Saul Williams' Response to Kanye West's "Love Lockdown"

The views expressed in this response are not the views expressed by over Rappers Vol.1Listening to Kanye's “Love Lockdown” and reading the comments beneath it on, it brought me back to the conversation I had yesterday, sitting in the barber chair while images of an old me flashed on MTV in a Goodie Mobb video for my film Slam. Me and Bruce, my barber, started talking about the attention that so many rappers give to “haters” in their music and how hate seems to fuel so much creativity in the hood and Hip-Hop community. We questioned what our music would sound like if it weren't so pre-occupied with hate or haters, if we shifted our attention to the fact that so many of us are loved by so many more than we are hated by. I think of the family members and friends that call to check in on me, the messages of support that I get from fans, and my personal triumph at home with having found love and the newfound challenges that come with learning how to fully surrender to it and am forced to admit, I am loved, most fully by one, and quite truly by many. Yet, reading those posts underneath Kanye's obvious attempt at pouring his heart out, made me actually acknowledge, that some heads can be truly hateful and that that hatefulness must certainly have roots in something that is on lockdown, deep within. Deep within the psyche of the Hip-Hop community and mos def within aspects of the African American community, their lives a feeling of being suppressed, held down, by forces that do not wish to see us succeed. Whether the apparent truths that allow us to point fingers at institutionalized racism or the oblivious actions of the privileged hold actual weight, we seem to be most commonly held back by our perceptions of ourselves. A true glance at Hip-Hop’s most successful artists would allow one to see a common thread of confidence and persistence playing a huge part in success. Essentially, the most successful are the ones who don't see obstacles as obstacles, who despite the hardened grimace maintain a positive, balanced, and possibly even optimistic outlook. Yet, why is so much emphasis placed on hate? Is it partially because it is the easiest emotion to write from, the assumed position of the underdog?Over the past decade or more, Hip-Hop has clearly seemed to be a reflection of the average American psyche, at large. The popularity of gangstas in the mainstream could only be overshadowed by the popularity of gangsters in the government. 50 and George Bush share the same birthday and the idea of "I do what I wanna do, don't care if get caught…" has surely been the prevailing sentiment in both popular Hip-Hop music and the pro-war stance of the country that allowed Bush to have his way without impeachment, and a lot of bulls**t lyricism to claim the charts. The tides are truly changing, but not without another parallel: It seems that America’s addiction to oil can very easily be likened to Hip-Hop’s addiction to hate. We are fueled by a source of energy that has led us to murdering the innocent in the name of convenience. Rappers that have never truly been hated on will spit endlessly about haters and their overall defeat, when truly all that has been defeated is the opportunity to spread something more powerful than ones own ego through their music. It's a never ending cycle that puts mean mugs where smiles could be and makes countless victims out of would be victors.I would argue that Hip-Hop is in dire need of an alternative fuel source, and that what Kanye is experimenting with is exactly that. Lyrics and music that are fueled by love or even love-loss are like cars powered by solar energy or electricity. In the long run, I think we'll all benefit from the transformation. Until then, f**king with that s**t will probably get you, like me, ending up getting honorable mentions in's "Alternative" section, never fully realizing that the "alternative" choice will stand the test of time, heal the Earth, and aid in progressing humanity beyond a Pop that pisses on young minds. Eventually, the alternative choices will become the popular choices and many will look back like, "How could I not see that coming?" Hopefully they will have divested their funds from the ideals of the dwindling regime in enough time to save their precious assets.Those comments beneath Kanye's song made me unwillingly acknowledge that I can grow to understand as much as I want to, but that ain't gonna stop heads from getting and staying caught up. Every path is individual, but most of you cats dress alike and point fingers at they guy who dares to be different, or rather, them self. Diamonds on woodgrain, wanna be swagger, blah blah blah, you fall for it every time it hits the airwaves. I swear I feel a need to tell these NGHs to shut up to they face, but that ain't love…yet, that alone seems to be the only thing that would get me out of this "alternative" prism-like prison.Grow the f**k up haters. It's much harder to love. And for the record, I'll go verse for verse with anyone of your heroes. Poets over Rappers, bitches. LMAO.Saul