But despite (or due to?) the giddiness surrounding the man right now, Chucky D (he swear he’s nice) pens a nice little dose of realism for Young H.O. as he enters his presidency, and what it means to the Hiphop world…
(as seen over at fatlace)
Writing this days before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, it struck me we had a double remembrance day of sorts, with Dr Martin Luther King €™s birthday holiday on January 19th this year, and the inauguration the following day. These two days ring special to me, though this ring has been tainted.
Some years I don €™t make resolutions: rather, I opt to make a plan. Entering 2009 has led me to reposition myself in regard to the notion of dealing with the €˜truth €™. Saying and telling the truth seem to have been things many of my black American-born people have side-stepped these past 15 or 20 years, for the sake of maybe not being accepted into white American mainstream society – which translates into simply not being popular. I would say that the €˜truth €™, in many cases, simply is the truth and not subject to interpretation. It belongs to everybody and not just anybody. Here €™s my take, as a black man nearing the half-century mark, who €™s seen and heard much in his time, and who €™s been fortunate to have listened to many who have told me their experiences before my time.
Just on the man tip alone, my father, grandfathers, uncles, fathers of friends, father-in-law and many a male voice that has reflected their lives, opinions and times have all bent my ear and thus brain in a way that has prepared me for being twisted by the lies, hype, and myths that corrupt and damage the masses of people who look like me. That part of me ain €™t never changed, and is never gonna change. There €™s been times that I €™ve been silent because I €™ve been taught to let others speak, as if recognizing we are all in this together. But sometimes I forget that not everyone comes from the same dynamic that molded my senses in the first damn place, and thus that is the time to speak: to put the nonsense in check before it becomes €˜common nonsense €™ – something that those that knew better would endorse to wipe out what was left of €˜common sense €™ in the Clinton €™90s.
I have been asked my opinion by many media across the planet about what I think regarding Barack Obama, just like they €™re asking droves of people across the board in sports, entertainment, life itself. Some even connect some of the hysteria to some degree of separation, like Barack and Michelle €™s first date seeing Spike Lee €™s Do the Right Thing. OK. Or some people say that the impact Public Enemy made gave the sort of possible inspiration any black person in the late €™80s and early €™90s could not avoid, like maybe the Jordan Bulls or something. Again, OK. While half-agreeing to some of this pop culture residue PE left in our impression, the fact is that our music was manifold: in it we were fighting for equal legitimacy for rap music and hip hop; rebelling against one-sided government policies whether it was R&B (Reagan and Bush) or Margaret Thatcher; speaking out about an imprisoned South African – Nelson Mandela; kicking against the Berlin wall; combating a world history of black diaspora slavery and oppression; blasting the one-sided racist coverage and policies of New York; and many other things that required a mind and brain to go with some voices on top of some funky James Brown shit.
I know President Barack Obama remembers that standard being inspirational in rap music. As a grown man meeting his future wife, Fight the Power could €™ve meant many things, but we know this for sure: it wasn €™t an embarrassing aspect of culture for this grown man to take inside of himself for possible mental, maybe physical, energy. This wasn €™t for kids, though, unlike today €™s hip hop, where you have the stupidity of 40 being the next 30 being the next 20, feeding and pimping off young audiences like a virtual paedophile. Even though he might say Jay Z and Kanye are on his iPod, and The Fugees and Lauryn Hill are in his rap heart, he doesn €™t have to say, nor state, that Public Enemy is somewhere in the back of his mind or even in his soul. He doesn €™t have to mention it. It would be redundant. He doesn €™t ever have to mention that he was inspired by Minister Farrakhan €™s inspirational Million Man March in 1995; doesn €™t even have to say he was there. His STANDARD does all the talking in the world. He is entering the terrordome, and he is ready to deal.
Yes, the terrordome, for real: a hot seat that no other black man in the universe can relate to. The pressure will be either coal-crushing or diamond-making. He can handle it. He €™s made for it. And ready for it. But who is ready for him? The STANDARD is high because the STAKES are, like De La said.
I was commissioned by HIPHOP.COM to write my opinion as an international voice. I figure both my experience and standard in the rap music end, and my being a black man near 50, would rank as qualification here. Older than Barack by a hair, I would understand his timeline. Knowing those places he €™s been – from Chicago, Hawaii and Wichita to Africa – would give me a sense as well. Having integrated hip hop in my soul from 1975 to right now allows me to speak here. With all that said, like I €™ve pointed out in other pieces and interviews, for the first time if I was ever to meet the man I would salute him proudly and call him MR PRESIDENT sir, and not feel an ounce of disappointment saying it – all the while knowing he is in a position to make decisions that will batter some black individualism. Who said that the individual needs to stand out beyond the team anyway, other than in terms of self-accountability and responsibility? This is a test and a chance for the black community to use this collective to connect and unite and look within – the chance for the black and the brown to connect, then the like-minded to come together and truly figure how, starting from a possible new America, the human can finally be €˜in €™.
Knowing that this is an opportunity to liquidate €˜inspiration €™, I know that President Obama is not the messiah nor savior for a €˜race €™. He is the President of the United States, for the United States: a United States taking a desperation hurl to place itself up as being the Tiger Woods of nations. He will make decisions that will both make me clap and wince, some of it at the same time. So this is a time to pay attention, and hang on to the €˜truth €™ as much as possible. This also means telling the truth amid the blizzard of lies, and against the hyping that drives the intelligent and the knowing to the point of silence. We are entering a time where talk will be very cheap and no excuses will or should be the rule.
I understand I might be called a hater here: I will wear the badge then, because it €™s easy to hate something that shows the people no love. I would rather be hated for what I am instead of loved for what I €™m not. But in this case, if you don €™t stand for something you fall for anything: and hip hop has fallen because of negligence and somebody kicking its class down a corporate American staircase.
What does the arrival of Obama do for hip hop? What do I think? Well, no more excuses for the lies and the liars who have deceived the public into believing much of the negative stigma and hype that gets attached to black people. Hip hop €™s standards in integrity, respect and truth took a wrong road. The art form followed the downward spiral of entertainment, or maybe entertainment followed it in the marketing sense, where you can always market negative aspects of a people who have been downtrodden. In the early rules of hip hop, the participants €™ collective thinking always meant that you knew that there were taboo areas to trek into, thus cats always wanted the tree to grow and the branches to spread when they were fed. This individual-centered greed was prevalent in the €˜get mine €™ 1990s, aka the terrordome. Forget a standard, it was said.
It could €™ve started when rap still didn €™t have the black industry or the social backing in the €™80s as being legitimate. The collective silence and inability to say anything in the music could €™ve happened after watching an anti-Semitic attachment being applied to PE in 1989-1990, thus scattering anyone black from that point approaching any truths or debatable facts about white folks and their business or social/historical behaviors toward black people. It has been hysterical to witness the amount of €œbitch €, €œho €, €œnigger € uses, drug gaming, gang shootings in the last 15 years promoted in rap, as opposed to any rapper saying the words €œwhite €, €œcracker €, €œkike €, €œJew €, while at the same time being contracted and working under corporations dominated by members of those constituencies. At the very same span the individual money rose on the bloodshed through a Clive or an Iovine, into the spooks of the negro hands, to eventually bling the culture out, and to say little of redeeming worth and value. Damned be the negro intellectuals and journalists who co-signed a lifestyle of downwardness in their one-sided biased coverage that they judged as hip and mistakenly added hop to it. I remember certain writers from different cities falsely locking into a New York state of mind or a California love and calling it by the standards that those cities €™ corporations set. Black radio has failed terribly just chasing the falling dollar. EmpTy V, Viabomb and BET has been a joke, a Booty En Thug fish-tank that would be made more telling by turning the volume down and just flashing the images: images transmitted across to Obama €™s Kenya, only to have somebody in Nairobi scream out €˜Yo my nigga €™ in sick so-called love.
The President Barack Obama and his family will hopefully set a precedent: because many like myself are tired of rap fronting and not saying what it really believes. God, family, seeds, love, hood, moms, and loyalty is always coming out of the mouths of many, until the mixing of money. I remember cats in London and Philadelphia being transformed into a €™90s New York mentality, only because the culture was falsely magnified from major labels there who worked to squash all other voices, styles and forms of hip hop from other places. The female voice and opinion in rap was diminished, although the body was used and abused with collective silence amongst the violence.
With all of this said, even today, in the shadow of these dual days for black inspiration, we have groupings of people flocking to the theatres to catch the Notorious B.I.G story: a story of the tragic result of a brilliant kid raised in a supportive West Indian protective way, who gets social props for being the black nigger America wanted. A loss of a great potential, but at the same time, very little inspiration other than to stay far away from the radiation which that lifestyle emits. President Barack Obama is an inspiration to the rest of the planet, especially to those feeling disenfranchised in their second and so-called third world situations. But to the black diaspora this is really B.I.G. – beyond the movie and the rapper. This is reality. A new standard can be recognized here.
The excuses are over. Those in this human race who are not considered black that say they love hip hop should recognize the legacy of the people largely exploited through the negative portals of this music. We will soon see if all this support at hip hop €™s magnified worst will be backed up when it takes the positive route. When the standard of black people is raised it €™s interesting how the western world gets nervous. This has held true about the continent of Africa and its independence. What attitude will come with the standard being raised with black folk in America, as they act upon President Obama €™s inspiration?
And so to the last question: will the black American rap and hip hop world re-emerge with the knowledge, wisdom, understanding, class and respect of its President and awake from its €™sleep rapnea €™?
We will see.
We will hear.