While everyone & their momma was praising Kanye & Jay Z’s new album, the rest of the world was getting messed up & fighting for our lives.
Once again the internets were all a flutter over the release of Watch The Throne & the stans were out in full praise mode. I expected it, so I was just going to let this week pass & let the stan party roll in silence, but the more I watched the news, heard how 600,000 Somali children could die from starvation, got phone calls from my people in London & realized the madness going on that was being ignored in place of overwhelming praise over an album that had these two rich Black men spitting mediocre lyrics being compared to Civil Rights icons & hip-hop classics, it just had my mind blown & I was just over my fellow humans & Black people in particular in our lack of priorities in seeing why we seem to be in an endless cycle that goes more in circles than forward. Jay & Ye are saving so much money in marketing fees because their “stans” volunteer on the daily to help sell their records without any pay, as if they are the ones putting their John Hancocks on the millions of unemployment checks being delved out in a nation that seems to be on a downward spiral, particularly for ethnic minorities & the poor majority
As I watched the video of racist white teens running their car over a Black man in Mississippi just because he was Black, all I could think about was Emmett Til. While all of twitter & other social media were having their own listening party with full play by play commentary for Watch the Throne, all I could hear was Nina Simone‘s Mississippi Goddam, as I was incessantly bombarded with “New Day“, which samples Nina Simone‘s Feeling Good. I was far from feeling good knowing that the new day reflections for their unborn sons had not come for many Black men in Mississippi like James Craig Anderson, along with the murdered father of 4, Mark Duggan, at the hands of police that set off the riots in North London that same night, the thousands dying in Somalia’s famine from lack of basic nourishment & shelter & the seemingly doom & gloom economic crisis in America that is disproportionately hurting those who look just like hip-hop’s new savior kings Ye & Jay! Perhaps the best song on the album that has any real lyrical substance in reflection of the times is Murder to Excellence ,unfortunately Black excellence in this case is far from Dubois’s Talented Tenth, but rather a celebration of some sort of new Black opulence & wealth , as if we had never been there before & Jay ,Ye & their circle of new money friends invented it.
“On a recent Sunday morning just before dawn, two carloads of white teenagers drove to Jackson, Mississippi, on what the county district attorney says was a mission of hate: to find and hurt a black person. In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim. James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including “White Power!” according to witnesses…”READ MORE
2 QUOTES FROM PRIME MINISTER CAMERON (1986 and 2011)
“Things got out of hand & we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets.” David Cameron, 1986.
“The looting and arson last night were criminality, pure and simple. Justice will be done and the people will see the consequences for their crimes” David Cameron, 2011- Cameron’s London
“Two nights of rioting in London’s Tottenham neighborhood erupted following protests over the shooting death by police of a local man, Mark Duggan. Police were arresting him when the shooting occurred. Over 170 people were arrested over the two nights of rioting, and fires gutted several stores, buildings, and cars. The disorder spread to other neighborhoods as well, with shops being looted in the chaos. Collected here are images from the rioting and the aftermath” READ MORE
I threw up my hands in seeing any hope that we will all somehow come to the realization that we have to do better, expect better & demand better from those who we support with our hard earned money, be it ourselves, those who we pay to serve & protect us, artists or our elected leaders. It seems very few hip-hop insiders outside of Chuck D & Dream Hampton seem to agree that it is about damn time that hip-hop stepped down from the throne of braggadocio & grew up just a little bit. It is seems many so called hip-hop heads really don’t know the history of hip-hop as blogs & commenters belittle Chuck D’s relevance for speaking out to raise the bar. I fully understand that artists are there to entertain & that is what we pay for, not for them to use their celebrity to uplift people or make political, civil or human rights statements in protests or upliftment of people in anyway, but when artists & their “stans” & critics alike start referring to themselves as political figures, leaders & activists then we all have a right to hold them to the litmus test of their bravado in exclaiming the greatness set by the standards & actions of those who they are compared to.
In Kanye’s case it was the misfortune bordering on some sort of undiagnosed psychosis in delusions of grandeur that made him think to put himself in context with Hitler. I was floored by Kanye West likening the “hate” toward him to that of Hitler & a Huffington Post Black Voices article that likened Kanye & Jay Z to Muhammed Ali & Paul Robeson. All I could say was GTFOH & get a clue. Jay & Ye ‘s shit talking about their riches, bitches & diamond rings is far from the bravado of Ali & Robeson’s shit talking with a purpose of being recognized as men & equals at a time when Black people were not seen as equals by any means no matter how much wealth we had. How irresponsible to misinterpret history in teaching a new generation who probably have no clue about Ali outside of the fact that he is known as one of the greatest boxers of all time & I doubt that many of this new generation of hip-hop enthusiasts even know about Paul Robeson with the failure of our education system to teach our young people about Black history outside of Black history month & the fact that they are descendants of slaves.
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“Paul Robeson was the epitome of the 20th-century Renaissance man. He was an exceptional athlete, actor, singer, cultural scholar, author, and political activist. His talents made him a revered man of his time, yet his radical political beliefs all but erased him from popular history. Today, more than one hundred years after his birth, Robeson is just beginning to receive the credit he is due… During the 1940s, Robeson’s black nationalist and anti-colonialist activities brought him to the attention of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Despite his contributions as an entertainer to the Allied forces during World War II, Robeson was singled out as a major threat to American democracy. Every attempt was made to silence and discredit him, and in 1950 the persecution reached a climax when his passport was revoked. He could no longer travel abroad to perform, and his career was stifled. Of this time, Lloyd Brown, a writer and long-time colleague of Robeson, states: “Paul Robeson was the most persecuted, the most ostracized, the most condemned black man in America, then or ever.…” READ MORE
As much as I love the work of Ava Duvernay & think she is brilliant in her work to get the Black Film Industry united & to attain its global recognition, I couldn’t disagree with her more in her comparison of Watch the Throne to a militant masterpiece à la Ali & Robeson. We can love our artists all we want in the feelings that they evoke in us personally, but when we give unearned accolades in revisionist history- that becomes a problem for an entire generation both past & present future.
“Watch the Throne — is a Black Nationalist Masterpiece for the New Millenium. Too Much? Because that’s how I feel right now. That’s what I hear. I hear Black Rich Militance, in the best definition of such a term. I hear the audacity of black gazillionaires saying wonderfully black things like, “I arrived/When Fred Hampton died.” Whaa-at?! You did? Okay. Damn.I hear pride. Pride wrapped in Maybach imagery. Things Oprah understandably can’t say. Things Obama surely can’t say. Things that for obvious reasons no true Black Power Players in Film, Sports, Music and Television have really dared speak in public in eons. Robeson comes to mind. He talked the talk. In the 40s and 50s. Ali comes to mind. He shouted the talk. In the 60s. But there’s been decades of silence since then from folks who have “made” it. Tell me who has “made it” to the highest heights and then started speaking the truth about the beauty of us, Black Folk, our souls, our bodies, our brains. Who? READ MORE
When Ali & Robeson spoke of the beauty of Black people in reaching the highest heights in soul, body & brains it was far from being based soley on riches. This is where our generation seems to be misinterpreting our history & progress because there is more Black wealth in the world than ever, yet global Africans are still at the bottom & we have not gotten that far in our everyday struggle to be equal citizens of the world in basic respect as human beings whose very life & existence are worth as much as any other human being. All the money in the world has not, can not & will not bring us that until we hold ourselves to higher standards beyond materialism & shit talking. Ali & Robeson used their celebrity, wealth & access to shed a light on a global African struggle that was bigger than just them as individuals, which is a greater part of their legacy than the fights or music that brought them celebrity & riches. It was never an attitude of I got mine so you better stop “hating” on me & pull yourself up by your boot straps, hustle dope or whatever you need to do to get yours like I did. As Muhammed Ali said after winning the gold medal at the Olympics: “That gold medal didn’t mean a thing to me if my Black brothers & sisters were treated wrong in a country I was supposed to represent“!
Jay Z can never arrive after Fred Hampton died without ever having gone to battle or martyrdom for his people, but he could very well take over where the godfather of rap, Gil Scott Heron left off by using music as the weapon in the new message to & from the messenger laying a foundation for the soundtrack of the new generation’s global revolution in hopefully finally finding some real resolutions.
Jay & Ye seem to have people so roped in- in a way that defies logic to me because many put down hip-hop & its misdirection & indiscretions, but somehow when Jay & Ye continue the same formula they get a pass & are praised as the second coming of Ali & Robeson- Huh? Everyone is allowed their personal taste in music, but come on people we are just taking it too far with these two & their twisted logic & demonic imagery that plays right into the whole damn world loving them while saying they are part of the so called ”illuminati“- whatever the hell that is. I have yet to hear anyone be able to explain what this so called illumanti subculture is & how so many artists we hate to love & love to hate are part of it & should be feared;however it can’t really be that feared if those who are said to be amongst them are the ones we seem to be always showering with praises of taking us all to the next level. The next level of what is what I would like to know. It seems we are all more than happy to be participants in this well staged ,well choreographed dance to nowhere based in false reality. As much as I love Ricardo Tisci & the idea of collaborating high art with hip-hop & fashion ,I realized this is all relative because I couldn’t get past the horrific looking images that jumped at me & were supposed to somehow represent ”Bold colors and angular lines incorporated symbolically to convey the “masculinity of two of the most iconic rap figures of our time with Tisci’s recognizabl geometrical prints, surreal religious iconography, animal faces and “American obsessions“! OK, whatever that means -I couldn’t get past the 1st image.
By now many maybe calling me hip-hop’s favorite word for deflecting personal responsibility- “Hater”, when it comes to Ye & Jay. As Jay once said I “brush my shoulders off” to that nonsensical logic because it is exactly that- deflecting personal responibility in not wanting to hear a dissenting opinion. I do not hate Jay & Ye at all & I actually think they are very talented, which is why I hold them to a higher standard than many others who shall remain nameless. I see what power hip-hop has globally & I would love to see us all use that power in building our nation as Ali, Robeson and so many others did in lending their voices to the Civil Rights struggle.
As Mayor Bloomberg whose policies are partly responsible for so many young Black & Latino young men being prevented from fully participating & contributing to their society gets praised as the great white hope coming to save young African-American & Latino men in New York after 9 years of seeing them as nuisances & invisible men, I can’t help but to wonder where all the Black millionaires & billionaires are who talk about how much they love & want to celebrate those that look like them. I guess you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth , unless you had to get your teeth kicked in by it’s hoof first. Who will step up to the plate for Somalia outside of misleading hip-hop hooray headlines associating something that has no merit in association except in finally taking the time to tell the story. Who will step up for global Africans hurting worldwide who can use a hand up from their own in concrete examples of what can be if we are really about loving & celebrating ourselves instead of always waiting to be saved from ourselves from others outside of ourselves!
“The problems that face young black and Latino men in New York City are deep-seated and diverse, officials who work in minority neighborhoods say. They vary not only from neighborhood to neighborhood, but also from family to family and man to man.So when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Thursday a $130 million plan to help young black and Latino men find jobs, raise families and stay out of trouble, those men — and the mentors who would help them — were tentatively happy, but raised some questions.“I’m glad to see somebody’s actually mentioning the words ‘young men’ and ‘color’ in the same sentence as ‘funding,’ ” said Danny R. Peralta, director for arts and education at The Point Community Development Corporation in the Bronx.Still, Mr. Peralta worried that the money would just graze the surface of the problem. “If you can’t wake up in the morning to some food or if you can’t get some counseling for whatever traumas you’ve been experiencing,” he said, “it is not going to reach you.’Lee Cabrera, 23, holding his son as he looked out on a courtyard in the Harlem River Houses development, said, “There are a lot of homeless kids out there right now.” With three children under 6 and a fourth on the way, Mr. Cabrera said looking for a job was the last thing on his mind. Would Mr. Bloomberg’s plan help him raise his family? READ MORE