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

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Voting Is Cool, Learning Why Is Even Cooler

"I urge hip-hoppers to vote on Nov. 2, but we don’t have anyone to vote for, yet" – KRS-1 at the State Of Hip Hop and Politics forum in Detroit, MI

I apologize to readers and crew but I’m recovering from a knife wound and I haven’t been able to sit in front of the PC to deliver the goods. I’ve been playing catch up on the news and I came across the above quote from the Blastmaster from his visit to Detroit . Interestingly enough, it is a common refrain amongst the apathetic and disinterested. For the latter, I can assume where that feeling stems from: lack of connection. The presidential debates had little connective power with the politically-charged youth movements across the nation. And to be frank, Kerry and Bush gave off about as much heat as dying bonfire. Many of the active Hip Hop heads couldn’t possibly feel as though the president and his opponent are considering their involvement in this November’s critical election. It’s distant and esoteric banter, void of any semblance of passion or measurable focus. This shtick will not fly in four more years; I hopefully dream that many of our more astute minds will have passed on those nuggets of political knowledge to the generations to come.

Well, it’s apparent that not everyone follows Russell Simmons’ flute blindly. A Wisconsin group of protesters was steadfast on holding The Mogul responsible for his newfound political passion and questioning the sincerity of the efforts. Good points are definitely introduced in this article from Dustin Block of The Journal Times. There is an overwhelming national agenda with many of these Hip Hop/Black/Youth voter movements. But there is little discussion on how to maximize the grassroots efforts and resources. As I’ve heartily maintained all my life, politics is much more exciting – and tangible – on a state and local level. That’s where we need to turn all this focus on – the times after the big election.

Is Hip Hop bigger than politics? Sean “P Diddy" Combs seems to think so . I’ve been impressed at how quickly Puffy has followed the footsteps of The Mogul and has made himself at the very least sound like he knows what he’s doing. There will always be a hesitation on my part with Combs (does anyone remember in 2000 when Combs was at a Hamptons voting drive party yet not registered himself?). In fact, I’ll have a decided amount of doubt with any public or famous figure who involves himself in the political process for the rest of my years. This isn’t to say that I don’t want Hip Hop political organizations or youth-centered movements to flourish. What we do at MfA is very much about that so I support the notion. But we cannot be taken for granted in this and every upcoming election from here on out.

As dour as I may sound, I think this piece from Michael Arceneaux shares a sentiment I often echo (and I’m glad I’m not alone): voter education. Even I could stand to brush up on that part of deal so it should be equally stressed as the voting. The bottom line is that we need to involve ourselves totally to this process. Just as we are committed to wearing slick slogan t-shirts and put on concerts, we need to make sure that dedication materializes beyond November 2nd.


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