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 the second of 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.
Fat Man Scoop: I would have to say Malcolm X. I think that he was [murdered] way before it was time for him to go, and I think that where he
was in his life at the time and the direction he was going politically
would have changed the game dramatically. Even more than Dr. Martin
Luther King. It would have done so much more. I also have a lot of
respect for Colin Powell because of where he grew up and how he grew up
and the fact that to me he’s probably the first Afro-American that
could possibly become the president. Because he’s okay enough with the
White people. White people in the middle of nowhere say, “Yeah, yeah I
know Colin Powell. I’d rock with him.” But, he’s Black too. I think
he’d be the first one to have a shot at vice president, because we’re
gonna have to work this in. You’re not just gonna have a Black man just
jump in up in there eatin’ chicken and smokin’ Newports and all that.
We’re gonna have to work our way in.
Shanda Freeman: I would have to say Madam C.J. Walker, inventor of the
hot comb. I still use my hot comb. She was the first female millionaire
to have made it back then. I love strong women; I love Oprah. I look to
strong women, just how I carry myself and the dreams I want for myself
Bishop Lamont: It always f**kin sucks that Black History Month is just a month, it should be an everyday occurrence. Its the shortest f**kin month of the f**kin year. Motherf**kers should not just show Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, and Malcolm X as the only motherf**kas that contributed to society at large. It goes beyond Frederick Douglass and George Washington Carver. For me, Id say John Henry Clarke, Aussie Davis, and Harry Belafonte Jim Brown. Ill say those. Its deeper than that though. I urge people to look for individuals that history has tried to erase or dilute.
DJ Shok [formerly of Ruff Ryders]: Martin Luther King. He changed America and did not follow anyone except God. He never used violence and accomplished more than any war ever could. A true follower of Christ in a world where violence is usually the answer. He was led by faith, integrity, truth and justice and never lowered himself to the level of those who opposed him. That is real courage.
Andre LeRoy-Davis: Artwise, meaning pencil-to-paper, Ernest Barnes, who did the paintings for Good Times – the ones that J.J. supposedly painted. He was one of my influences for the elongation. When I was in school, everybody was too damn serious, so I started doing caricatures. Just seeing the way he did that, influenced. Another was Overton Lloyd, who did a lot of the Parliament-Funkadelic album covers.
Musiq Soulchild: Fela Kuti. Fela Anikulapo Kuti. African soul artist
from the 60s and 70s. He was pretty much in a matter of speaking, he
was like the James Brown of Nigeria. This dude, first of all, he
created a sound called Afro-Beat. And if he didn’t create it, he was
the best that ever did it. Kinda like James Brown; James Brown didn’t
necessarily create Soul music, but he was arguably the best that ever
So, this dude was livin’ in a time where Black people was really
tryin’ to get themselves together in Africa. He was very political. I
mean, If he let the people had there way, he probably would of been the
President of Nigeria at that time. This dude was very passionate, not
only about music but about his people man. He is completely about the
upliftment of his people, you know. Its a lot of things I can get into
that I don’t have the time to. But that dude has thoroughly inspired me
man. And no matter what people try to do to him he just kept pushin’
on. I know you’ve heard the story a lot. Even through, over here we had
Dr. Martin Luther King, we had, you know Malcolm X, we had Marcus
Garvey, we had a whole ton of people. And that’s just to name the
obvious ones. The obvious ones because those are the
ones that are usually named. But I wanted to pick one that was not
usually, you know, readily used. That’s why I said Fela Kuti.
Lloyd: My mother, who to me is the epitome of what a strong Black woman should be. You have a woman who pretty much raised seven kids on her own managing two jobs sometimes, just willing to sacrifice everything about herself so that we could have a better way of life. I lost my father at a very young age; I think that he lost his life trying to provide a better one for me and my siblings. Her being there for me at a young age instilled who I am today.