Scared Spitless: Does Hip-Hop Fear the Powers that Be?

The date was September 11, 2007. The conference room of the Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta, USA was packed as 50 Cent and Kanye West engage in a debate over whose CD will outsell the other. Although, Kanye West has been known to kick a serious rhyme or two, it’s not about that this go-round. It’s about who is going to get it poppin’ at the club next weekend and which CD is going to shake up the world. Half the crowd is screaming G-Unit, while the other half is throwin’ up the Roc-A-Fella diamond. But in the end who wins the competition for Hip Hop world supremacy? The Conservative Think Tank could be the actual winner. The buildup surrounding the same-day release of the Kanye West's and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's CDs rivaled that of a modern day Ali/Frazier fight. I expected to see Don King on TV talking about how "magnanimous" the event would be.The obvious question is that - with Hip-Hop being under the gun since the Don Imus "nappy headed ho" thing last April - why isn’t Hip Hop more interested in devising a counter attack? Am I missing something? In Atlanta, right now, the powers that be are pushing for laws banning sagging pants at the same time the talking heads are trying to blame Michael Vick’s dog fighting rap on DMX. So why do Hip-Hop artists choose to major in the minor instead of tackling the hard questions? The answer is simple. It’s called fear.Men aren’t supposed to be scared of anything. So in the larger than life, testosterone-driven world of Hip Hop, of course, this characteristic is over exaggerated.This is not to say that Black men don’t have the right to be a little edgy. Just look back at our history.It was not unusual for rebellious Black men in the 19th and early 20th centuries to be hanged in front of their wives and children. Not to mention the COINTELPRO Program of the 60's in which those who dared to speak out had their lives snatched.It must be noted that those assassinations were not for the victims, but meant to plant a seed of fear in generations to come so that if they even thought about rebelling against authority, visions of Black mutilated bodies would flash before their eyes.This is the historical source of our fears. No one really wants to be a martyr, especially amongst a people who don’t have such a good track record of honoring their heroes. Or maybe the rappers are scared of "revolutionary career suicide" to borrow a term from Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party.America has shown very little tolerance for those who have been blessed with the treasures of capitalism who use their fame and influence to challenge the very system under which they gained their wealth.Do the rappers of today really want to suffer the same fate as Paul Robeson who was blackballed for being a "Commie," Billie Holiday who was banned for singing about that "strange fruit" hanging from southern trees or Craig Hodges of the Chicago Bulls who was blacklisted for wearing a dashiki to the White House. Hip-Hop has not been spared the wrath of the establishment as rappers such as Professor Griff, Sister Souljah, Ice-T, and Ice Cube experienced "high tech lynchings" during the late 80's/early 90's.Who wants to risk losing a fleet of sports cars and houses in the Hamptons when it is much easier to bury your head in a bag of weed and pretend that all is right with the world? Recently, it was revealed that the government has a program called "Talon" that was keeping an eye on anti -war activists including members of that peaceful, turn-the-other-cheek religious group the Quakers. Now if the Feds kept a file on that dude on the oatmeal box, what kind of file do you think that they have on the brother on the cover of a CD burning a flag, raising his middle finger and yelling, “F**k the Police?Also, while Hip-Hop heads were quick to wear T-Shirts that said "Free Pimp C" and "Free Lil Kim," how many are going to sport t-shirts that say "Free the Jena 6"? Despite all the tough talk that rappers spit at each other, when it comes to speaking truth to the powerful decision shapers most have a fear of Bill O’Reilly grabbing them by their collars in a back room and saying:"Listen, we can handle this like gentlemen or we can get into some real gangsta stuff...”But that’s not everybody. Some of us are not afraid to speak truth to power in 2007. Durham NC rapper Big Swagg, hook master Mr. Cox and yours truly, the Truth Minista have teamed up for "Drums of War" a Hip-Hop diss track aimed at those who are dissing Hip-Hop. (You can download it at ) Let this be the "Fight the Power " of 2007! The new anthem that is going to make Hip-Hop stand up! The song that is going to shake the very foundation of.... OK, I’ll be happy to just give Bill O’Reilly nightmares about a group of "gangsta rappers" tying him up and making him watch 48 uninterrupted hours of BET.Truth Minista Paul Scott’s blog is