Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Hip Hop Isn't That Political After All: Part I.

TwitThis




Hip Hop isn't that political after all.

You may think that its political, but guess what? It's just music.

Those of us who ARE into "political" hip hop are not learning
anything new from the music that we listen to. If anything
it affirms what we already know. It's confirms our existence
by reminding us that, while we aren't the most mainstream of cats,
there are folks, artist, that think like us as well.

Dead Prez.
De La.
Mos.
The Roots.

In fact, hip hop is so apolitical that Kanye saying
"George Bush doesn't care about Black people"
constitutes BEING political.

How can that be?

Yes, he was speaking from his heart.
Yes, he had a lot to loose.

But BEING political.

The Montgomery Bus Boycotts were political.
The Freedom Rides were political.
The Abolition Movement was politcal.

Hip Hop, while it has ton's of potential,
while it has a global impact, while it allows people
to unite who would never
be in the same room together is, as we stand today,
is JUST music.

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I mentioned this idea a week or so ago
to Filthy and promised that I would write
about it.

So, here we go.

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19 comments:

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

you are right, its reall another form of the kkk and materialistic

Capital P said...

I don't agree that Hip Hop is "another form of the kkk" - I do agree that it tends to be materialistic - but you're right, M. Dot, it's just music. Hip Hop is a big assed contradiction.

And I love it.

But the thing people need to realize is that Hip Hop is no different than anything else in our society, specifically because of its contradictions.

Think about it...

Awards are given for "artistic achievement" (Grammy, Oscar, Tony, etc.) Yet, whose to say your artisitic endeavor is better than mine?

Presidential candidates vie for the votes of citizens, pledging to change the current state of the nation; yet, when elected, none of the laws enacted, bills signed, directives pushed through, actually help those that most need it.

Being political and making politically inspired statements are two totally different things.

N.W.A. wasn't being political when they amplified the first amendment. They were just saying what they felt. Same for B.D.P., same for P.E., same for Geto Boys, same for Talib, etc.

If you want to be political, get a law pushed through. Get a bill passed. Stump for a particular cause.

But giving out toys in the hood doesn't make you political. Hell, it doesn't even make you socially aware.

Kanye isn't a political cat. He just knows what's going on.

No, if after he said "Bus doesn't care about Black people," he followed that with "So I'm announcing my candidacy for President" then Yeezy will have entered the political stage.

neo said...

I agree with the blog entry.

Hey fam, could you please respond to my email? I sent you something over on m.dotwrites.

gumshoe said...

I rarely watch TV (the one I have has been broken for almost 2 years) but I happened to have my television on at the time of Kanye's moment, and had just walked into the room when Mike Myers began to speak. I stopped because i immediately noticed how nervous Kanye seemed.

Then he began to speak.

I was stunned. As soon as I finished laughing like a maniac at the juxtaposition of Chris Tucker bug-out and recovery and Kanye's ballsiness. I immediately starting cheering, calling folks into the room, and rewinding (thank you Tivo).

I think all music is implicitly political. Hip-hop especially, because of the nature of its genesis, its tradition of community activism and civic engagement, and the political nature of many of its messages. M.DOT, I think many people learn new things from hip-hop. I think it happens all the time.

This definition of political is admittedly broad: everything is political. Is this such a useless way of thinking about the consequences of the choices we make, artistic or otherwise? *Not acting* doesn't make you not political, it makes you someone who implicitly supports status quo. That's political. To function in a political system is political.

But Kanye used the access that hip-hop gave him to bring his politics to another, far bigger, arena. Bigger than hip-hop...

Kanye *represented for* hip-hop.

To be honest, I am surprised that clip is even available on youtube. I remember thinking at the time that he was taking a big risk. That was the day I became a fan of Kanye's. Lifetime pass from me.

-Gumshoe

Model Minority said...

you are right, its reall another form of the kkk and materialistic
======

DAMMMMN.

I don't know about all that. Geesh.

Model Minority said...

Hip Hop is a big assed contradiction.

And I love it.
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Soon as I read this...I hear in my head, "Now I'm realizing that I love 'er..."

Model Minority said...

To be honest, I am surprised that clip is even available on youtube. I remember thinking at the time that he was taking a big risk. That was the day I became a fan of Kanye's. Lifetime pass from me.

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Thats real talk.

I feel the same way about Lauryn.

Shit I am JUST NOW BUMPING some late regis song's.
I go hard for HIM but the music...holds up "iffy" hand.

I mean. The fact that he is dumb passionate and neurotic isn't lost on me. That is one of THE things that I miss about BK.
But at the same time.

It's worth being noted that the Shit that we do in our music DOES NOT constitute being politcal.

Man.
You think this post is cool.

Wait till i bring that Birkhold/Daniel Brooks heat.

All. BAD.

Model Minority said...

M.DOT, I think many people learn new things from hip-hop. I think it happens all the time.
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Real talk.

Learning is cool.
But it ain't inhernetly politcal if you don't use the sh-t to do something else with it.

perhaps I can be of service by using the Blizog to have an ongoing discussion about WHAT constitutes political in, outside, and around hiphop.

Model Minority said...

Neo....I ain't receive nuthing.

Please re-send.

-n.

Stephen said...

I love this post.

Ninoy Brown said...

I hate getting all KRS and shit, but let's remember that Hip-Hop is more than music. I won't even get into the whole played out "elements" jargon, but the fact is that the music is just a part of what Hip-Hop is.

And in terms of being political, if we say that music isn't political, what about the idea of art as a political tool? Can I assume that you would say music is art, and that art has been a means of political expression far before Kool Herc immigrated to America. The cultural elements of politics is just as important the politics themselves, cause just like Emma Goldman, I sure as hell don't want to be part of a revolution where dancing isn't involved. Art and music lifts the soul in ways that lobbying for legislation can't.

Maybe Hip-Hop as a political force may be limited, but it's just as limited as say Gordon Parks was when he photographed Ella Watson with her mop and broom in front of the American flag.

neo said...

Watch out for it, I sent the email to both your addys..

check spam in your gmail in case it gets there...

Model Minority said...

the idea of art as a political tool?
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Art is and can be a political tool.

Yeah.

Ok.

But Political tools don't:
a. raise minimum wage.
b. organize to fund pre k through k
c. Vote against wars in Oil Rich countries.

I am not saying that art and music can't lift the soul.

I would proably, no, I KNOW I WOULD BE A PUDDLE right now without the new Erykah.

But.

I also understand that it is music.

It is not revolutionary.

Fredrick Douglas is Revolutionary.
Toussaint is Revolutionary.
Ella Baker is revolutionary
Sojourner....
Malcom....

Hip hop.....Fun, entertaining, enlightening...But NOT politcal.

Model Minority said...

Blood.
send me your #.

K1NG said...

Domino effect.

Music can make somebody politically aware. Being politically aware can sometimes make someone want to be politically involved. They become politically involved.

If it wasn't for all of the Obama support from people like John Legend and Common, I PROBABLY wouldn't be registered to vote right now. It's not like I knew all of the issues or nothing like that, but I have upgraded my knowledge a bit since this whole primary had begun. Hell. I didn't even know what a primary was til this election.

What if I became president m.dot? Hmmmm? What would you say THEN?!?

Commish CH said...

the followup with Mike Myers and Kanye "bumping" into eachother on Sat Nite Live is another classic.

One.

Model Minority said...

"bumping" into eachother on Sat Nite Live is another classic.
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How you gonna mention that and not put up a laink.

LAME.

el guante said...

This is a topic i keep coming back to in my work. It's just so easy to see and argue for both sides of the coin.

On one hand, people love to overstate the impact that art has on real-life politics, activism and organizing. As if Common spitting a bunch of platitudes about "the struggle" was a revolutionary act. We all know the kid who loves Rage and dead prez and all that but who never goes to meetings or rallies. You're absolutely right when you say that most political hip hop is preaching to the choir and is not actively "doing" much.

On the other hand, though, sometimes i forget the power that music, particularly hip hop, has. It's not so much about the content, but about the social/physical act of being a listener-- engaging in conversations, networking with people and-- for artists-- expressing oneself and building up the courage and self-esteem to get more engaged in other areas.

I just think it's important to see the relationship between hip hop and our vaguely-defined idea of "politics" from a larger perspective. There ARE ways to integrate the two in more meaningful ways-- there just aren't a whole lot of people doing it: fundraisers, media campaigns, benefit compilations, resource sharing... as an artist and an activist, i've tried to do as much of that sort of thing as i can. It just takes a lot more work than writing a song about the revolution.

Great blog, by the way-- i've been reading for a minute but i'm shy with comments.

Illaim said...

It true nobody is truly political unless they take some sort of political action, but could it not be said that music if crafted a certain way that it is also political?

When activist engage citizens during voting drives that is a political action, which might persuade a person to involve themselves in a particular aspect of the political process. When mc’s hold direct conversations with their prospective listeners if the message they convey is of a political nature the have a fair chance of spurring on political action in the once apathetic.

How many people could give a f*** less about there community, events in the nation or the world as a whole then listened to a Black Starr or Immortal Technique album and had that newfound perspective strongly alter their perception and navigation through the world?

I know Death Certificate did that for me.

Yes Hip Hop isn’t that political as a whole, but those that claim as wave that banner proudly are in the trenches Dead Prez etc………(I never saw the Roots or De La as political…we must discuss) and are waayyyyyyyy more political then others are “gangsta”

Yes it was sad to only here Kanye stand up or Papoose and Kweli n Bun make songs…after Katrina and its true as you point out Hip Hop limitless(untapped) potential, but for the small percentage of it that claims to be, it is political.

The “that” is true because most of Hip Hop is sadly still thuggen .


Hip Hop may just be music.. but Being political encompasses a myriad of things which music has often been one of.

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