Hip Hop Fridays: An Open Letter to the NY Daily News About KRS-One
Dear George Rush, Joanna Molloy, The New York Daily News and all other parties involved,
My name is Tony Muhammad, President and founder of Urban America Enterprises, Inc. and publisher of Urban America Newspaper, the first ever urban community newspaper, based in South Florida. I am responding to the inflammatory commentary made about one of the most respected teachers and leaders in Hip-Hop, KRS-ONE. The commentary appeared very recently in The New York Daily News in an article entitled KRS-One, decency zero. The article itself pertained to statements made by KRS-ONE at a recent panel lecture concerning the Hip-Hop community’s response to the 9-11 terror attacks. After careful analysis of both the article published in The New York Daily News and KRS-ONE’s response, which is currently being circulated on several sites on the internet, I can very much say that your brand of journalism is not only irresponsible, but it is “choppy” and insulting both to KRS-ONE and the Hip-Hop community. According to your biography, Mr. Rush, you have a Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and have been published in various magazines as well as publishing a book yourself. Tell me, how this can be true? As an experienced educator I can safely say that I have seen greater detail in 3rd grade level essays about “favorite things to do” than in your “high status” New York Daily News article about what KRS-ONE supposedly said.
His statements, I admit, would be considered “controversial” to people such as yourselves, considering your backgrounds. However, just because you did not fully understand what he said, does that give you a right to twist his words around according to your own paranoid view of reality (a syndrome from which a large percentage of Americans today suffer from thanks to the Bush Administration’s terror alert campaigns)?
If you considered KRS-ONE’s statements so shocking or feel that you may have misinterpreted something he said, why did you not take the opportunity to ask a question to receive more clarity? Even if you did not have the opportunity to ask questions, perhaps you would have done better justice by printing more fully what the man actually said. To automatically and “officially” declare “his solidarity with Al Qaeda,” the group linked with the murder of over two thousand people is repulsively sick. You are speaking of a man who has organized with his Temple of Hiphop annual days of mourning to the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks. Not only this, since 1987, I have religiously heard the man’s music, which has frequently contained lyrics emphasizing “world peace.” KRS-ONE’s statement about how “Hiphoppas” (not merely African-Americans as you put it) cheered and said “justice” when they saw the World Trade Center being attacked is indeed scary but it is very much a real view that much of today’s youth hold. Trust me. It is no coincidence that soon after this horrible act was broadcasted on television, many of my own students at the time were theorizing that the Bush Administration was responsible (Not that I believe or disbelieve this myself, but, in effect, posing the question as to why they would automatically think this way).
Why do you believe there was so much support for Jadakiss’ controversial song Why? (this song itself includes a question pertaining to why Bush blew up the towers – a song aired uncensored and highly requested on New York FM radio). Many of our inner-city youth may not know how to express themselves fully on such topics as the 9-11 terror attacks, largely due to their own lack of study. Yet and still, they are harassed enough by police to identify a common threat. Yet and still, they are annoyingly tested like genie pigs in the public schools enough to identify a common threat. This is not to mention that anger on the part of the poor world wide has built up immensely thanks to the World Trade Organization. In America we are constantly losing jobs which are being transported overseas. The result? The decrease of legal inner-city economies has led to the rise of illegal economies, which many youths participate in. The high neglect of such communities in America has left them in conditions similar to those of 3rd World Countries. In Third World Countries, as I am sure you are aware, youth are employed in factories owned by the same companies that left the inner-cities of America, where they produced products such as Nike shoes; laboring for, in some cases, two cents a day. The Hip-Hop youth of America, in turn, purchase such products twenty to thirty times more than what they are actually worth. This is partially why KRS-ONE identifies such corporate entities as “oppressors” – as you are so quick to mention.
Do you not understand now why such anger would exist in the hearts and minds of the youth? Perhaps you need to live the experience of a youth that embraces Hip-Hop culture to fully understand what I am saying. Especially ask those who grew up embracing Hip-Hop culture during the crack filled 80s what their views regarding the government were (and most likely still are). It has only been recently that we have been targeted by more “liberal” factions of U.S. politics to, for the first time, vote in a presidential election just as the Kennedy Administration targeted highly neglected African-Americans to vote for the first time (in a long time) in the 1960s. Your slanderous and abominable statements about KRS-ONE sharply resemble the way the media has historically repeatedly lashed out against African-American leaders, such as Malcolm X and countless others, who have spoken on what have been considered unexplored realities to white America.
As a note, I am certain that the anger among the Hip-Hop youth is destined to get worse once they realize fully how they are being targeted to be sent and slaughtered in a war that most do not agree with. Just take a look at where the armed forces is advertising: on BET during Rap City, in The Source and XXL Magazines; presenting the armed forces as being a party-filled experience where all the guys are rich and all drive wrapped Hummers (you know, the kind that recruiters drive up to inner-city schools in with the intent to attract attention). I don’t see such targeting towards white non-Hip-Hop youth on any form of television programming or print media. If you are to expose any scandals (or how your column puts it “gossip”) why don’t you investigate things along the lines of this matter? I am sure the experience will be like opening a Pandora’s box.
In respects to the mention of this country “must commit suicide if the world is to be a better place,” KRS-ONE was in a philosophical sense saying that the negative or “corrupt” characteristics of the United States, both in its foreign and domestic policies, must end. Taking chopped up “tidbits” of what KRS-ONE had to say and twisting them to make it seem as if he is the epitome of evil have me question your motives which may be regarded as “evil” in and of themselves. You alluding that KRS-ONE is opposed to voting is flawed. At his concerts he emphasizes the familiar phrase “Voting is the least you can do” to show and prove the type of power the Hip-Hop community has. You quoting him in saying "Voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption" must obviously be expressed in a totally wrong context.
One final note, just because KRS-ONE is not currently signed to what would be regarded a “major record label,” it absolutely does not mean that his music career is in a “downward-spiraling” motion as you put it. In fact, he has expressed much joy in being free from any corporate entities pinning him down to a recording contract. Anywhere in this country, from what I have experienced and know, he still packs concerts – mainly filled with Hip-Hop youth who are eager to know the truth as he expresses it. His career as a leader and teacher to the Hip-Hop nation is not over. It has just begun. It is not his career that is “bent on self-destruction,” as you put it, but our very lives as Americans if we do not take the time to listen to others with alternative perspectives of reality who seek nothing less than for humanity to be steered on the right path. In fact, for all readers on the internet who have the opportunity to read this and maintain an “open mind” may they “KEEP RIGHT!” I hope that you take this message as serious as many politicians have taken the Hip-Hop community serious in this up-coming election.
If you seek clarification on any of the matters presented above, you may contact me at 305-472-2566 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Trust me. I have much more on my mind to express on this matter and I can share it with you if you so request it. I pray that this message reaches you in the best of health, both physically and mentally to inspire drastic change in your way of thinking. I urge you to repair the damage by publicly apologizing to KRS-ONE and the Hip-Hop community.
Urban America Enterprises, Inc.
Friday, October 22, 2004