Spies Like Us: The Secret Relationship Between Rats and Rappers


“Can’t win a debate so they sponsor every threat to me/ I wonder if Agent 800 is standing next to me” – “Young Lords”, Immortal Technique

During a recent panel discussion, Hip-Hop artist, Knowledge the Revelator, was just about to expose the diabolical plot of how they are using rap music to dumb down the masses. Suddenly, Alfred Jenkins, aka “King Alfred” pimp, slapped the person sitting next to him, which started a brawl that abruptly ended the conference. While fists and chairs were flying, Jenkins quietly exited through a side door where he was met by a man in a black suit and sunglasses, who handed him an envelope addressed to “Agent Rex 84…”

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Muslim students at “a dozen campuses in the Northeast” were being spied on by the NYPD. Coincidentally, around the same time, the NY Confidential website released a report that alleged that a 2008 meeting of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network was also infiltrated by the NYPD following the trial of the police officers who killed Sean Bell.

Although it came as a shock for some, the “Alphabet boys” (as Young Jeezy would say) have long sent snitches into organizations – both criminal and political.

One of the earliest rats to infiltrate a Black organization was James Wormley Jones (Agent 800), who spied on Marcus Garvey and the UNIA during the 1920s. According to a February 11, 2011, article posted on the FBI website, “A Byte Out of History,” other agents assigned to the UNIA included, Earl Titus, Authur Lowell Brent, and Thomas Leon Jefferson. Also, according to the PBS documentary, “Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind,” one of Garvey’s closest associates, Herbert Bowlin, “owner of a Harlem based Black doll company,” was an informant known as “Agent P-138”

Later, Civil Rights organizations came under scrutiny by the Feds.

More than a decade ago, researcher Steve Cokely, shed light on a March 21, 1993, “Memphis Commercial Appeal” article that accused the NAACP’s former board chairman, Joel Spingarn, of being a major in the Military Intelligence Division who, “used his post to obtain critical information for MID, such as a list of the organization’s 32,000 members. ”

The same newspaper also reported in a September 12, 2010, article that noted Civil Rights photographer, Ernest Withers, was not only an FBI informant, but took the pictures at the scene of the Martin Luther King assassination.

It is more widely known that the Black Panthers and other “militant” movements of the late ’60s-early ’70s were heavily infiltrated by informants such as William O’Neal, who supplied intel to the Feds that led to the murder of Fred Hampton “and BOSS (Bureau of Special Services) agent, Eugene Roberts, who, not only was spying on Malcolm X when he was assassinated but, according to John Potash in his book, The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders, was later an original member of the New York Chapter of the Black Panther Party of which Tupac’s stepfather and mother were also members.

Although, Tupac Shakur inherited the legacy of government persecution from Mutula and Afeni Shakur, he was just one in a long line of rappers from NWA to the Wu-Tang Clan under investigation by the Feds. Back in 2000, Cedric Muhammad of Blackelectorate.com began releasing a series of “Rap COINTELPRO” articles exposing this fact.

So why would federal and local law enforcement agencies still be interested in a music that has become increasingly apolitical since the early ’90s?

According to Supreme Understanding, author of How to Hustle and Win, “Hip Hop is just a euphemism for the Black and Brown underclass.” The author who also released the widely circulated guideline, “How to Spot an Agent,” also said, “Hip Hop is not as apolitical as people think. Many mainstream artists have a political element.”

Perhaps the most detailed evidence of law enforcement’s attack on Hip-Hop is the first hand report of the the NYPD’s “first Hip-Hop cop,” Derrick Parker. The book mentions the infamous “Hip-Hop binder” that the Miami police used to keep files on Hip-Hop artists, as well as other surveillance activities against New York rappers.

What is not often mentioned is that, although Parker was primarily assigned to watch rappers, he also tailed the late Black nationalist, Dr. Khalid Abdul Muhammad, whose voice was sampled on early Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and Tupac Shakur songs. This is proof that you don’t have to be a criminal nor a Hip-Hop superstar to be under the watchful eyes of the “Alphabet Boys.”

Just as the FBI used the techniques that it developed fighting the mob during the ’30s on activists during the Civil Rights Era, they have used the same techniques that they use to go after drug dealers on Hip-Hop artists of today.

This has raised a lot of questions that always go unanswered.

Since, according to John Potash, an FBI agent was present when Biggie Smalls was murdered, why didn’t he stop the bullets? Also, with so much government surveillance going on, how can the Feds catch rappers like T.I. with guns, but not see the trucks that are hauling them into the ‘hood? And, if they can catch members of street crime families trafficking drugs, how can they miss the planes and ships that are bringing them into this country?

This actually goes back to the Civil Rights era when activists asked if the FBI had so thoroughly infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, why were civil rights workers still being murdered? The flimsy answer given then – that they were an “investigative” unit not a “preventive” unit – I suppose, still applies today.

The mistrust of law enforcement leaves the ‘hood caught in the middle between those who do dirt and hide behind the “anti-snitch” attitude of the streets, and law enforcement agencies that refuse to admit why the “stop snitchin’ ” code was created in the first place.

If we are going to stop crime in the ‘hood, we must first have an honest conversation about government surveillance and its ramifications.

But until then, as GZA said on “I Gotcha Back”:

“I gotcha back but you best to watch your front/because it’s the brothas who front/they be on a hunt.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).