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

Thursday, June 30, 2005

On: Getting Off One's Own Ass & Getting Involved

Politics and Hip Hop: Mix them together and you get “hippie stuff” – well at least according to battle rapper, Immaculate out of Portland, Oregon. Ah yes, that’s just the kind of respect I’ve been fighting in doing this blog column for as long as I have. I guess I can’t blame a lot of young hip-hoppers for their view of what organizations and others try to attempt in making the ideal of politics and the arts a true union. Sometimes it works, such as our efforts showed in the polls that more youth votes than ever were recorded. Sometimes, it doesn’t as the originally clever yet, with time, increasingly vapid slogan, Vote or Die, became the “flavour de now” (I made that up all on my own) for all non-voters trying to get their democracy on.

Wearing slogans, a still unproven (at least in our arena) tool of propaganda but yet it isn’t going anywhere – much like R. Kelly – and why should it? I haven’t a true reason for wanting it gone, save for the fact I’m currently looking for the young men and women who, like me, are afraid of an increasingly conservative moral code that’s being forced and injected into our lives. And instead of getting slick with the slogans, rallies and all that fly stuff I’m all for trying to get ourselves into the lobbyist positions and really get into the faces of the lawmakers instead of in their inboxes and voicemails. Pipe dreams, D.L. – this is the common refrain of my like-minded yet sour peers. I can’t deny the weariness I feel in trying to convey to my fellow MCs and Hip Hop practitioners how relevant we can make my generation (X) and the ones behind us. The power that entertainers hold and how they truly set the pulse of the trends of the world – that is such unbridled energy.

Yet, like many a battle rapper, some often rely on cheap jokes about progressives who can’t seem to rock hard enough to even tip an easily winnable victory for the Democratic side of the fence. We’re a point of conservative sarcastic jabs of humor and we haven’t much of a counter – a shame since we have some loud mouth people on the left that could do some real solid work. They could take lessons from Poor Righteous Teacher frontman Wise Intelligent in another very insightful interview, from writer, Alex Fruchter. It may be some of the most poignant and painful interviews I’ve ever read. Wise Intelligent lives up to his weighty namesake and delivers what I feel needs to be the manifesto for all poor and oppressed people catching hell from all angles. I challenge to read that piece and not feel a lump rise in your throat – especially if you consider yourself a cog in the great machine of Hip Hop music and culture.

I hate to close this piece out on some old race type discussion but this is real – Hip Hop is and will always be a music and started by people of color and smothering pride. Yet those artists who push the more positive of messages tailored to reflect the black inner city experience and struggle usually are entertaining, a gang of white and suburban kids of all hues who will never factor in that demographic of the desolate. We are not suffering the last days of Hip Hop but there is an apocalypse of sorts afoot. There is just a bevy of garbage on the radio but let’s face it, the beat’s hot as John Madden’s back fat, jack. We’re grooving and shaking our holy good damn sense away yet here’s a man in Wise Intelligent who can’t say he owes us (the fans) a hit because he’s not getting the support from the audience he’s trying to reach and, nobly so, save. But have we in recent times really placed a premium on genuine kindheartedness and earnest hope for change? We’re slowly devolving, people, and the evidence is as clear as turning on one of your favorite music entertainment cauldrons with the witches of programming twirl themselves yet another boiling pot of sewage for the airwaves.

Change, damn it, change.


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