Stay Woke: Jay Z, Biggie and the Hypnotizing Effect of Hip Hop


“Biggie Biggie Biggie Can’t you see/Sometimes your words just hypnotize me.” – Notorious BIG

It was June 30, 2017 and Rashad Jackson had just sat down to listen to the new Jay Z album. Although he heard a loud ruckus outside his bedroom window, he ignored it thinking it was just a bunch of overzealous Jay Z fans who were just as eager to download 444 as he was. That was until the Feds kicked down his door and told him that they were arresting every black male in his hood for suspected criminal activity….
One of the most effective tactics of the oppressor is the art of distraction. Kinda like when you were a kid and the doctor told you to “watch the birdie” while he stuck that long needle in your left arm. Politically, this country has mastered the art of having you looking up in the sky while they pickpocket your wallet. They have mastered the art of hypnotizing the masses. Entertainment has always been used as a way to distract people. Some people have alleged that it was no mere coincidence that Louis Armstrong was on tour in Africa via the State Department  at approximately the same time Patrice Lumumba was assassinated. Domestically, it is no secret that James Brown was used to keep Black people from rioting in the streets after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However,  in the Trump era distraction seems to be in overdrive. Last month, on June 16th, while Tupac Shakur fans across the country were busy putting extra butter on their popcorn at the premiere of the biopic  All Eyez on Me,  Donald Trump asked Cuba to extradite Tupac’s godmother, Assata Shakur, something that the government has been trying, unsuccessfully, to do for about 40 years. More recently, Shawn Carter fans  were too busy trying to subscribe to his Tidal streaming service to see the tidal wave of repression that was headed their way. On June 30th , Trump announced that he was sending in federal agents to help stop the violence in Chicago aka Chiraq. While the average American may think that this is a good thing, history teaches us otherwise. The “get tough on crime”  policies have never really worked out for  black people in a society funded largely by the Prison Industrial Complex. Yes, the mass incarceration of black men in AmeriKKKa is big business.  Also, it cannot be disputed that both Ronald Reagan’s “War on Drugs,”  which happened during  the same time the CIA was, allegedly, pumping crack into South Central LA, and Bill Clinton’ s “Three Strikes Law” were epic fails. We must , also , never forget that  the power structure has a real hard time differentiating between criminal activity and civil disobedience and protest, This goes back to the Richard Nixon Era when “Tricky Dick” spent more time trying to bring down the Black Panther Party than stopping the heroin epidemic that was wrecking havoc on the ‘hood.   Ironically, also on June 30th, as the media were just getting wind of the new National Rife Association’s recruitment video which used footage of the Baltimore Rebellion to scare white folk into supporting the Po Po and picking up an extra double barreled shotgun to protect themselves. I’m surprised that they didn’t try to use Nas’s Got Yourself a Gun as theme music. What is especially alarming about the NRA call to arms is their strong pro Second Amendment stance has always endeared them to the anti-government white militias (and some black folk) who believe that at any moment the Feds are gonna come snatch up all their weapons. Even early Black Power advocate Robert Williams was a card carrying member of the NRA. So, to see them in bed with the Feds is strange indeed. But as they say “politics makes strange bedfellows.” Am I saying that the Tupac movie release and the Jay Z  album dates were, intentionally ,  part of a grand conspiracy to put the newly “woke” back to sleep. Of course not. Distractions only work on those who are easily distracted. But what I am saying is to be black in America means that  you are always being suckered into a crooked game of Three Card Monte with the deck stacked against you. As Childish Gambino cryptically warns us on his song Redbone “Stay woke,,,don’t you close your eyes…..” Minister Paul Scott is founder of the Black Messiah Movement based in Durham NC. He can be reached at  Follow on Twitter @truthminista