As a body of people united by the common thread
of urban cultural expression, i.e. Hip Hop, we suffer from a collective memory
loss, where we forget the trends of no more than a few months prior.
I remember the first Gulf War and how Hip Hop
responded. Some of us supported "our" troops by wearing fatigues in
videos, desert boots, and by shouting out the corny ass phrase "peace in
the middle east". These cosmetic responses offended my NWA & PE sensibilities.
However, I was sincerely impacted by the bold statement of a young and revolutionary
Back when The Source still printed college radio
Hip Hop play lists, the Source’s original Mind Squad articulated why their publication
would not accept United States military advertising dollars, the same way they
had refused Alcohol and cigarette ads. They knew the destructive impact of the
US government’s hypocrisy in it’s exploitation of soldiers of color and their
denial of justice to Black and Latino communities.
Well, gone are the days of Hip Hop idealism and
cultural militancy, but once again the Hip Hop generation is confronted with
war. Ironically, we are partying more in the midst of a slew of events attacking
Hip Hop and urban youth culture. To compound this political indifference, we
are being bombarded with military recruitment campaigns ranging from advertisement
on websites like SOHH.com and Blackplanet.com, video games, and youth publications
like Urban Latino and The Source.
It is critical that Hip Hop culture reflect the
condition of the communities from which it came. These are communities that
have been plagued with police brutality for years, but are now confronted with
a militarized police force and a government hell bent on controlling social
This is in addition to the already massive US
prison population of people of color. Will members and practitioners of Hip
Hop’s various cultural forms remain silent on the Government’s crackdown on
urban youth culture? Historically, it is a fact that racist violence rises during
periods of warfare. How will the multicultural Hip Hop audience and community
confront this backlash against Black, Latino, and Asian youth?
This crisis forces us to look inward and be self critical. For years we’ve used
terms like "The Hip Hop Nation" and "The Hip Hop Generation",
acting as if there were an assumed set of politics one must subscribe to in
order to be "Hip Hop". This was good in theory but it has yet to be
defined by the broader Hip Hop community. Many people who call Hip Hop a culture
rarely are able to define it as such outside of its 4 or 5 recognized "elements",
much less address the political power of Hip Hop.
The Honorable Louis Farrakhan in his riveting address during the Nation of Islam’s
Saviours’ Day convention, spoke of a backlash of white anger for tearing white
youth away from the mentality of their parents through Hip Hop culture. It is
no coincidence that there is heightened scrutiny on the Hip Hop community during
this period of "homeland security". Now, more than ever, is there
a need for those who identify with Hip Hop culture to organize and defend the
communities who produced it.
Reach David Muhammad at: firstname.lastname@example.org