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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Failure of Hip Hop Journalism

The Failure of Hip Hop Journalism:
Rewritin' Hip Hop History

Paul Scott

To hear some Hip Hop journalists tell it, there was a time when Hip Hop
magazines were the vanguard of the Revolution. Not since David Walker's
"Appeal" were there such powerful writings that shook the foundations
of the system. Some believe that if it wasn't for Hip Hop journalists ,
slavery would have been back in effect after the Reagan administration.

However, contrary to popular belief, the Source was never "The Negro
World" nor was XXL ever the "The Messenger."

This is not to say that Hip Hop magazines have not had their shining moments.
XXL's first couple of issues showed promise that something new might have
been on the horizon and the Source did give the early conscious rappers a voice
in its early years. But that had more to do with the fact that Hip Hop, itself,
was going through a brief conscious era more so than the Source shaping the
direction of Hip Hop. The writers were merely reporting what was happening in
Hip Hop not plotting a new "vanglorious" course.

Today the Source does have a few interesting articles especially in its
"Ear to the Street" section, however, this is an exception to the
rule. For the most part Hip Hop journalists give the same rehashed stories over
and over again regarding beefs, street credibility and the obligatory paragraph
about a rappers love for weed.

The goal of Hip Hop magazines has and always will be to sell subscriptions, not
to lead black folks to the promised land. For the most part, the mission of Hip
Hop journalists has been to give pseudo black culture to mainstream America in
small doses at a time.

In other words, the cat who buys a Hip Hop magazine in 2009, is the same dude
who bought that Alfonso Ribeiro "Learn How to Breakdance" book back
in the day.

This is not to say that the writers of 20 years ago were any different than
most Hip Hop artists whose end game strategy was to gain acceptance by the
mainstream and to prove once and for all that rappers were people, too.

To suggest that there was ever a period when Hip Hop journalists/artists ever
consistently put fighting the power before fighting for profit is a myth that
has been repeated so much that it has become part of the official Hip Hop canon.
Of course, there were some writers who used their skills as tools to empower
the masses. Even today a few still exist such as Davey D and Rosa Clemente,
however they have found ways to move the crowd , mostly, outside of mainstream
avenues. Also, there are a few Hip Hop artists who have used the art to deliver
political commentary to the streets such as Pittsburgh's Jasiri X.

While some would write about "The Poor Righteous Teachers," back in
tha day, few wanted to be one, as assimilation into the mainstream was more
lucrative. This is the true side of Hip Hop journalism that few want to discuss,
therefore we become victims of historical amnesia.

Hip Hop history becomes problematic when, like the rest of American history it
becomes revisionist. Those who are entrusted to record historical events tend to
give themselves or their causes greater roles than they actually deserve.
Therefore, many who see as their crusade to return Hip Hop back to a
"Golden Age" are trying to time travel back to an age that never
really existed to that degree.

If we are ,truly, trying to move Hip Hop forward, we must first dispel the
myths of the past.

First of all, Hip Hop journalism has never been revolutionary in and of itself.
We must remember, as much as we try to extend the time period, out of the almost
30 years since Hip Hop was first put on wax, the period of "conscious Hip
Hop" was relatively short, barely lasting four years. What ever conscious
Hip Hop of that era was, it was not able to engage itself in a protracted
struggle against the powers that be. At best the writers did the best they could
to enlighten the masses within the narrow confines imposed on them by those who
had a vested interest in keeping young urban America in the dark.

While some writers consider themselves "underground Hip Hop
journalists" they face the same contradictions as underground Hip Hop
artists. As Huey P Newton said "movements are driven underground"
through some form of political repression. The writings of true revolutionaries
are quickly labeled as contraband by the oppressors, therefore you would not be
able to buy them for $4.99 at your local grocery store.

We must also remember that conscious Hip Hop began to lose it's
"pro-blackness," as soon as it began to gain acceptance by the
mainstream. What could have been a force to teach unadulterated black
history/culture to the youth soon became just another way for white kids to live
the hood life vicariously through Hip Hop. They could drink of the rivers of
blackness without experiencing the after taste. Although, we may wax nostalgic
about the pro-blackness of the Hip Hop journalists during '88-92, just like
the writers of the Harlem Renaissance , they were never allowed to reach their
full potentials because of the influences of outside forces. (Read "Crisis
of the Negro Intellectual by Harold Cruse.)

Despite all the new prognostications of Hip Hop journalism's sudden growth
spurt into collective maturity since the last election, it still is well below
the intellectual level that it should have reached during its 20 years of
existence . While some refer to the shallowness of today's Soulja Boy -esque
Hip Hop as ring tone music, today's Hip Hop writings can be best described
as "text message journalism." Thus, it has not evolved much from where
it was two decades ago,

Out of all the things Hip Hop magazines coulda/shoulda done to advance the
culture, their crowning achievement was promoting the East Coast/West Coast

If Hip Hop is to move forward the scribes must see the past as its was and not
through rose colored Gazelles

As the saying goes, "those who don't learn their history are bound to
repeat it."

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Truth Live!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Why Sarah Palin Should Scare The Hell Out of You!

When McCain first made this pick, many, myself included, saw it for exactly what it was; a ploy! John McCain decided to gamble and choose an unqualified candidate as his VP pick in hopes of picking up the votes of disgruntled Hillary supporters. They saw the excitement created by the prospects of there being a first Black president and the way people rallied around that. The historical significants of Obama's campaign dominated the media and rallied voter support.

McCain decided to fight fire with fire and say, "So America wants history, America wants change, I'll give it history, and I'll give it change". He then went out and picked Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick, a woman who was unheard of on the political scene, the Governor of Alaska a state that the United States Census list as having a population of 670,053 in 2006. In contrast, Chicago, the state in which Barack Obama was a senator, had an overall population of 2,842,518. This provided white female voters the opportunity to make their own history, they couldn't get Hillary but they could have Palin.

At first I laughed, I thought Hillary voters were way too smart to fall for such a ploy. I mean there are stark differences between the two; Sara Palin is pro-life, Hillary Clinton is pro-choice, Sara Palin is anti sex education and the distribution of condoms to youth, she believes the Iraq war is God's will and was quoted as saying, "Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,"

To my dismay, the Sara Palin pick gave the McCain campaign a boost. His poll numbers went up and he took a lead over Obama among white female voters. In my mind, this really exposed how much this election wasn't about the issues. Her inexperience was largely overlooked for the fact of her being white and a woman. She was hailed as this God loving, pit bull in lipstick, Hockey mom who manages a career in politics and a family of 5 at home. A lot of professional woman identified with her. To protect her, any charges against her regarding her inexperience was hailed as sexism.

Freedom of the press was completely ignored in Sarah Palin's international debut as reporters were bared from attending her meeting and blocked from asking any questions. The Republican campaign likes to spin any remarks made in opposition to Palin as sexism but were reluctant to do so with the comments made by Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, when he made no mention of anything having to do with her politics and instead called her, "gorgeous" and made references to how nice she was. These are comments you make when you meet someones daughter or wife for the first time, not a Vice president. I also found it peculiar that when a handler from Zardari's entourage said they should keep shaking hands for the cameras, Zardari was quoted as saying, "If he's insisting, I might hug" innocent joke or slight pass? What was Palin's response to his remarks? Smile and say thank you.

Senator McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his VP pick should be considered an insult to the intellectual capacity of American women. This woman, Sarah Plain, is nothing more than a Republican puppet. First they had her come out guns blazing bashing Obama on his inexperience and painting herself as this independent thinker. Now it's been pretty much shut up and look pretty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Raped, Tortured, & Murdered; What if it was your daughter?

"Invisible" - Gif (Free Download)
I was riding the train on my way home from school when I came across this article in the Village Voice. The article was about a young black girl by the name of Ramona Moore. This young girl had been kidnapped, repeatedly raped, tortured, and murdered. Her mother called the police hours after she hadn't returned home but was told she hadn't been missing long enough to be reported missing. The officer, against policy, told the woman he would open up a missing persons case if she called back in a few hours, which would have made her missing for the sufficient amount of time. Read More @

Saturday, May 17, 2008

White Man's Justice Black Man's Grief!

Theme Song for this post ITUNES

White Man’s Justice Black man’s Grief; the title of legendary urban author Donald Goings novel pretty much embodies the sentiments that most black Americans have in regards to the American judicial system. Regardless of if we are on trial for murder or on trial for being murdered, it seems the same rules apply; we are, in the eyes of the law, considered guilty until proven innocent. When a police officer guns down an unarmed and, what should be, presumably innocent black man it becomes more of a battle to prove that black man as just that (innocent) than to prove him to be a victim of a murder. For instance: immediately following the shooting of Patrick Dorismond at the hands of undercover police officers, then Mayor Rudolf Guliani elected to release the sealed juvenile delinquency record of Dorismond stating he wanted to showcase that Dorsimond was “no altar boy”. When incidents such as this take place in our communities, often the victims and their communities are the ones placed on trial and not the proposed assailants. When there is no justifiable reasoning for a police officer murdering a black man, the attention often turns to the dangers the officers face patrolling our communities. This is used as a means of validating a pattern of thought that inspires a level of fear that can justify an irrational act, such as unintentionally firing their weapon and plunging a bullet into the chest of an unarmed teen, which was exactly what happened to Timothy Stansberry who was shot dead by a bullet from Officer Richard S. Neri Jr. on Janaury 24, 2004.

The communities are so dangerous that wallets and brushes can be mistaken for guns (Amadou Diallo) the people are so dangerous that an unarmed man can be beaten half to death and still considered a threat by remaining on his feet during the bludgeoning and not collapsing to the ground (Rodney King Jr.). The Sean Bell trial is just a case of the same old same.

The main determining factor in the Sean Bell trial was whether someone stated they were going to get a gun. The officers said they heard someone say they were going to get a gun. The victims said no one mentioned a gun. I was always told there are three sides to a story; your side, my side, and somewhere in between those two sides is the truth. The judge had to look in between the stories of the defendants and the victims and see how much truth lied on either side in order to form a picture of what the truth might actually be. When you’re trying to decide who to believe character comes into question. This is exactly what happened in the Sean Bell trial. The judge called the characters of Trent Benefield, Joseph Guzman, and Sean Bell into question. He used their prior criminal records, for the most part, as a means of discrediting their testimony among other things such as; the $50 million lawsuits that Guzmond and Benifeild have pending as a motive to lie and the environment in which the incident had taken place, which was a strip club under investigation for drugs and prostitution. Is it incomprehensible to believe that, at a nightclub under investigation for criminal activity, an altercation had taken place involving men who were felons convicted of charges such as drug dealing and robbery, which had spun out of control resulting in one of the participants declaring they were going to get a gun? Because the prosecution had to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendants were guilty of unjustifiably firing the 50 rounds that claimed the life of Sean Bell that night. All the defense had to do, was present a case where one could conclude that the defendants were under the impression that there was a gun present at the scene which inspired a pattern of thought that led to the incidents of that night. Unfortunately what had to be proven in the Sean Bell trial was that it was no way humanly possible that anyone could have stated they were going to get a gun during the altercation that had taken place at the strip club that night. The police officers weren’t on trial the victims were, and it was the prosecutions job to showcase the victims as law abiding citizens of the state, who were highly unlikely to act in the manner in which they were being accused of that night.
Every time an incident such as this takes place, the same things become apparent. Blacks in urban communities have been criminalized in the eyes of the justice system and in the eyes of society in general. Statistical data published in newspapers that highlight crime areas where blacks dominate in order to support the idea that blacks are mostly responsible for crime, nightly television news shows that consistently showcase blacks as assailants and suspects in criminal investigations and cases, shows like the wire, movies like American Gangster, rappers like 50cent, all assist in the criminalization of black people. Since the release of the movie Training Day, “This is chess not Checkers” has become a very popular phrase amongst members of our community. I think we’ve been underestimating the extent of truth that statement holds as it pertains to us in white America.

I remember watching an episode of “Tell It like It Is”, which is a show that I catch once in awhile every other Sunday. There was a black woman who stated that blacks seem to have forgotten that they have to be quicker, stronger, faster, smarter, and better, and how it’s always been that way. I think those thoughts couldn’t be more true. It seems we’ve been lulled into a false sense of equality. It seems that the lack of overt racism has had a negative effect on our community causing us to not be as aware of the extent of racism as we should. I’ve seen us come to a point where we’ve contracted the “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” syndrome. I hear us saying, “well, they do it” why we get busted for selling drugs like we do when they don’t and they do it, why we get busted for smoking weed like we do when they don’t and they do it. We don’t accept the responsibility to be smarter or to be better and we don’t feel that we should have to be smarter or be better; we want to be “equal” which raises some doubts on our perception of equality in my mind. Two Words, accountability and responsibility, we can’t support the things that support the ideas, that support and give “justification” to the actions that are taken to erase us off this planet. Anybody that makes it out of our communities and becomes successful and makes a lot of money gets a pass to poison the people. If you criticize them you’re a hater. Well, in the words of my boy K-Swift, if hating drugs and guns in my community makes me a hater, I’ll be a hater. Jay-Z has one of the most successful Hip Hop clothing lines out: Rockawear. How many Rockawear clothing stores in any of our communities are there that any of these kids can go to and apply for a job? The clothes are made, probably in another country somewhere, shipped here, and sold in Macys for a shit load of money for our kids to kill themselves to get the money to buy and get what in return; look fly!? We need to understand the significance of the messages in the imagery when Hip hop artist come on TV to discuss business in a corporate suit and then dress like a member of our community to talk about guns, drugs, and other illegal activity. What we need to do is start taking responsibility for ourselves, because if we don’t take responsibility for ourselves and start changing the view that the world has of us as a people, there won’t be anything that can save us from what they have planned.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton Crying Sexism!

While watching channel 11 News the other night, I saw a report run where Elton John commented, “I never cease to be amazed by the misogynistic attitudes of some people in this country," at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton; blaming sexism as the cause for her trailing Barrack Obama. According to News day, Hillary Clinton reportedly stated on National Public Radio that there’s “a double standard" in the media coverage of the race. A report on quoted Chelsea Clinton stating, "I didn't really get how much sexism there still was in our country until I was at a rally with my mom in New Hampshire, and someone came up to me and said, 'I just can't see a woman being commander in chief,"' during a stop in Research Triangle Park. Is there really sexism in America to such a profound degree that it is affecting Hillary Clinton’s campaign to this extent? Why wasn’t sexism considered as much of a concern to her campaign prior to her trailing Barrack Obama? And if Sexism was such a concern, why would she be considered, and consider herself the presidential front runner?
My assumption is that this is all a desperate attempt to guilt women voters into showing stronger support for her campaign. What she’s trying to say to women voters is: remember that job you didn’t get because you’re a woman, remember that promotion you didn’t get that was given to the guy on your job that isn’t as qualified as you are because he’s a man, remember Anuka Brown? Don’t let me be the next victim, don’t let us keep being the victim, stand up and fight sexism in America, vote for me and show that women in America will not be victims of sexism anymore. I thought this was supposed to be about the issues!

I think about the frowning faces that would have been seen had Barrack Obama been lagging in the polls and attributing it to him being black. I can hear the political pundits now questioning his integrity for “Playing the race card”. They’d probably say, “Just like a black man to cry racism when he doesn’t get his way”. Hillary Clinton is exposing herself more and more throughout the process of this campaign as a candidate that has questionable integrity; lying about ducking gunshots in Bosnia when footage showed her arriving to a peaceful and warm reception, crying crocodile tears in New Hampshire after political analyst suggested she show a more feminine and softer side, and now, in what has become to be recognized as a typical Hillary move, she resorts to playing the “Sex card”. Will she compromise the safety of Americans like she’s compromised her integrity to get her way? If her campaign for the Democratic presidential bid is any indication, I’m not sure I’ll feel too safe with her answering that phone at 3:00 AM in the White House.