Black History Month is upon us. Though its Hispanic contributions must be recognized, Hip-Hop culture has become one of the largest outlets of expression in Black history. Whether it was Big Daddy Kane updating Donny Hathaways definition of Young, Gifted & Black, dead prezs outcry about the education inequalities in They Schools or Chamillionaire feeling the suspicions of the law in Riding Dirty, rap music often translates the feelings of Black America for the ears, eyes and minds of all races.
In weekly features, AllHipHop pays tribute to Black History of all eras and levels, by letting Hip-Hops biggest and brightest tell you who means something to them. Whether its freedom fighters, The Godfather of Soul, or two of the most sampled speech writers of rap music, get it straight from the sources, and do the knowledge.
AllHipHop.com: Who is somebody in Black History of significance to you, and why?
Omarion: James Brown because before he passed away, I was on the Scream
Tour and actually was doing this piece and would explain my influences.
A lot of people would think that I didn’t know about James Brown, and
then his beat would come on and the people would stand up. I did splits
and the whole thing. It was really unfortunate that he passed away.
Juicy J [of Three-6-Mafia]: Louis Farrakhan, he was a great fella, I look up to him. [He] gives great advice. [I admire] a lot of people. My dad, you need to meet my dad he’s a cool dude, he’ll give you great advice, he put you in the right direction, he don’t pressure you or nothing. He’s the person in the show to give you inspiration. When you see my dad on the show, you’ll be like, I see what Juicy was talking about. If you ever meet him in person, you’d be asking him for advice. Rosa Parks – Rest in Peace James Brown – Rest in Peace Gerald Levert Rest in Peace, Isaac Hayes, I love his music he’a s a great person, Al Green, B.B. King, so many people. I could name them all day, I’d be on the phone with you another two days. Martin Luther King, you know.
DJ Jazzy Jeff: [Muhammad] Ali. People don’t realize that he gave up all he had for what he believed in, that’s big. He actually stood up for all of us in a time it was not popular at all. I thanked him for that, as we all should.
Lil Scrappy: Tupac [Shakur], because he made it where a Black man in my job description can be real and show true colors. He was also a Black Panther and helped many [of our people].
Sean Price: Assata Shakur. I read [Assata: An Autobiography] and I could see [her struggle] as I read it. I respect that lady so much and people need to really know about her. I think she got f**ked over by the people of America. I read recently that the government upped her bounty. But it’s a powerful book, and a powerful lady; I respect that and wish her the best. We get the shortest month of the year, but we got to make the most of it.
Krayzie Bone: I would have to say Malcolm X, because of what he stood for. [I admire him for what he did, and the courage he had to do what he did in the times they were living in, and really gain respect. He showed that Black people could be organized and could move as organizations.
QD3: I think people who stretch the envelope, and don’t feel they have to fit into the box that’s being created by the media [are to be respected]. Whether it’s the guy who designed the new [Chrysler] Hemi [Chrysler Vice President, Darryl Jackson] – he’s a Brother; I admire people like that. The voice of “Elmo” on Sesame Street is a Brother [Kevin Clash]. I love that kind of kind of thing. They’re designing a genre, and it’s face-less until they come out and show who they are.
Devin the Dude: Theres a lot of important, significant Black people. I would say Quincy Jones. Hes incredible, as far as music, production, and getting people together that you might not have thought of. Like how could those people get together and make something so beautiful and meaningful. He was a master at music whether it was orchestrated, Jazz, some Blues, R&B, Soul. He was a wizard at that, a mastermind of music.
Lil’ Keke: DJ Screw [Born Robert Earl Davis, Jr.]. He gave Southern artists an opportunity that we never had. When you go downtown in New York, the chances of getting a deal is so much easier. Same thing with Los Angeles, when you go downtown, you see Capitol, you see Interscope, all these places. When you go downtown in Houston, you see nothin’. We came from nothin’ in Texas, man. DJ Screw gave us an opportunity to be heard. I’ve never done a talent show. I’ve never done a demo tape. When I came from Screw tapes in 1997, before I did my first album, I had 30-40,000 fans already. When I dropped my first album, Don’t Mess With Texas on July 1, 1997, I sold 41,000 tapes the first week. I thank him, DJ Screw, for giving us the opportunity to be heard, to build a fanbase, and to make money off of a game that didn’t give us any opportunities.