Hip-Hop Fridays: My Interview With Davey D., "How Hip-Hop's Political Movement Gets Compromised!"
On January 5, 2004, Hip-Hop opinion leader and historian Davey D. had me on as a guest on his popular "Hard Knock Radio" program heard in the Bay Area and across the country. I had just finished my weekly BlackElectorate.com segment on Matsimela Mapfumo's, "Make It Plain!" radio program.
I had no idea that what I would say on Davey D's show would end up being transcribed and circulated all over the Internet sparking some of the most thoughtful reactions I have seen on list serves and received in some time via e-mail. Davey and I did not rehearse the questions and answers and the transcript he labored over reads almost verbatim. I knew my comments resonated with many people, when almost instantly, after I got off of the air with Davey, I received e-mails from several listeners who were impacted by what Davey and I discussed.
I was very tired before, during, and after the show and had a splitting headache and was actually unsure of how I came across. I almost always pray before I speak in public, try to do the best I can, and hope that my words will raise the consciousness of the listener and anyone who seeks or loves truth. But I had no clue that this particular interview would generate what it has, in only a few days of its publication. Evidently, the subject of Hip-Hop political activism and thought is a huge one.
Davey's questioning helped me to distill an almost infinite stream of thought I have regarding the elusive Hip-Hop political movement juxtaposed to the Black electorate and a confluence of forces. I have thought about this subject, non-stop (it seems), since I was 17 years old. My first radio appearance was on 105.3 WDAS-FM, in Philadelphia where I actually spoke about the rap group Public Enemy's effect on political thought and race relations. Since that time I have seen the phenomenon, as a fan of the music, a promoter and manager within the industry, a business and politcal eonomist; and as a journalist and publisher.
I am grateful for Davey D. for encouraging me to talk about the subject as he has - for nearly 4 years, even at times when I have been reluctant or shy. As I have said and written before, in my view, he is the most important opinion leader in all of Hip-Hop - generation, community and industry.
I hope that you all will consider commenting on the interview in the BlackElectorate.com Dialogue Room.
Depending upon how things go, and if there is enough of a response, I may break my self-imposed exile from the Dialogue Room (because it belongs to the entire community, not the publisher) and join this particular discussion (smile).
Below is the unedited transcript with a few brief comments from me and links in paranthesis ( ).
I hope you will consider it "food for thought," whether you agree or disagree.
January 16, 2004
AL SHARPTON RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT
Davey D: We wanna welcome Cedric Muhammed of Blackelectorate.com to Hard Knock Radio right here on 94.1 KPFA.
For those who don’t know Ced was the former general manager of the multiplatinum group the Wu-Tang Clan, and currently runs one of the most respected and highly visited political websites Blackelectorate.com. We always like to check in with you once a month just keep our ears to the ground and fingers on the pulse. Now if I understand it correctly, you just finished doing your own radio show with Presidential candidate Reverend Al Sharpton.
Cedric Muhammed: Yeah we just had him on the air and covered a lot of ground… He didn’t know that today’s Wall Street Journal had an editorial opinion piece by Zell Miller the controversial Senator from Georgia ("Memo to Terry McAwful" by Zell Miller: http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110004508) . He’s a Democratic US Senator who flirts consistently with the Republican party and conservative groups . They really like him because he was very critical of the Clinton administration and he’s critical Terry McAluliffe who heads the DNC. He has an op ed in today’s Wall Street Journal called ‘Memo Terry ‘McAwful’ .
The first part of the editorial deals just with Reverend Sharpton and he alludes to the tremendous influence that Rev Sharpton has. He thinks that Rev Sharpton is a more formidable candidate than was Reverend Jesse Jackson. He also thinks that Reverend Sharpton has a good chance of winning at least 4 states in the South.
Reverend Sharpton didn’t realize all this so I’m reading all this to him on the show and he was on fire after hearing all this. He took the opportunity to make the case that he believes that he’s the heir to the candidacy of Reverend Jackson in ‘84 and ‘88. He believes that if you supported Rev Jackson in those years there is no rational not to support him in 2004.
Davey D: Let me ask you something-when Reverend Sharpton uses terms like ‘heir to Reverend Jackson, he makes it seem like there’s only one Black leader and he’s somehow next in line. That sort of outlook which has us only having one Black leader has increasingly become something that rubs people the wrong way and is increasingly being rejected by today’s Hip Hop Generation. Many feel that this ‘one leader in the community scenario’ has played itself out. The end result has been folks feeling disenfranchised to the point that they no longer bother to participate or even pay attention to those leaders . How does Reverend Sharpton see this?
Cedric: Well actually, that term ‘heir’ was my use of the word, but that’s accurately how he sees himself. He feels he’s inherited a legacy. He believes he’s the spiritual son in the sense that he’s the most like Reverend Jackson out of any of the people who are out in politics today especially Presidential politics. The similarities are too great to not like him if you liked Reverend Jackson.
I understand your first point and I think there’s a problem with the line of thinking that because you are like somebody that you are somehow obligated to inherit their supporters. However, I think the point the Reverend Sharpton is trying to get across is that the same arguments that are being used against his candidacy that it will take away support from the Democratic Party front runner or the nominee, or that he’s divisive or that he’s injecting race and raising issues that are making people feel uncomfortable and will not be palatable to ‘white America’ are all arguments that Reverend Jackson heard especially during his candidacy in 1984. In a way Sharpton is putting a mirror up to Jackson supporters who defended Reverend Jackson, but won’t support or defend Reverend Sharpton.
Davey D: Building off that point, lets go back to the Presidential runs of Reverend Jackson in ‘84 and ‘88, what do you think are the mistakes that he made that Sharpton needs to avoid in 2004?
Cedric: Well I think Sharpton understand the mistake Jackson has made is that he leveraged his influence and political power in more personal ways as opposed to ways that would be more beneficial to the masses. Certainly Reverend Jackson helped get a lot of people into office -There’s no denying that. A lot of Black politicians both in statewide offices and local races got into power because Reverend Jackson supported them or because they ran on the principles that he espoused. But somewhere down the line things went a little haywire and it became more about whether or not Reverend Jackson would become the Vice President or appointed to a cabinet position. I think when the direction became a little more personal and not about the principles and policies and agenda items, that’s where I think we lost the ball with Reverend Jackson’s campaigns in ‘84 and ‘88.
Also Reverend Jackson had enough popularity to entertain an independent run and he totally dismissed that possibility. Reverend Sharpton is not dismissing that even though he’s going to downplay it at this moment. But its something that he has not totally ruled out. I think that would be interesting to see if he were to do well in several states, accumulate a lot of delegates, try to negotiate at the Democratic Convention only to be rebuffed, would he consider supporting a Ralph Nader or consider himself to run on a third party ticket or perhaps saying to Black people I’m not going to run independent but I’m not going to automatically or enthusiastically support the Democratic nominee. That would be a major problem for the Democratic Party
THE PROBLEM WITH THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Davey D: One of things that’s happened with the Democratic Party which The African American Community as one of their main constituents, is that they have moved away from the key issues that we need to have championed. Under Bill Clinton-his legacy was that he moved the Democratic Party to the center and in doing so, a lot of key issues that we as African Americans would be directly impacted by were sacrificed. Maybe it was welfare reform. Maybe it was the building or more prisons. Increasing the number of police-we can go all the way down the list. The bread and butter issues for us were put to the back burner in an attempt to make middle of the road, swing voters in the form of white suburbanites and soccer moms feel more comfortable with the Democratic agenda. In other words the decision was made to take African Americans for granted while going all out to court fickle white voters and make them feel comfortable.
Many younger people in particular those of the Hip Hop generation have peeped that and have been leaving the Democratic Party in droves. Does Sharpton see this happening and will he stick with some of those key issues or move in step with the current Democratic agenda?
Cedric: You just brilliantly laid out the laid out the legacy of the DLC.-The Democratic Leadership Council, which was a group of Democrats that got together in the ‘80s with Al Gore being a founding member (Please see, "E-Letter to the Washington Post Regarding "Al Gore and the Legacy of Race," April 25, 2000.) Bill Clinton later joined the council. They crafted together this idea that the Democratic Party had become a minority party and as you pointed out, they felt that they could not win the support of Reagan Democrats. Reverend Sharpton has fought that group tooth and nail. He has critiqued the Democratic Leadership Council. He has critiqued members like Senator Joe Liberman and others who are involved in that group. He has tried to pull the party to the left.
Sharpton supports Reparations and other ideas that under the Clinton administration the Democratic Party would never support. Because of that, there’s been tremendous tension between him and many of the members who are in the upper tiers of the Democratic Party. Now the interesting thing is that Howard Dean has had similar problems with that same group, however, he has taken it upon himself to use code words to say and do the exact same thing that President Clinton did-which is go for the center.
Davey D: So what were talking about is following in the footsteps of a guy like Clinton who kicked a Sister Souljah in the teeth, dismissed the important issues raised by a Jesse Jackson and championed policies that were opposed by the majority in our community. I guess by doing this he was showing middle of the road white voters that he would ‘stand up to minority interests’ and show that he was the man.
Cedric: Howard Dean has learned that that approach has some cost to it-so you will see him do those same types of things more subtly by mentioning the Confederate flag, Jesus and religion and promising to talk more about those issues.
Today on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, Howard Dean is the main feature where he talks about his background as an investor (Please see: "Dean on Economy: Wall Street Roots, Main Street Talk," Wall St. Journal by Bod Davis and Jackie Calmes, January 5, 2004).
It actually turns out that one of Dean’s advisors is on the board of directors for the Dow Jones and Company which owns the WSJ (That adviser is former Bankers Trust Chief Executive Frank Newman.) In the article, Dean talks about how his father was a professional investor. His family is about three generations deep into Wall Street. Howard Dean has about 4.2 million dollars in his investments and savings. The point of him being featured in the Wall Street Journal where he makes the statement that he’s always seen himself as a centrist, that’s designed to do the exact same thing that President Clinton did. That’s designed to communicate to people in Wall Street. His remarks about the Confederate flag was designed to communicate to people in the South. His remarks about Jesus are designed to communicate to the people in America’s heartland. He’s doing things more skillfully and subtly than Clinton, but the results are designed to get the same results. So the Black electorate cannot necessarily count on Howard dean to represent a lot of their core issues.
HIP HOP AND POLITICS CAN THEY WORK?
Davey D: Now that we laid this out, I wanna switch gears and talk about what some may view as a coordinated preemptive strike. We are now starting to see more and more articles popping up that are very critical of Hip Hop leadership and its attempts to engage politics. It seems like there are a lot of attempts to take swipes at the younger generation which is now entering into their 30s and starting to lay down their own groundwork and form their own political identities, philosophies and agenda. For the most part large parts of this new agenda does not include automatic support of the Democratic establishment which for years has been in bed with their parents and grandparents. That all seems really strange considering that for years people were upset that Hip Hoppers weren’t more political. Now those same people seem upset that the Russell Simmons, jay-Zs and P-Diddy’s are entering into the political arena.
At the same time we are also starting to see a number of books coming out of the Hip Hop Community that are addressing the issue of politics. We’re all familiar with former Source Magazine political editor Bakari Kitwana’s book ‘The Hip Hop Generation’. He’s about to put out another book. Yvonne Bynoe who runs a Hip Hop/Political Think Tank called Urban Think Tank has just released a book. Jeff Chang who is located right here in the Bay Area is about to release a book called ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’. A number of Hip Hop activists are set to release a book called ‘How To Get Stupid White Men out of Office’
All this is taking place along with the upcoming National Hip Hop Political Convention this June in Newark. Russell Simmons plans to put on 30-40 Hip Hop Summits as we lead up to the 2004 presidential election. The first one will be in Houston during Superbowl Weekend.
How do you think all these efforts will play out? After all, its only a matter of time before outside forces who find all this threatening will make concerted attempts to cause confusion and create divisions? Is this shaping up to be younger generation versus older generation? Is this a changing of the guard or a passing the torch?
Cedric: I think what’s going to happen unfortunately what’s going to happen with the Hip Hop political movement and the political elements of Hip Hop culture is going to get further absorbed and co-opted this year. I don’t believe those of us who were the Public Enemy teenagers and the fans of KRS, Rakim and X-Clan-I don’t think we have done enough to synthesize our views, institutionalizing them and leveraging them.
I think people like Bakari, Yvonne and Jeff are important. They’re the vanguard and our leaders. But I don’t think we’ve done enough of a good job getting them out front and establishing the positioning and profiling that they would need to influence artists as well as young fans of the music.
I think the Hip Hop media has been compromised and has been sidetracked with the business and commercial aspects of what goes on. I just think there hasn’t been any real dialogue or discussion in the way of the mainstream of Hip Hop culture whether it’s the video outlets, radio or print with a few exceptions. Now ere trying to do all this in an election year and I don’t think that you can build a movement at the same time that you are obligated to support somebody. What happens is you wind up watering down the purity of your message and your agenda and your naturally wind up compromising. So hopefully that political convention that is scheduled to take place in Newark will be a defining moment where we can hold ourselves and candidates accountable. I think Russell Simmons is the wild card in all of this but its clear to me after interviewing Russell (Please see: Exclusive Q & A With Russell Simmons, Chairman Of The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (Part I), http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=790) that he’s a Democrat as much as he is a Hip Hop activist or philanthropist. At the end of day, I think Russell would support Howard Dean or the Democratic nominee, no matter what.
When Russell Simmons and Vince McMann got together and announced that they were looking to register 2 million voters , I’ve been watching that carefully (Please see: Can Two Cultural Geniuses Spark A Political Revolution?, http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=963; and E-Letter To Vince McMahon and Russell Simmons - Some Advice For "2 Million More in 2004," http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=984.) I wanted to know if those voter registration drives and Hip Hop Summits would reflect an independent and an apathetic voice which is just as important and as much a part of the Hip Hop political element as is voting. You have very opinionated, skeptical, non participating young people in the Hip Hop electorate and I think there’s a void that has not been filled in terms of speaking to that group. So I believe in 2004 some of us are going to be herded into supporting the Democratic nominee. Some of us will look at Third party options and yes unfortunately I think there’s going to be ‘Divide and Conquer’ unless something exceptional or unforeseen happens which is always possible.
Davey D: That’s’ sobering…
Cedric: That’s not good news right?
Davey D: No , but I can see the handwriting on the wall. From my own personal observation, I seen 3 of the Democratic candidates, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton make concerted efforts to reach out to the Hip Hop community. For example, Kucinich has not only appeared on a number of Hip Hop radio shows around the country and I belive he‘s been very sincere. He‘s also held a number of Hip Hop roundtable events including a well attended event right here in Oakland. He’s also getting ready to feature a Hip Hop page on his website.
Sharpton of course has rolled with P-Diddy and recently held a fundraiser at Jay-Z’s 40/40 club. He also has a close alignment with Russell Simmons. And Howard Dean’s people have been reaching out. They recently had a couple of local acts here in the Bay Area play at their fundraiser and they are now trying to start a Hip Hoppers for Dean organization. I thought it was pretty ironic that Howard Dean who is politically more conservative than Kucinich and Sharpton actually had an essay featured on his website that was written by rap artist Paris who explained why one should vote.
So while I see those sorts of things happening, I’m also starting to hear that candidates are getting their financial war chests ready so that they can aggressively market themselves and connect them to the lifestyles of that all important indecisive 18-34 year voter who for the most part makes up the Hip Hop generation. I think in 2004 you will see some of these candidates language themselves and even put forth images that will appeal to that Hip Hop electorate. My concern is that the issues will not sincerely be addressed. But there will be all out attempt to blitz that audience with nice ads and other things that they will find attractive. I wouldn’t even count George Bush out in terms of taking that approach. If you recall during the recent election cycle the Republican Party ran ads on various urban stations around the country in attempt to sway voters. What do you think we within Hip Hop should be doing to handle all this?
HOW HIP HOP POLITICAL MOVEMENT GETS COMPROMISED
Cedric: Davey in all honesty, the blueprint for what will happen to the Hip Hop political movement has and is happening within the music itself. The commercialization of Hip Hop will be no different then the politicization of Hip Hop. The way that our culture was commercialized and commodified that’s the same way that our political sentiments and energy is going to be commercialized. We didn’t stop them from commercializing and watering down the music and portraying a false image of Hip Hop’s essence and in one years time we’re not going to be able to stop that from happening on the political front.
Davey D: Why can’t we stop things from going astray? Today within Hip Hop we can set off all sorts of trends literally overnight. Look at all the ways in which Hip Hop has influenced things in a relatively short period of time-from fashion all the way up the Old Navy Commercials using Hip Hop slang like fashizzle my nizzle. Also I would like you to wear another hat for a few moments. For those of you who are listening to this show, Cedric Muhammed in addition to being an astute political commentator and analyst has a rich history in the music business. For a number of years he was the general manager for the Wu-Tang Clan. He knows a lot of the key artist in this industry personally and deals with them all the time or has dealt with them. My question to you is Do those artists become a primary target that who we should be dancing with because they can quickly turn the tide should they choose to put their heart and soul and energy toward a particular message?
Cedric: Yes, I agree, but the problem with the Hip Hop political movement is that many of the activists don’t have good relationships with the artists. I know that there are a few that do, but on a whole I think we become what we condemned. A lot of us have become very preachy and we don’t network. A lot of us don’t like the music and we spend a lot of time condemning it as opposed to building relationships and doing business so we can get close to the artists so we can eventually influence them. Many of the ‘great thinkers’ within Hip Hop could not get a hearing with some of these artists.
Davey D: Before we move on let me just quickly announce that this Friday we will have in the studios Slick Rick. He’s coming to the Bay Area to do a special performance and in case you don’t know he was one of the first and definitely one of the most high profile people to get locked up under the post 9-11 immigration laws. Ced you worked with Slick Rick’s wife Many when he was unfairly locked up…
Cedric: Yes, that’s a perfect example, of what I’m talking about. Russell Simmons who did an excellent job getting the word out and helping bring attention to that case ran into problems in helping Slick Rick because he did not have strong Republican Party ties. We were dealing with a case that involved a New York artist who was living in a state with a Republican Governor. You have a Bush administration that’s Republican. That was a classic example, of where the political essence of Hip Hop should be non partisan and at times even apolitical because one of our leaders is Russell who leans so heavily toward one party that he wasn’t able to leverage all of our resources on behalf of Slick Rick. But then again if it wasn’t for Russell there’s a whole lot of us within Hip Hop who wouldn’t have any awareness or thoughts of entertaining politics. My point that I was making earlier is that there’s a lot of disunity amongst those who claim to wear this Hip Hop political hat. We have activists that don’t like the academic intellectuals who don’t like the entrepreneurs who don’t like some of the artists who are struggling to develop a political consciousness.
Whenever you are looking for some of your out front people to be political leaders, present the ideas and do the thinking, you are going to always be in trouble. I think you need that coach, that GM and that strategist who are behind the scenes who can help that person who has the limelight and popularity.
I think there’s a major disconnect behind the scenes between many of us who have all these great ideas and are from a political grassroots network and the artists. Lets be honest, the young people like the artists. They don’t care too much about too much news or what intellectuals within Hip Hop are saying. They wanna know what’s going on with Jay-Z or what’s up 50 Cent or what’s happening with the G-Unit. They wanna know about Westside Connection and the whole nine. I think some of us on the intellectual side resent that. We resent that influence that these artists have on the basis of superficiality. Rather then embracing this and synthesizing this with some of the ideas that we have. Once this happens things will change.
Ras Baraka who is one of the key people behind the National Hip Hop Convention is in a good position to make this happen. He has a great relationship with many of the key artists and he’s in the political arena [Deputy Mayor of Newark New Jersey]. Once people like him get to be more in the forefront they can then compliment some of the things that Russell Simmons is doing. You will start to see a Hip Hop community that’s going to command respect that can then dictate an agenda the way AIPAC does or AARP or the NAACP. Until we have that type of dialogue, unity and greater collaboration and respect and appreciation for the differences that are within the community, you will see us co-opted and absorbed by mainstream institutions that already set to offer us a few crumbs, some limelight and some flattery.
Davey D: We’ve been speaking about Hip Hop and Politics and how its impacting the African American Community. In doing so we have to factor in the already existing challenges and dynamics that we encounter everyday. But nowadays in 2004, Hip Hop is Universal. It’s worldwide and we have lot of folks outside the African American community who also see Hip Hop Culture as this viable tool that serve as a rallying point and hopefully help bring about social change. Currently there are a lot of white kids who are coming together and organizing and attempting to leverage some sort of political power utilizing Hip Hop. Some of these white kids actually do have some connections to institutions and within traditional political arenas. How does all this factor in especially as folks who identify themselves as being part of the mainstream who now see no problem utilizing Hip Hop to push forth their own agendas which may or may not encompassing the issues and concerns within Black America.?
Cedric: I think you have to respect that…
Davey D: But will their embracing of Hip Hop coincide with our concerns? How do we deal with the racial dynamics that are very much apart of our day to day lives but are often not honestly talked about within Hip Hop? We do have number of white kids who are starting to put out books, make documentaries and bring their own expertise to the table as they attempt to define things from their perspective. They are also starting to organize and in some cases get access to these political movers and shakers who might be inclined to listen to someone who they can immediately identify with as opposed to one of us?
Cedric: Well, lets take for example, some of the young Hip Hop activists who are getting behind Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich, to me if they are authentically part of the community they would have to get behind and represent our interests. If they’re trying to get behind Hip Hop and sanitize it and make it palatable for the mainstream white audience, then of course they are not going to bring race into the agenda. I would think that the natural distribution of leadership within Hip Hop would lead to Blacks, Latinos and Asian youth. I think whites may have more numbers and they may have better networks in some cases, but at the end of the day, the culture is being guided by young people of color in my estimation. People will usually defer to that group when it comes to guidance. People will defer to Russell or defer to the artists who are overwhelmingly in these minority groups. I think if we would just take care of that aspect of things the rest of the body will recognize its head and we can move out on an agenda.
What’s happening now is that people are pimping Hip Hop as a marketing niche which is not the same as Hip Hop the culture. You have people who work for Nike and Reebok and Nokia, who study Hip Hop culture and Hip Hop trends, but at the end of the day they aren’t necessarily respectful of the culture. They trend to take the cultural icons and use them to push ready made existing products and services. That’s not something I would consider to be part of the Hip Hop Political movement if you were to apply those principles to a candidate.
So if a guy like Howard Dean says an artist like Wyclef Jean is his favorite artists which is what he’s said in past interviews, then I would like to know what is Howard Dean’s position on Haiti? What is Howard Dean going to say about the Haitian refugees who get turned back? What is Howard Dean saying about Haiti’s demand to France for 2 trillion dollars in reparations? (Some activist groups and international organizations are advocating $2 trillion in reparations. The official government demand is $21 billion. Please see: "Haiti hounds France for billions in reparation for colonial rule" http://220.127.116.11/focus/f-news/936034/posts.) That to me is holding Howard Dean accountable to his embracement of a cultural icon. That will be up to Wyclef and others who are Haitian and part of our Hip Hop family to say to Howard Dean and his supporters; ‘Hey we appreciate you hugging up to Wyclef Jean and pointing out his CD, but if you really listen to it, then you will have to integrate many of those key issues that Wyclef raises into your campaign‘.
Davey D: Not only would it be up to Wyclef to publicly ask that question, but it would also be up to journalist like me or you to also ask that question and demand answers.
Cedric: I actually had Wyclef on my show and talked about this. (The week Wyclef's new album, "The Preacher's Son" was out he came on "Make It Plain!" and we discussed the significance of Haiti's bicentennial celebration of its independence from France) Before he could get deep and answer these questions he had to go. But I’m confident that individuals like Ras Baraka who is in Newark and Wyclef with his connections to the Haitian community would raise this issue if Howard Dean came to the Nation Hip Hop Political Convention.
I’m putting everyone on notice that if he comes to that conference then those issues around Haiti need to be addressed. That’s what I’m going to be looking for. At that point it starts to become about the issues. But what I hear constantly over and over again is Russell and others saying ‘We just gotta get people to vote! We just gotta get people to vote’. I don’t necessarily know if the voting comes before an authentic agenda that disenchanted and apathetic Hip Hop members of the community wanna hear about.
I don’t accept the premise that people who don’t vote are somehow stupid or apathetic. I think many of them are making an intelligent decision, just like you might make an intelligent decision to not buy a product. Many of them figure that they are in the political marketplace and they do not want to buy any of the candidates. So if the spirit of Hip Hop can effect the agenda and the discourse you’ll start producing relationships with candidates that are attractive to people that say ‘F__ The Police’, that don’t vote and fighting the power is all that’s on their mind.
COINTEL-PRO IN HIP HOP'S POLITICAL MOVEMENT
Davey D: You have on your website a 14 part series called Rap Cointel-Pro that focuses on what you believe to be the continuation of the Counter Intelligence program started by FBI director J Edgar Hoover in the 1960s (Please see: Rap COINTELPRO Part XIV: President Kennedy, Tupac, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, and Minister Farrakhan, http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=1004.) This movement called Cointel-pro was used to undermine and eventual destroy, discredit and dismantle the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, The Anti-war and Free Speech movements and of course the Black Panthers and other militant organizations. In recent months I’ve noticed that there have been some serious attacks on the characters of key individuals within Hip Hop who have the potential to really shake things up if they decided to transfer their popularity and put it behind a political agenda. Some of these individuals and organizations already yield ed major influence in Hip Hop. I’m looking at recent character attacks on the Nation of Islam especially in recent days with the speculation that they are somehow involved with Michael Jackson, The recent scenario with Minister Farrakhan and Ja Rule. Even the situation with Eminem. There were many who were speculating that if he ever got on stage and told his fans to move in a particular political direction he would serious cause an upheaval especially because he so many fervent fans within the mainstream. Finally we still have the ongoing problem of not having many of the socially conscious and political artists not have their music played via mainstream outlets. Am I wrong to not speculate that this may be apart of the Cointel-pro or as you call it today Rap Cointel-Pro? Or is all this a result of our own shortcomings?
Cedric: No, if you and I have to be the only people on air talking about this that would be how things end up. I think you’re 100% correct to raise the issue. I see Cointel-Pro when they place the wrong picture pf members of the NOI when talking about Michael Jackson. I see Cointel-Pro at work when reporters from Fox News say they were distributed information about the Nation of Islam (Please see: "Jacko, Page Six, Yada Yada Errata," by Roger Friedman http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,107322,00.html) regarding this situation with Michael Jackson. With regards to Eminem, absolutely. We know that if Eminem ever got up and said ‘Vote for this Candidate’ or ‘Donate 10 dollars to this political cause’, during an election year when he was respected by both the Black and had his natural base of fans in the white communities he could potentially be the most powerful person in America-hands down. Anybody who can get 2 million fans to come out and get his album the first week its out has power, but because of his beef with The Source Magazine and the comments he made about Black women when he was younger, there’s no doubt there has been a serious erosion of his credibility within the Black community and in the streets of many inner cities.
With regards to Minister Farrakhan and his involvement to mediate the beef between Ja Rule and 50 Cent, there are many who are speculating that that beef was not a real one and the Minister could’ve better expanded his energy. This is what is being exchanged via email and websites on the internet (Please see: "Posturing rappers should put an end to childish feud" http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/democrat/news/opinion/7357803.htm.)
Now if you just take everything that was said and you combine them and then insert a major eruption of violence or a major beef in Hip Hop, the answer to your question is that we are less prepared today to deal with that situation in light of the three factors that you mentioned then we were just six months ago.
Davey D: Those are some sobering words and you left us with a lot to think about…
Cedric: can I just say one last thing? I don’t normally do this, but Davey you were instrumental when you interviewed Cynthia McKinney and you followed her campaign. She was the first candidate that we know of and a member of Congress that actually put out a Hip Hop component to her platform (Please see: "...Cynthia McKinney on Hip-Hop" http://www.cynthia2002.com/hip-hop.htm). You had a lot to do with that. That’s an example of what I’m talking about when Hip Hop thinkers and activist are influencing and working with politicians. I had to giove you your props on that..
Davey D: I appreciate the love.
Friday, January 16, 2004
To discuss this article further enter The Deeper Look Dialogue Room
The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of BlackElectorate.com or Black Electorate Communications.