Hip-Hop Fridays: The Dummyfying of Hip Hop America by Min. Paul Scott
I used to wonder why the rappers with the extensive vocabularies, you know the ones who could make a trip to the grocery store sound "deep", were no longer played on the radio: the Rakims, KRS-1s and the Big Daddy Kanes. I figured that they just fell off and were in a Rappers’ Retirement Home somewhere or people just weren’t feeling them anymore. But then reality hit me in the head and I began to compare their records with the stuff that the video shows and radio stations are playing today and began to see a sadistic plan in place to lower the IQ of Afrikan people.
I remember back in my school days, before I got out of bed in the morning I would play "Ain’t No Half Stepping" or "My Philosophy" on my boom box to get myself motivated to face the world another day. Before I had to do a presentation before the class, somehow listening to "Follow the Leader" on my walkman made me less nervous on my way to school. The lyrical flow of these brothas seemed to add an extra kick to my otherwise humdrum English Lit. report, even though the teacher would frown at me when I would end my presentation with a loud "PEACE É and I’m outta heeeeere!"
But the Hip Hop world is very different now and most of the lyrics of today make me want to take a sip of a 40 oz., get back in bed and sleep until Rap City comes on.
I once heard of a book that told of a diabolical plot by the media to lower the IQ of the American public. While this may sound a little farfetched, or the view of someone who had too much to drink while he was watching the Matrix, when you put that conspiracy theory in the context of Hip Hop it becomes more believable.
The power of "the WORD" has long been revered by our Afrikan ancestors. They understood that in the tongue lies the power to build or destroy, to give life or pronounce death, to reveal the TRUTH or deceive with lies. So there is power in the WORD (KNOWLEDGE) and a people who lose respect for KNOWLEDGE are doomed for destruction.
This is why it is disturbing to see how corporate America has misused "the WORD" in an attempt to Hip Hopnotize a whole generation into thinking that reading anything other than the Source is against some unwritten Rap Code of Conduct.
It is no secret that historically, Afrikan people have had their history "jacked" (stolen for those who are not down with Hip Hopology) the details of this grand larceny have been hidden from us, so most of the younger generation think that we have never created anything that wasn’t for the entertainment of White folks and the reason why so many brothas are in jail is because "that’s just the way real Niggas roll" without putting it into an economic, social and political context. During the 19th century, being able to read was punishable by death. In the 20th century, being well read puts you in the "uppity nigger" category and even today a group of brothas discussing anything other than who won the Monday Night Football game is considered a threat to White supremacy.
But the oppressor knows that TRUTH crushed to the ground will rise again and no lie can last forever (as Dr. King said). So the trick today is to fill the heads of the youth with so many lies that most will not recognize the TRUTH, even when it is staring them in the face and even if they do recognize the TRUTH, to program them to reject it, if it does not fall within the borders of what corporate America defines as what is or is not Hip Hop.
Hip Hop at its best, especially on an "undaground" level, is producing some of the most well thought out breakdowns of the problems facing the world in 2002, but commercial Hip Hop at its worst promotes anti-intellectualism and convinces the younger generation that if you make any statement besides "youknowwhatimsayin" then you ain’t represent’n tha hood. The art of communicating our thoughts has been the main casualty of THUGGISM.
While the poetic words of Paul Lawrence Dunbar "we wear the mask, the grins and lies" spoke of the double consciousness that many Black folks have had to possess in order to survive in a society dominated by racial stereotypes, in Hip Hop it can be said that we wear the mask that frowns and spits gangsta lyrics.
The problem is that this iron mask comes with a bandana and padlock and is almost impossible to take off when you have been wearing it for too many years.
With all of the resources available to them, this generation has the potential to be among the most brilliant minds that have ever walked the planet. But this potential has been sabotaged by corporate America.
The entertainment industry tells the youth that all they need is "Street Knowledge," which will enable them to have girls, cars and lots of platinum chains and will ultimately enable them to rule the world in the name of Hip Hop.
As much as I want to keep the FAITH, I am quickly thinking that "The Thug who Sat by the Door" theory is nothing but a fairy tale. Too much time has been wasted and too much Black blood has been spilled to keep me believing that within the well guarded and locked down entertainment industry, there is a secret organization of gangsta rappers who are pimpin’ the "system" and will one day, armed with the money they have earned and Street Knowledge,take off their masks and reveal themselves as the saviors of Afrikan people. It is possible, however, that the masses of fed-up Black people can put so much pressure on the gangstas that it will force them to at least sound like militant revolutionaries. The elders tell me that the groups of the 1960s, who said it loud that they were Black and Proud, only did so because the masses demanded it.
There is a war going between the oppressor and the oppressed for the minds of this generation and the ones who are victorious will be the ones who want it the most.
We must represent Black Consciousness as hard as the youth represent Hip Hop. As the great Funk philosopher George Clinton once said, we must program, deprogram and reprogram.
Like an old science fiction movie, there is always a word (symbolic of a divine TRUTH) that snaps a victim out of hypnotic trance and those of us in the struggle for the survival of Afrikan people will not rest until we find it!
Min. Paul Scott is founder of the Durham, N.C.-based New Righteous Movement. He has also launched the National Hip Hop Reformation Campaign. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Min. Paul Scott
Friday, October 4, 2002