Monday, May 04, 2009
It has certainly been a week.
Saturday, I finally realized that I was going to have to publish
my work myself. Don't get it twisted, I am still going to pursue
other avenues, but the resistance that I received with regard to
criticizing art and capitalism confirmed that I was on to something,
and that I needed to create my own lane(s) instead of asking
for someone to let me ride in theirs.
Having had such a writing heavy load the last two
weeks, Gentrification and Asher Roth I am both tired
Asher Roth has provided a kind of needed fodder for me
to talk about race, capitalism and gender
Saturday, S.bot and I started talking about the resistance to my
critique of the white consumption of black death and
corporate rap. Like me, she is a survivor. The South
Bronx's Finest. She was like "Yo, peep Sylvia Rhone,
she came in with a Black face and changed the
the game with regard to boom bap. Oh and peep
Universals assets, Jay Z wasn't endorsing that Darfur
water for nothing." She went on to tell me that Universal's
parent company has other holdings related to water and
purification. I was like word are you trying to get me got"?
I dug around on Wikipedia, and Rhone did play a role in
the elimination of Boom Bap from Elektra. Then I turned
around and Robbie at Unkut posted an interview with
Dante Ross, former A & R at Elektra. I felt like the arch of this
story was pulling me along.
When I received Gordon Gartrell's terse comments
I was like, uhhh, why the anger?
I just couldn't figure out why folks were so resistant
to accepting the fact that corporations play a material role
in shaping our music. They play a material role in shaping
just about everything else in our culture, why should rap music
I asked S.bot, "Am I going to have to make a United Corporations
of Hip Hop chart?" She responded, you can but you might
wanna do it under your pseudonym. I got shook. You know
I'm paranoid. You can't be from Oakland and not be a little 'noid.
We got cointelproed in the 70's. Don't ever underestimate the
power of the Black communities historical memory.
Its our survival 101.
As I contemplated doing a Hip Hop Corporations chart
and essay, I was like, dude, is this gonna be my Jim
S.bot then reminded me of the Incarcerated Scarface's video.
And we began to talk about how when people get a taste
of violence, they develop a bloodthirst, like bleeding in
It's almost like the kids are running towards a fight.
Given the fact that both S.bot and I have lived on blocks that
had Black blood running running the street, the conversation
was both intense, intimate and informative.
After I got off the phone with her, I thought about how
many of the images in hip hop are rooted
in early American stereotypes that are extremely racist.
Black men as thugs, beasts, rapists, animals.
So I sat back and watched all of the Incarcerated Scarface's
videos on Saturday. And I came away thinking,
what do these men, these men who have been stabbed up,
wounded and shot at, these men who have spent , 10, 15,
20 years in prison, I wonder what they think about the
Thug/Pimp/Ho corporate rap music and how it may
influence the young bucks coming up behind them?
I told Birkhold about the resistance to my critique, he read the
comments and was like "yo Ne, you know what you can do, you
can do a historical piece on Rap and Corporations.
Read Jeff Chang's Can't Stop Won't Stop and S. Craig Watkin's
Hip Hop Matters."
I was like "dude first of all I am reading three books
for a post already.I have like four other pieces in the pipeline. A 'Lil Kim
piece I have been itchin' to write, this sustainable green economies
piece, a piece on my problem with white privilege, I'm backed up."
But see, that's the beauty of writing online, the feedback loop
has the capacity to force you to change your game up and be nimble.
The writing, the work, becomes a living breathing animal.
But back to Incarcerated Scarfaces. You see. I am a huge Clipse fan.
I like the Clipse as much as I like Mobb Deep. In my Asher Roth post
I wrote about how things haven't been the same since the "Tree huggin'
bitch" skit on their last mix tape.
Well, this past weekend the Clipse's former manager turned himself in
after having been charged with leading a 10 million dollar drug ring.
Malice of the Clipse, went on to make a video announcing that
how "he has been part of the problem [in rap], but he likes the
foolishness in his rhymes and his music."
Given my corporate rap/Asher Roth last week, I was
curious about how folks wold receive Malice's
statements about not having sold crack in a very long time.
Many people thought that he was coming clean.
Others felt that he was admitting to being a liar.
Personally, I was intrigued by the Don't Trust my Crack Raps
PSA tone of the video. I was kind of ironic. Like an SNL skit.
"Hey kids. Do as I say. Wait, don't do as I say, do as I do. Wait,
just figure out how to separate the fact from fiction."
With the Clipse, Black male masculinity and questions of
humanity on my mind, I had an epiphany today.
I realized that the reason why I write about hip hop the way
that I do, is because I see the people behind the music.
A former supervisor, a lawyer from legal internship that
I had 3 years ago,wrote me a recommendation recently.
He mentioned that one of the reasons why he knew
that I would not be happy with "the law" is that it would
require that I see people only as abstractions, and that
I have a propensity to see the human dimension of
relationships, especially as it pertains to power,
addiction and violence.
I think this is an issue at hand when I write about
hip hop, the white and Black consumption of Black death,
street harassment and Black men and prison.
Where many folks see rappers, victims, kids and race,
I see human beings, humans with agency, humans who will
need to be accountable to one another, if we are to live in
a sustainable democracy.
So yeah. I am tired yet, I have a new perspective. Here's
to embracing independence. Salud.
How you been?
Why is it so hard to accept that our music thuggin'
and mean muggin' faux & real for profit?
Do I have to do a corporations chart to make
this 'ish real? If so, imma need an intern or