“…Black Drug Dealer ya have to wise up and organize your business so that we can rise up…If you’re gonna sell crack then don’t be a fool…Organize your business and open up a school…” – KRS-ONE
(AllHipHop Opinion) I don’t purport to know what Meek Mill did or didn’t do to violate his probation or anything he’s allegedly done in the past to have served jail time in the first place but I do want to use this situation to shed some light on or, at least present an observation of how Hip-Hop seems to be moving considering this event. Firstly, I want to say that I am not in support of the sometimes frivolous and unfair legal system. If Meek should be free, then free the man. Second, what I do know of Meek Mill, particularly through his music, he’s a grown man that understands what he wants to do and the consequences of his actions for good or nil. So, if he’s in the wrong I suspect he’ll remain the man he says he is and is known to be and deal with whatever comes his way. In either case…stay up Black man!
It’s clear to me that Hip-Hop has power. How are we wielding it though? This is a culture and a people that has sprung from poverty and nothingness into a worldwide, celebrated, billion-dollar platform. We’ve overcome over whelming odds just to remain marginalized; sometimes within our own culture. I cannot for the life of me figure out why are folks parked in front of a jailhouse protesting and rallying for the freedom of a man who is alleged to have willingly given up his right to freedom by violating the terms of his probation. How many other causes of ours would be better served with our presence, our voices…our expressions of outrage? How many of those standing with Meek made their way to the polls this past election? How many folks stayed home during the midterm elections during Obama’s second term and watched his support from the legislative branch flip and fade away?!? How about those pink Pussy hats? Remember those?
This writer made a point to say to friends and family supporting that movement to be careful of aligning themselves with the women who don’t appreciate or honor the intersectionality of the women’s movement across demarcations of color and culture. Got a grip of grief for voicing that opinion and, lo and behold, the voting demographics of the most recent general election proved me right. It turned out exactly as I suspected. I say all of that to say that we in Hip-Hop seem to have this penchant for championing and chaperoning lost causes. A penchant to either lend or outright give away our power. We often seem eager to celebrate far too many pyrrhic victories and to cultivate a love for posture and bluster within the culture at the expense of the substance. All while there’s still work to be done… This is no reprimand or criticism, but I think it needs to be said. We have to stop wasting our time, our lives and our power on causes and people who aren’t for the betterment of Hip-Hop….and in this context, I mean, “The People” when I say Hip-Hop!!!
Where is our power? Why aren’t there more instances where we come together to consolidate our collective power and voices? Why does there seem to be a problem with us identifying those causes to support and rally around that would be to our lasting benefit? These are some of the questions that that lead me to my musing about the quote of KRSONE at the outset of this writing. Drug dealer or no, we all should continue to look at the overarching theme of the lyrics. The song at its heart implores someone seeking to seize power by whatever means to find an effective and efficient use of that power gained. It implores them to find a benevolent and lasting use for that power gained. It is a plea for those on the wrong path to change their lives and in doing that, changing the lives of others. The image of the drug dealer, “redeemed” is what is striking in this context.
We are conditioned and expected to see gangsters and hustlers meet an untimely end by any number of ways. Many of them including incarceration and/or death. The song also reminds me of the saying, “…behind every great fortune there’s a crime…”. What if.. just what if we decided that the “great fortune” was a lasting legacy of benevolence? Some symbol, some asset or act that speaks to the transformative and intelligent root of our Hip-Hop culture? A symbol that says that maybe you’ve done some dirt in your life but somewhere and somehow you’ve decided that you’re going to turn that around and divest from the unseemly things of your past. What if you accept that good works can be a feasible end that justifies the means? Instead of desiring to hear your name “ring out” in the streets maybe you can have your name ring out in history beyond the corner, the gate, the booth, the mic and social media. Then again, maybe I wouldn’t understand.
Maybe the folks who are riding with Meek and protesting and showing this grand affection on his behalf may just be the folks who believe that they’ll one day see him walking into a school he just helped to build, maybe a space he renovated to house a budding law practice, or, him underwriting scholarships to college for local kids from his neighborhood. Who knows, but Hip-Hop has created some life changing second chances for many of its constituencies great and small. Perhaps this show of support for Meek are folks pouring their hopes and dreams and faith into this man. Maybe this incident leads us to the Meek we seek. Maybe this event is the start of his *real* second chance. I think in writing this I’ve come to appreciate a movement that I still don’t quite understand but just maybe there’s evidence, a hint of the alchemy and the power of HipHop. Pour love in…what will be the output?
Free Meek Mill.
Writing: Toes Wet
Hip-Hop: Waist Deep
Life: Above Water
“It’s about Damned Time”