D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Friday, June 04, 2004

Political Hip Hop Convention ...

In a recent editorial release from the Black staff, they raised one of the more interesting arguments concerning the surging infusion of politics and Hip Hop culture. It follows:

"The establishment of a highly organized political front by a unique and universal cultural art form gives us serious pause. You don't think it should? Such thinking threatens to create an atmosphere of expressive filtration - if the world of hip hop has a political agenda, then Artist X's lyrics are, over time, forced to ultimately conform to the evolving hip hop 'party line.' If not, Artist X may face exile from the 'hip hop community' - however that's defined. Suddenly, all the social, political and activist messages in hip hop sound the same. We'd be curious to see if 70 percent of hip hop consumers (middle class White teens, college students and graduates) are included in this political collective."

As we touched on in Confluence last week, there are so many vague intentions for this supposed Hip Hop political movement that many are still in the dark on just what they intend to do. How inclusive is it when a majority of the speakers and acts featured in the panel discussions and entertainment portions for the upcoming Political Hip Hop Convention are mostly Black? How can you have so many of the usual set of suspects talking the same thing with what will be an unmistakable lack of policy focus? This isn’t meant as a slight to the convention’s efforts, but there lacks a true balance in political philosophy. Many of the speakers and panelists are hard driving liberals as if to say moderates and conservatives can’t enter the “cipher," so to speak. There isn’t one speaker listed (in my view of it) that will offer countering thoughts and is that truly going to advance this progressive ideal?

Simply put, it can’t be this one-sided banner movement. When can the White b-boy or Asian b-boy and b-girl start to feel like this message speaks to them? Of course, we’re jumping the gun because the convention hasn’t started yet and it may march to a very successful drum. That is still a hope I share with everyone involved. My fear is this sort of political marginalization will invite an ultra-liberal slant and becomes a type of reverse commercialism. As if we’re packaging this Hip Hop and politics movement like it’s the next fly ride or fresh new kicks in the hood.
As the Black piece goes on to illustrate in the last paragraph in its Hip Hop Appreciation week section, the people we’re left to begin and hopefully carry on this tradition exist in these hallowed halls of the Black intelligentsia – but are they up to creating the necessary tenets of the agenda? Just because you can quote a 2pac lyric and possess a doctorate in African-American Studies does not mean I should buy into your ideal for a bold, new and politically-charged Hip Hop America. These professors, academics and supposedly well-meaning blowhards have questionable credentials in the vocation of Hip Hop. That’s where young people should question this movement. If the union between two very multi-faceted and diverse entities such as politics and Hip Hop is to work, the torch-bearers had better be prepared to offer more than what’s been given already.

Policy over politics; I like the sound of that.

Check out these two sites:

Both sites are owned and operated by Cedric Muhammad and Yvonne Bynoe repectively. They'll both be panelists and moderators for this year's Political Hip Hop Convention.


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