Originally posted September 11, 2002.
By: Grouchy Greg Watkins
On September 11, 2001, masses of Americans witnessed firsthand aspects of a new sort of war unseen since World War II, but one year later the nation is reflecting on the attacks on New York City and Washington D.C.
The attack on American soil, the first since Pearl Harbor and the worst ever, resulted in the creation of a worldwide coalition aimed at rooting out “terror,” alleged Anthrax attacks via the postal service, a war of biblical proportions in the Middle East, a faltering economy and yes, an impending war which seems to have the entire world divided.
Most Americans seemed unaware of the anti-American fury that brewed overseas, or even more oblivious that it would be unleashed in such a deadly, destructive manner.
“What’s so cold is that shit was totally unexpected – way outta the normal,” Scarface told AllHipHop.com. “It let me know anything can happen.”
And for the past year, it seemed anything would happen. Bush named John Ridge director of Homeland Security, a new position to monitor possible terror attacks and issue warnings to the public.
For the months after the attacks America, especially New York, was on high alert and as time passed, many were forced to return to their normal grind. Scarface continued saying, traveling didn’t make a difference to him and even revealed that he has a plan should terrorists attempt to hijack a plane while he is riding.
"When I get on the plane I take two Sprite cans and two pillow cases. Now you can’t kill somebody who already wanna die, but you can administer some immense pain, he quipped. That’s where the soda cans come into play. Ima hit him with the pillow cases and soda cans and get some respect outta his ass.”
Despite his valor, Face isn’t the norm. A recent survey showed 42 percent of people surveyed reported depression, 21 percent difficulty concentrating and 18 percent trouble sleeping.
“The big thing in my life is flying,” Memphis vet 8Ball said. “Before that shit, I used to fly everywhere, two or three times a week and since that, I think Ive flown maybe four times. If Im able to take the bus where Im going, if its close enough, Im doing that first.”
Similarly, Nelly also stopped flying after September 11th and tours the country by bus.
And most people seem to be overcome by a sense of lingering anxiety.
"Im in New York now and I was here last year at the same time and it feels weird. I can’t make up my mind whether I feel safe or not because anything is possible,” Skillz of Rawkus Records said.
“I always get nervous on the George Washington Bridge,” Kimora Lee Simmons said referring the New York City landmark that once offered a clear view of the Towers.
Simmons acknowledged that she and her husband, Russell Simmons, no longer fly on public planes.
“It’s expensive and not everyone can afford to do it, I realize that but it gives us a better peace of mind, so we do it when we can,” she said.
The Simmons’ were affected by the tragedies directly, losing their lavish penthouse on Liberty Street, which was right across from the World Trade Centers.
“Yes, on September 11th we lost our house, which was worth millions," Kimora Lee said. "That cannot possibly compare to the value of all of the innocent souls lost. When I think of what I lost on those terms, it’s extremely small.”
“I go to sleep and I am horrified when my phone rings early,” California rapper Mystic concurred. “I don’t want someone to call me and say something awful has happened.”
While Mystic admits to the anxiety that all of us feel in some form or another, whether it's flying on a plane, taking a train, riding over a bridge or through a tunnel, she said that the attacks didn’t change her over all attitude or change her work schedule.
“I went out on tour within two weeks of the incident and there were very few other groups touring at the time,” she said. “It felt healing to acknowledge and to talk to people about what was going on.”
For a short period, even battling rappers appeared to embrace each other, just at the attacks seemed to unite the country.
Jay-Z, Hammer, Mystikal and Young M.C. tossed their weight behind the cause recording songs and freestyles addressing the attack.
Canibus even recorded a record, “Draft Me,” supporting the war in Afghanistan.
“I recorded that song because I was angry,” Canibus told AllHipHop.com. "I truly felt like going to war.”
Nevertheless, more than a year later, hip-hop is as divided as ever and things seem to have picked up in hip-hop right where they left off.
“Ni##as don't mind, we been getting f##ked up, drunk and high this long, why not ride out like this?” Scarface asked. “We ain't did nothin since the civil rights. You can know what’s wrong, but what you gonna do to fix it? I gotta a lot of respect for a motherf##ker who is willing to die for what he believes in and no one here is.”
The events of September 11th forever changed the way people viewed themselves and for most, served as an awakening to what was going on in the world around us.
“The United States as a whole has been oppressing people and killing innocent people for a long, long time and these are facts. You can only beat someone down before they stand up and say ‘hell no,’ Mystic said.
What some people are fighting for is much different than anything we know. We don’t understand what it’s like fighting to eat, fighting just to live.”
“I feel like our country does a lot of dirt that’s kept from the awareness of the American people. It jeopardizes the lives of many citizens when the victims of our own government do things to retaliate,” Kool G. Rap said previously to AllHipHop regarding Sept 11. “It’s a shame innocent people have to suffer for their [the governments] actions.”
Kimora echoed the sentiments of G Rap and Scarface as well. We’re supposed to be one of the most powerful and we need to change our foreign policy because it’s affecting us,” she said.
The actions of September 11th, 2001 proved one thing for certain – it made Americans feel vulnerable and human.
A poll conducted last month said 73 percent of Americans felt another terrorist attack would take place on American soil at some point in the future.
“Hell yeah, and when we least expect it,” Scarface said. “They not gonna strike right now, they waiting. They waited, what, 8 years to hit the Towers again?”
“I think other things are gonna happen. Things will happen in forms we can't pull together in our minds right now,” Mystic said somberly.
Conversely, Kimora was more optimistic.
"I hope not, let’s pray nothing more happens. We need to figure out how we can improve these things and think about how it’s going to affect our children’s children. We have to bring about change.”
“There are a lot of people who dont believe in voting to bring about change,” Mystic added. I have been voting since I was 18. You have to try. It’s f##ked up, especially with the elections of last year, you have to try.”
50 Cent summed his feelings up in one thought.
“Nobody would care if planes hit the projects. I’m from the bottom so my feelings on 9-11 is ‘s##t happens," the Queens-bred rapper told AllHipHop.com.