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

Friday, August 20, 2004

Hip Hop & Politics: The Movement Needs Polish

At last, I’m not the only person who realizes what kind of moron Hans Zeiger painted himself to be. Jason Alston, a fine writer for the Daily Dispatch of North Carolina, points out in his latest link just how bigoted and callow Mr. Zeiger is. I’m proud to note that I’ve linked Alston’s work previously for my blog and he’s by far one of the more impressive writers on the subject of Hip Hop and politics out today. It’s always good to know that we have folks who choose to represent all sides of the spectrum and not what has been sensationalized or demonized beyond repair.
For the last four years, the Hip Hop political avalanche has been lumbering ahead full steam and, of course, with young black voters there exists this need to connect with them on their level. The attempt to do so is sometimes ham-handed because not every young black person enjoys rap music; it isn’t the only music of choice amongst young people. It also takes hits in the creativity department. How many Rap/Rock The Vote-like organizations need to pop up before it becomes too saturated and watered down? This isn’t a knock to the efforts of Hip Hop influenced political action committees and their ilk, but is it truly a case of too much too soon? In 2000, as high as the stakes eventually became, it didn’t seem to have this urgency. Then again, we didn’t have this current administration.

An analysis from Askia Muhammad of the Final Call speaks about new black leadership. The hallmark of the Democrats is that they are made up of a large number of minority voters. Of course, this immediately links them with any progressive organization with black figureheads (i.e. Russell Simmons’s HSAN group). I’m not sure whether it’s bad or good – I’m most concerned with people learning what the electoral process is. If that means Ludacris and the Rap The Vote gang got someone registered, it’s a win for everyone. Still, we need to teach the refrain that it goes way beyond just voting. We have to get folks active, too.

Adisa Banjoko, a Bay-area based journalist, just penned a new book on Hip Hop culture and politics. Hopefully this will be a start in the right direction for the infusion of the two very varied entities. Many authors are attempting this style of book – we can only hope Mr. Banjoko’s release will do the culture and the various themes throughout politics some justice. I’m always afraid of these sorts of book releases because at the end of the day, it’s still a business venture. I don’t doubt or question the author’s sincerity – I’ve exchanged e-mails with him in the past. I’m just very aware of how this could turn out. I want to be proven incorrect.

Jimi Izreal of definitely hits the nail on the head in his article on young voters and the Hip Hop selling point, perhaps more so than I ever have on this blog column. It may read harsh but it is beyond necessary. In Aaron McGruder’s latest Boondocks strip entry, it touches on this very issue in three short black and white frames. So perfectly illustrated, so sadly true. We need more than slogans; we need informed leaders that both have the energy and connection with the people. Otherwise, it all just sounds like dead air.


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