Hip Hop In The Hour Of Chaos

As a body of people united by the common thread

of urban cultural expression, i.e. Hip Hop, we suffer from a collective memory

loss, where we forget the trends of no more than a few months prior.

I remember the first Gulf War and how Hip Hop

responded. Some of us supported "our" troops by wearing fatigues in

videos, desert boots, and by shouting out the corny ass phrase "peace in

the middle east". These cosmetic responses offended my NWA & PE sensibilities.

However, I was sincerely impacted by the bold statement of a young and revolutionary

publication...The Source.

Back when The Source still printed college radio

Hip Hop play lists, the Source's original Mind Squad articulated why their publication

would not accept United States military advertising dollars, the same way they

had refused Alcohol and cigarette ads. They knew the destructive impact of the

US government's hypocrisy in it's exploitation of soldiers of color and their

denial of justice to Black and Latino communities.

Well, gone are the days of Hip Hop idealism and

cultural militancy, but once again the Hip Hop generation is confronted with

war. Ironically, we are partying more in the midst of a slew of events attacking

Hip Hop and urban youth culture. To compound this political indifference, we

are being bombarded with military recruitment campaigns ranging from advertisement

on websites like SOHH.com and Blackplanet.com, video games, and youth publications

like Urban Latino and The Source.

It is critical that Hip Hop culture reflect the

condition of the communities from which it came. These are communities that

have been plagued with police brutality for years, but are now confronted with

a militarized police force and a government hell bent on controlling social


This is in addition to the already massive US

prison population of people of color. Will members and practitioners of Hip

Hop's various cultural forms remain silent on the Government's crackdown on

urban youth culture? Historically, it is a fact that racist violence rises during

periods of warfare. How will the multicultural Hip Hop audience and community

confront this backlash against Black, Latino, and Asian youth?

This crisis forces us to look inward and be self critical. For years we've used

terms like "The Hip Hop Nation" and "The Hip Hop Generation",

acting as if there were an assumed set of politics one must subscribe to in

order to be "Hip Hop". This was good in theory but it has yet to be

defined by the broader Hip Hop community. Many people who call Hip Hop a culture

rarely are able to define it as such outside of its 4 or 5 recognized "elements",

much less address the political power of Hip Hop.

The Honorable Louis Farrakhan in his riveting address during the Nation of Islam's

Saviours' Day convention, spoke of a backlash of white anger for tearing white

youth away from the mentality of their parents through Hip Hop culture. It is

no coincidence that there is heightened scrutiny on the Hip Hop community during

this period of "homeland security". Now, more than ever, is there

a need for those who identify with Hip Hop culture to organize and defend the

communities who produced it.

Reach David Muhammad at: wali_fard@hotmail.com