Refined and Fly

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I was recently on a list serve and the topic of discussion became Mos Def, and his apparent inconsistencies (Katrina Klap video and him being a "conscious" artist, but he is in court for a lack of child support being paid...he paid $8,000 instead of his agreed upon $10,000 per month for two children). For all those who think that Hip Hop artists, specifically deemed by some consumers as "conscious" (I place it in quotes becuase I don't favor the term, although it is most recognized) should be flawless, here is a little food for thought.

Hip Hop Artists are primarily just that...artists. They don't make movements, they make music. Some may make contributions and grind in the community along with their music and some do not. People do what they can and are willing to do. You aren't going to see you favorite musician as the Executive Director of a community based organization because their primary job, as they have chosen, is to make music, and without that, we wouldn't know they existed. Some live the life that they speak of and some do not. Due to the entertainment value and capital music raises and the commodity it has become, people can put all kinds of messages out there regardless of how they actually live, so why depend on them when artists have been known throughout time to be inconsistent and for some, they do and say what is necessary to make a dolla?

I am not saying not to hold artists accountable, but 1) these inconsistencies are subjective, based on every individuals definition and personal experience of what consistency means; and 2) There are way more influential people to hold accountable who control the distribution of resources. We shouldn't hold them to standards any higher than our local politcians and others in a position of power. They are seen as inconsistent by many as well. We shouldn't hold them accountable to any standards higher than what we set for ourselves.

On the flip, you can look at someone like David Banner. Say what you want about his music but he and his people created a foundation for Katrina survivors (not that that's the end all be all but it's something concrete). Or T.I. who has used some of his money toward housing development for residents in his area. On another note, look at Lil Wayne's song "Georgia Bush" about George Bush and Hurricane Katrina...more people may hear that one drop of "consciousness" because more people (specifically youth) are in to Lil Wayne than Mos Def, and that song may reach the people Mos Def can't reach and expose them to different ideas.Some of these artists may not always have the message "conscious" people want but some are doing something tangible to assist people. Would you rather have the person with the "right" message or someone who's doing the "right " thing? Pick your poison cuz for Hip Hop in 2006, you ain't gonna always get both.

It is something to say for the lack of at least recognized leadership if folks are looking to musicians to spark and maintain change. It is something to say when musicians and people in entertainment are many children's biggest role models. That speaks to a lack of alternatives being brought to their attention due to various reasons and something is wrong with that picture and we are in trouble. Artists like Mos Def add to the diversity (or lack thereof) of music that people have access to on a mass level (cuz there are a lot of "conscious" artists out there that many folks have never heard of). I do not rely on or expect anything out of Mos Def or artists like him or unalike him.

Their music at best provides powerful inspiration for folks to continue to work for change and may provide a certain level of public affirmation for those who think similarly, and may assist some people in changing their minds and their reality. However, he is a musician that projects his thoughts and ideas, according to where he's at at the many other artists...and that opens the doors for what some may see as inconsistency (a person may be in a different space socially, culturally, mentally today than they were 5 years ago...were you the same as you were 5 or 10 years ago?). Music compliments and may be the heartbeat of a movement, but it is not the movement itself.


I Medina Peaceful Earth


  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger Eboni Joy Asiatic said…

    FOR REAL... too too true Queen! I woulda liked to see this posted on the PQ group... hint hint ;) ... I dropped a build similar to yours some years back actually. So of course, I couldn't agree more... "conscious" artists make music to move to as we the people spark the revolution. The music is not the revolution itself. Human error and flaw is not beyond any of us... and the gumption to hold musical artists to the esteem of revolutionary martyrs (Allah the Father, Fred Hampton, Marcus Garvey, El Haj Malik Shabazz, Kwame Nkurmah, Kalid Muhammad... and the list can eternally continue) is absolutely absurd. Thanks for dropping this and telling it like it is (at the least, how I see it!).

    Peace Earth!
    Eboni Joy Asiatic Earth


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