Refined and Fly

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Peace! Our beloved Hip Hop has been around for over 30 years and there are many Hip Hop enthusiasts, critics, and supporters who think the foundation has been laid for Hip Hop to have have something to say; that it should be a force to be reckoned with across a global political landscape (today's mathematics..knowledge equality). There are several organizations that are trying to facilitate this process (i.e. HSAN, National Hip Hop Political Convention, etc.) and usher in a new day where Hip Hop can be used as a tool to change our communities. As an artist and community contributer, I tend to generally agree, although I find the manifestation of this concept easier said than done .

Some of us have heard terms like the "Hip Hop Generation," "Hip Hop Politics, and
"Hip Hop Activisim" and there is an assumed meaning of who these titles implicate...folks between the ages of 18-45 who are in some way, shape or form involved with or impacted by the sub-culture of Hip Hop. I personally am of the mindframe that when talking about a National Hip Hop Political agenda to assert upon society, these categories are fairly broad, and can encompasse a variety of people with diverse cultural, social, personal and political worldviews.

Why does this matter?

Glad you asked...

When deciding upon agenda items or issues to agree upon that we as the "Hip Hop Generation" will endorse, with such a diverse body at the table, the challenge will be in forming a consensus. The trend seems to have been that those involved in such initiatives and circles tend to be progressive or liberal leaning, which narrows the playing field. However, what happens when you have a person that is say for instance anti-voucher, pro-life, pro-immigration, and anti-gay marriage. How would they be defined or categorized (could you call them progressive if they are not pro-choice or pro-gay marriage)? When deciding upon a uniform agenda, where do you fit if you agree with some things and not others (and I have seen first hand these kinds of challenges)? I see the importance in coming together across commonalities and breakin' loose on divergent views. Even still, after toiling away to do the meticulous work of creating said agenda, which side do you go to that everyone agrees upon that has enough power to assist the grassroots in actualizing it? I think the most change can happen on local levels, dealing with issues relevant and specific to those residents, and build up from there.

The following is an article that I found on providing an interesting analysis on where the Hip Hop voice was in 2006 politics, and where it should be. Do the knowledge...

Where was Hiphop's Politics in 2006?
By: Hadji Williams

Where in the hell did the hiphop go? Do you know? Do you know? Do you know?
—Freestyle Fellowship

We're halfway thru the Race for '08 and the Democrats just retook Congress plus a few governorships and local juice crews. Bush finally threw Rumsfeld under the bus. Nancy Pelosi is getting her Sherman Helmsely stroll on as the first female Speaker of the House. Obama is sounding more like a frontrunner each week. And if all that weren't enough, the
Dow Jones is gliding over 12,000...

But before they get DJ Shadow on the Fleetwood Mac remix, can somebody tell me where the youth vote and hiphop's politics went? For example:

Arnold Schwarzenegger movie-clichéd and failed-promised his way into a sequel without even a bark from Snoop Dogg. Last year Snoop was about to set-trip on Sacramento calling Schwarzenegger "a racist out to kill Tookie." But with the governorship up for grabs, where were Snoop's "Vote the Tookie-nator out" cries? He hyped his upcoming blue carpet album, his weed stash, and his perennial pimp-hand but not so much as one Snoop DeVille fulla anti-Arnold voters hit the polls Tuesday. But Snoop's not alone…

Why weren't any hiphop and urban artists and celebs out galvanizing their fans around candidates and issues? Bush still hates Black folks, right Kanye? Well if you put as much
energy into the Democratic Party as you do into politicking for worthless awards and media love, we'll get a Black president in '08. Where was L'il Wayne? T.I.? E-40? Nas? Ludacris? Queen Latifah? Were Russell Simmons and the HHAN or the Zulu Nation on anyone's campaign trail? Where was Diddy (besides pushing Play and Unforgivable)? Where was Hiphop's CEO (besides doing HP, Budweiser commercials and working on his new album)?

Davey D and Chuck D aside, why weren't DJs at least needle dropping candidates on their radio shows and mixtapes? (Politicians have budgets, too. Or do y'all only take payola
from labels?)

Where were was And-1? (Mudslinging and double-dribbling mix!) Where was Marc Ecko? BET? Radio One? Clear Channel? Where was MTV? (Too many videos block your political agenda?) Where was Jacob, the jewelers, the fashionistas and all the rest who claim the hiphop and urban communities when it's profitable/cool?

Hey Graff writers: Not one train, not one wall, not even a sidewalk was burned with an issue-based or candidate-driven piece?! Not even a t-shirt! What, elections ain't "street"
enough for y'all?

As for the masses: we can spit BIG and Tupac's catalogs bar for bar but can't name our own alderman, senator or congressperson. We know when Hov's album is dropping but
can't find the polling centers in our own neighborhoods. We follow America's Next Top Model and American Idol but not issues. We're on top of latest slang and trends but not with how our reps vote on major policies and issues. We lean on Talib, Nas, and Immortal Technique, and John Stewart for political insights but ignore the folks in office. We'll pay for concerts and X-Boxes but won't hit free public forums and public hearings held by our city and state leaders, or meetings by our local DNC, RNC, and Third Party chapters. Then we wonder why, for example, they ignored our political gatherings?

I was at this summer's HHPC, by the way. It was a nice, well-run event but as LB—my activist friend from Boston said on Day Three: "Hadji, I'm 38-year-old Black Lesbian. Hiphop doesn't really embrace me anymore, so I came for the politics. I don't see much politics here.")

Conversely, from Barbra Streisand to Madonna to George Clooney to Bono to Moby to the Dixie Chicks to Toby Keith to Jeff Gordon to Howard Stern to Susan Sarandon, etc. White
artists and celebs can't wait to rally for candidate or a cause. Consequently, the DNC and RNC bend over backwards for `em. (And like I told y'all years ago in "Hiphop Voting Block?
It's a Rap," quit letting their hipster posturing fool you—those fake White Liberals only care themselves, not communities of color. "Vote or Die" was nothing more than a Rock the Vote remix. Suckas.)

In the end, politics ignores the hiphop community because hiphop ignores politics. The biggest conspiracy at work these days is: You Don't Care + You Don't Vote = You Don't Matter. Speaking of which…


Every special interest group has a platform—a fairly galvanizing stance on an issue(s). Successful groups have one or two key issues, some do three or four. For example:

The NRA's trigger happy: Every "law abiding citizen" over the age of 18 should have as many guns as they want long as they're registered, holstered and the owner gets safety training. Period. And because baring arms is #2 in the Constitution the NRA is pro-
Constitution, as in "Don't change it and interpret it as is." They're also pro states' rights.

The NRA focuses on specific issues relevant to their communities. They translate `em into clear actionable agendas and identify candidates they will vote for/vote against. They follow up in regular meetings. They lobby their federal, state and local leaders for influence and don't stop until somebody listens. Every special interest group—the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons), NOW (National Organization of Women), PETA,
unions, etc. all roll the same way.

Hiphop must do the same. Hiphop must galvanize around (no more than five) key issues, reach a consensus; make it known to the DNC and RNC and our government leaders at every level. Then we must vote, back candidates and lobby leaders accordingly. Only then will major parties and media outlets take the hiphop and urban communities seriously.

(And quit saying politics is "too political" for you. Yes it's political, that's why it's called "politics"! The music industry is political but we'll shoot each other and sell our souls for a platinum plaque. Yet politics is "too political" for you? Stop whining!)


I don't care which issues Hiphop builds on, but HOT 97's play list, Tupac's legacy, the Boulè/the Illuminati/Trilateral Commission, or anything that "Stop buying it/Stop watching it" can fix had better not be any of `em. Here's a couple thought starters:

WAR ON TERROR. With Saddam about to get Silverado'd (a fair trial followed by a first class hangin'), should we bring the troops home and send a smaller hit squad for Bin Laden and
Al Queda? Do we invade North Korea? Iran? Saudi Arabia?

ABORTION: Is Hiphop Pro-Life or Pro-Choice? Under what circumstances (if any) would we support/deny an abortion?

EDUCATION. Should a quality K-12 education to be a Civil Right that's amended into the Constitution? How about a college education? Should our schools be funded by local, state,
and federal budgets? Or should they be like businesses with a free market model (i.e. you get what you can afford)? Is Hiphop pro- or anti-School Voucher?

HEALTH INSURANCE. "Universal" or "You're on your own"? If "universal", then who funds it? (Lottery money? Property taxes? Sales taxes? Higher taxes on the rich and corporations?)

GAY MARRIAGE. Is Hiphop pro- or anti-Gay marriage? Is Hiphop pro- or anti-Civil Union? Is Gay marriage part of the Civil Rights movement (as the gay community contends)?

IMMIGRATION. Citizenship for all, no matter what? Deport and Wall up? Wall on the Mexican border, but not the Canadian? No wall? Prosecute American businesses that use illegals?

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION. If you think Affirmative Action is good stay out of Michigan. AA was put to a referendum on their Nov. 7th's election and Michiganders (those who bothered to vote, at least) banned it. It wasn't close. So AA is an official no-no in Michigan. No more AA in school admissions, business hiring or contracts. (Thanks, Ward Connerly and Jennifer "white-woman-who-was-waitlisted-as-1100-lesser-qualified-whites-were-admitted-ahead-of-me-and-I've-blamed-black-people-ever-since-but-don't-call-me-
a-bigot" Grantz.) Anyway…

Lookit: 2008 is right around the corner. The White House, the Senate plus numerous local and state seats will be up for grabs. And with so many critical issues affecting our communities, hiphop needs to be a factor. But as it stands, I believe we're just too segregated in our needs and concerns to unify around issues and candidates. And as individuals I question whether or not enough folks care enough to really get involved.

I maybe wrong, but this much is certain:

If we don't change now, the +80 million 18-45 year old Black, Hispanic, Asian and Whites who consider ourselves to be part of America's hiphop community will go ignored, taken
for granted, and hustled by those who voted, organized and took this process seriously. And we'll be stuck with the government that we deserve.

Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE (2006) and KNOCK THE HUSTLE: VOLUME 2
(Spring 2007). (E): * *


  • At 6:07 PM, Blogger DA said…

    Medina; I'm trying to learn more about the 5%. Could you drop me a line at your conveniance, either or ? Thanks in advance.


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