tell 'em "later." Keep in mind, "thug solidarity" is what killed Tupac. Ain't no need of you going out like that. And oh, for the record, a lot of sisters, elders and quite a few brothers too have been trying to critique y'all in a spirit of love, but the knuckle-heads and puppet-masters in your crew ain't been trying to hear it. So, now we got to go summon up the ghosts of John Henry, Harriet Tubman and 'Nem and come back at 'em with the Hammer.
So, if nothing else, try to stay true to your own verses Common. Like you say in Chi-City" ... "it's a war going on . . . you can't fake being a soldier" and what's that you and Kanye say in "The Food" . . . "I know I . . . I could make it right, if I could just swallow my pride . . ." That's right C, keep "writing FREEDOM songs for the Real People."
Ben Chavis. I'm disappointed. But then again, maybe I ought not be. Didn't he get run out of the NAACP for improprieties with women? I'd hate to think this was yet another case of the Blind, trying to lead the Blind. But when you KNOW BETTER, aren't you supposed to DO BETTER? Yeah, I guess that's just another one of those things I learned back in the day that folks obvioulsy don't believe in any more.
Henry Louis Gates? Wait, wasn't he one of the chief defenders of the misogynistic filth being spewed by the likes of 2 Live Crew back in the early 90's? Please. With all due respect, he's a part of the problem. An academic hustle, is a hustle, none-the-less.
The only brother who really represented and came correct on Oprah's show yesterday was the attorney, Londell McMillan, the young man who said he'd represented a lot of the rap artists from Lil Kim to Kanye West and all those folks in-between. Big Ups to this brother for his poise, his leadership and his clarity.
Mr. McMillan said there were a lot of responsible parties who needed to be called to the table and held accountable for the misogyny and demeaning imagery in Hip Hop, among them the rappers themselves, producers, label heads, artistic development folks, consumers and radio stations. He dismissed this "oh, but they're poverty stricken and don't know any better" line of bull Simmons and Liles were trying to pitch. Like we don't know some of the worst of these fools come from middle class backgrounds . . .
Anyway, Mr. McMillan mentioned how some artists feel boxed in, obliged and are often aggressively encouraged to go the whole, "nigga, bitch, ho" route in their music. What's that I hear? The resounding echo of a "Whoop, There It Is!" Tell 'em 'bout it LM. In the Good Old USA, money is always the bottom-line. ain't it? The entertainment industry heads have latched onto this whack-azz formula and as long as it's fattening their wallets, they're not about to let it go without a fight.
Mr. Simmons, Mr. Liles and Mr. Chavis . . . it's not about hating Hip Hop. A lot of us love Hip Hop, we're just ready for all the blood-letting, name-calling, half-naked boot-shaking, stripper club behavior, pimping and thuggery to be over and done with. We're just tired of all the lame azz excuses and historically incorrect rationales for why it's okay for Blk men to call Blk women out of their names.
We're just tired of mourning what really and truly could have been a beautiful thing had not a bunch of greedy, opportunistic hustlers been allowed to muck it up. HELL, We're Just Tired . . . SIGH . . .