Politics Monday: BlackElectorate.com Presents “The Streets Are Political” Mix CD Series
In celebration of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, New Jersey (June 16-19) and in remembrance of Juneteenth; BlackElectorate.com will release the first two volumes of its “The Streets Are Political” Mix CD series. The “Streets Are Political” Mix CD series is a multi-volume series of Mix CDs aimed at honoring, protecting and encouraging the political evolution of rap music and Hip-Hop culture; and the raising of consciousness among Hip-Hop artists and the Hip-Hop generation. The first two volumes, to be released initially at the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark - free-of-charge - feature a combined 50 tracks, including music from various Hip-Hop artists and powerful interludes and introductions that amplify an arbitrary 13 elements of politics:
The debut two volumes of the “Streets Are Political” series are subtitled, “The RapCOINTELPRO” edition, to highlight the growing concerns and evidence that Hip-Hop artists are uniquely being targeted by local law enforcement and federal agencies in a manner similar to the tactics utilized and implemented by late FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover last century. The “Streets Are Political” series, through music and commentary, is also aimed at educating the public about the revolutionary power of Hip-Hop – as an artistic, cultural, economic, and political force. The first two editions of the Mix CD series is also designed to amplify the 4-year, 15-part, RapCOINTELPRO series at BlackElectorate.com which explores how and why Hip-Hop is viewed as a threat to some in power in America and throughout the world.
The “Streets are Political” series is exclusively mixed by D.J. A.N.G. for Fallen Angel Entertainment. Below is an interview of BlackElectorate.com Publisher, Cedric Muhammad regarding the Mix CDs series, conducted by D.J. A.N.G.:
D.J. A.N.G.: How did you come up with the idea for “The Streets Are Political” series and these thirteen elements?
Cedric Muhammad: It all grows out of my love for Hip-Hop, my background in the music business, and our 15-part series published at BlackElectorate.com that explored the possibility, suspected for years, that rap artists were attracting a striking amount of scrutiny and criticism from the mainstream corporate media, politicians, law enforcement agencies and government officials. The series began when a friend, Wendy Day of RapCoalition (http://www.rapcoalition.org/), an organization dedicated to the unity, empowerment, and education of rap artists, asked me to define and explain COINTELPRO for her website. I responded by authoring a series at BlackElectorate.com. I began writing it four years ago, and many people, even journalists within the Hip-Hop community mocked the idea or dismissed it uncritically. But since then, major publications have come out providing more and more evidence and details that something big is at work. The most dramatic and recent of these is the big March 9, 2004 Miami Herald article, written by Evelyn McDonnell and Nicole White, "Police Secretly Watching Hip-Hop Artists". The thirteen elements that I came up with are only a group of a much larger number of “political” elements or attributes of Hip-Hop culture. We are only providing a starting reference point. The point in identifying and isolating these thirteen is to provide a broad picture of life, as reported and dramatized by a compilation of Hip-Hop songs. Some are introspective, and others are more outward in look, but they all are part of the life force and experience of Black people and the Hip-Hop generation in the United States of America.
D.J. A.N.G.: What do you hope to accomplish through this?
Cedric Muhammad: Well, first I want to make clear that the “RapCOINTELPRO edition” is only a few volumes of the entire “The Streets Are Political” series. We are releasing the first two volumes this month, with more to follow. The entire series is going to push the envelope, hopefully as a catalyst for entrepreneurial development, community education and political action in the context of Hip-Hop culture, the music industry and the electoral system. Many people are espousing rhetoric about the relationship between politics and Hip-Hop; and we want to challenge these notions, give greater precision to the terms, ideas, and concepts; and support progressive activity and community development. The RapCOINTELPRO edition uses music, commentary, snippets, and interludes to make a statement about the political essence of Hip-Hop and explain why Hip-Hop is seen as a means of salvation by some among the oppressed and as a threat to national security by some in high places of power. Hip-Hop music is very nuanced and complicated; and we wanted to provide an uncensored editorial statement from a variety of artists and other persons, and sources, that we hope will make the listener think, cry, laugh, bob their head, get upset and offended, be inspired; but most importantly - learn. They have to listen carefully, though, and they have to be prepared for harsh and graphic language.
D.J. A.N.G.: Why do you think Hip-Hop is being targeted?
Cedric Muhammad: Well, our 15-part series at BlackElectorate.com gives a more complete answer than time and space allows here, but one aspect of a good answer to that question should include an understanding of the thinking of former FBI-head J. Edgar Hoover – a Shriner – who wrote in an infamous August 25, 1967 memorandum that “rabble rouser leaders” must be prevented “from spreading their philosophy publicly or through various mass communication media.” It is clear to me, and others, that rap artists are seen by many as part of the “rabble rousers” of today, and less obviously - even to scholars and self-styled experts - that rap music and Hip-Hop culture have become the definitive mass communication media of the youth, Black and Latino; and oppressed and discriminated communities in the United States of America. It is gradually becoming the mass communication media of similar communities all over the world. This does not even begin to touch on the real economic and financial power of Hip-Hop. This Mix CD compilation series reinforces the statement of Hip-Hop as a mass communication media, of political essence, impact and consequence. We are distributing these CDs free-of-charge in the streets (only asking for shipping and handling when mailed), and as free promotional items accompanying purchases of important books in the BlackElectorate.com bookstore.
D.J. A.N.G.: Who are some of the artists and voices featured on the Mix CD?
Cedric Muhammad: I won’t get into that until the CD is first publicly released at the National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, New Jersey. I am tempted to not even get too much into the names period, even after that date. I see the artists and interludes as one voice, making more of a collective statement than an individual one. However, we did want to stress, with the song selection that the Hip-Hop community needs to broaden its definition of consciousness and politics. I think it has been relatively narrow, too ideological, with only a handful of artists being seen as progressive or political. We wanted to show, with this CD, that some of the artists seen as “gangster”, “materialistic”, and “negative” have actually produced some of the most poignant and powerful statements on elements in the broader definition of politics that we are seeking to promote.
D.J. A.N.G.: So what is next?
Cedric Muhammad: Something powerful. On July 4th weekend we are planning to release another Mix CD that we hope will influence a change in the game. We are serious about supporting and challenging artists, the industry, and the generation to not just talk about it, but to actually politick and make real power moves that empower us culturally, politically, and economically. This is neither politics nor business as usual.
Monday, June 7, 2004