The Rap Avengers: Does Hip-Hop Need a Hero?


“One day I got struck by Knowledge of Self/ It gave me super-scientifical powers” – “Can’t Stop the Prophet, Jeru Tha Damaja

It’s 2012, and Hip-Hop is on the eve of destruction. Fortunately, Earth’s mightiest MCs have banded together to save us from the evil corporate villains who are bent on destroying the culture. The group known as the Rap Avengers has sworn to never again let fear, egos, or personal differences prevent them from fighting for the Hip-Hop principles of Peace, Unity, Love, and having fun…

Well, I guess some things only happen in the movies…

Without a doubt, The Avengers, will go down in history as one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters ever. For those who aren’t down with comics, it’s a movie based on the long-running, comic book series about how a bunch of Earth’s strongest heroes unite from time to time to kick butt when some galactic gangstas try to take over the planet.

However, historically, most comic book heroes have bypassed the ‘hood.

Old School comedians used to joke that Superman would fly over a burning apartment building full of kids in the ghetto to save a cat stuck in a tree in the ‘burbs.

Relatively speaking, there has always been a lack of Black superheroes. Back in the day, there were only a couple of sidekicks with “Black” in their names like Captain America’s trusty homie, “The Black Falcon”, or the token Black guy from the old Super Friends cartoon, “Black Vulcan.” The only major heroes were “The Black Panther,” who held down his African kingdom, “Storm,” the fine sista from the X-Men, and Power Man (Luke Cage, hero for hire), who wouldn’t even open the door for your grandma unless she tipped him five bucks. The only ones who really repped’ the Black community were Fat Albert, “The Brown Hornet”, and “Verb Man” from School House Rock.

Unfortunately , many of the real heroes who were really down for the people never made it into the comic books, nor the history books.

In the early 20th Century, Marcus Garvey formed the African Legion, and during the 1950s, Robert Williams formed the Deacons for Defense to protect the Black community. There were also groups in the ’60s such as the Black Liberation Army and the Republic of New Africa who fought for the people.

Other than Black organizations, there were groups like the Young Lords (Puerto Rican Nationalists) and AIM (American Indian Movement). According to legendary Hip-Hop photographer and author of several books including They Call it Graffiti, Ernie Paniccioli, “Red Pride and Red Power were reawakened by AIM and their demands for land rights, Freedom of Religion and the right to determine their own destiny still resonate in the hearts of native people throughout this stolen land.”

Despite the numerous ‘hood flicks glorifying Black-on-Black violence and the Tyler Perry-like movies, Hollywood has largely ignored the real heroes of oppressed communities. Until this day, there has only been one major movie made about Malcolm X (Spike Lee’s X) and only one about the Black Panther Party (Mario Van Peeble’s Panther).

There have been a few good fictitious movies, like The S#### Who Sat by the Door, based on the novel by Sam Greenlee about a CIA agent who used his skills to politicize gang members. And, DROP Squad, executive produced by Spike Lee, about a squad who went around “reprogramming” sellouts, much like Ice Cube’s 1991 video for “True to the Game”. Interestingly enough, according to Brian Ward in his book, Just My Soul Responding, there was a real DROP Squad in the late ’60s known as the FPC (Fair Play Committee) that put heat on industry cats who they felt were exploiting the community.

Over the years, Hip-Hop has had its own heroes such as Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation and Rev. Conrad Tillard’s (formerly Minister Conrad Muhammad) Movement For Change, which sought to bring peace and unity to the culture. And more recently, you have groups like the Uhuru Hip Hop Movement and the Militant Mind Militia who are trying to use Hip-Hop for Black Liberation.

However, the question becomes, why hasn’t a strong gang of conscious, super-lyrical MCs banded together to battle the corporate-owned rappers who spit ignorance and rescue the art form from the industry evil doers? After all, crews such as MMG (Maybach Music Group) and YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires) have no problem coming together to lock down the industry, with no apologies.

There could be several reasons. Maybe fear of being forever blackballed by an unforgiving industry. Or perhaps, it’s a matter of over-sized egos. Who knows?

Could be that the same classism that has prevented other organizations from uniting for the common good of the ‘hood has also affected Hip-Hop.

Maybe we all aren’t fighting for the same thing.

According to Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. of the POCC/BPPC (Prisoners of Conscience Committee/Black Panther Party Cubs), “We do not have the same interests. Some people benefit from our people’s detriment.”

Bottom line is, no dude with a Viking hat and a sledgehammer is going to come down from the clouds and help us. And, we all know that Captain America ain’t gonna save us.

And since we have been waiting for a super troupe of Hip-Hop heroes to save rap music for, at least, the last decade, and the closest thing we have gotten is a Tupac hologram. Maybe they ain’t comin’ either…

No one is gonna save us but us. And this goes for the ‘hood and Hip-Hop.

It just takes one person to start a movement, and the rest will follow. So, maybe the hero lies within you.

Like Nas said on “Hero”, “The game needs him/plus the people need someone to believe in.”

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, on his website, or on Twitter (@truthminista).