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Troy

"Hiphop as a whole is wack."

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By default music played a role in the escape of slaves "O Canaan" and songs of that like which gave directions to passage as well as songs at camp meetings allowed the passage of information. Music was a tool. As the abolitionists began building the case for ending slavery their a number of songs that were made to assist in delivering information and building a better understanding of the movement. While gospel was not influential in initiating the great migration, it did inspire the blues and those songs weren't just about good times. You should know that "times is getting harder" and songs like detroit and depression... Those songs actually sent the message that moving north wasn't exactly what it seemed. The gospel songs were key in establishing the community that led to the foundation of what would become the civil rights movement. I honestly don't know how you just spouted all of that about the Harlem Renaissance and completely overlooked James Weldon Johnson or even the series of blues written by Langston Hughes! Music didn't propel the Harlem Renaissance?

When I say rock and roll I'm talking Chuck Berry. The music itself was a movement that generated RnB and Motown which was a political act just by its creation. I could find support if I took the time to look up how the Black Arts Movement was intricately woven into Black Power and how artists like James Brown and Ray Charles forced integration before the political acts of blacks accomplished this.

If you think music wasn't and hasn't been a motivating factor in all of the movements of black life, then we definitely have a completely different idea about how important music is to Black people. In my mind hip hop's inability to create a sustaining movement that empowers is at the core of many issues in our community. Our music has always been fun, entertaining and engaging. It has also held us up and provided a positive face for those who never interact with blacks. Hip hop with all of the positive things I've tried to fight for, has made it okay to call us niggas and bitches. How powerful would it be if rap music changed how we addressed each other? How powerful would it be if we created songs like Nina Simone and Gil Scott?

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What you say is interesting.  But I still don't agree that the movements in question stemmed from music or achieved their goals because of it. The meager number that Harriet Tubman transported on the underground railroad  didn't depend on music; These were surrepticious one on one expeditions and music obviously didn't have a successful impact on failed slave uprisings.   Or did Lincoln  free the slaves because abolitionists stood around singing songs. Also, I wasn't aware that Black Gospel music spawned the Blues.which have been around a long time or that songs motivated or inhibited Blacks when it came to migrating North.  I also dismiss your contention that a few obscure blues songs by poet Langston Hughes "propelled" the Harlem Renaissance. I will give James Weldon Johnson points for the Negro national anthem but still this song was an accompanment as was "We Shall Overcome" for the Civil Rights movement which was spurred by Rosa Parks and Emmit Till not Chuck Berry.  I would further argue that R&B ala Motown  came from DooWop not Rock and Roll.  But, just because I don't' think music germinated movements doesn't mean that I don't think that it's wonderful!  

 

So we remain at odds. I think the reason we cannot agree is because we are conceptualizing things differently.    LOL  

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That is what is going on but I would suggest researching music and its ability to change things. At the core of communication for many cultures is the drum. Many would argue that the removal of the drum from the African in America is partially to blame for the way slaves were broken. I definitely feel that the shift in music from loving and empowerment, to disrespect and ignorance is the thing that has broken black America. There has always been racism and various isms in society. There have always been roadblocks. The one constant in our communities was music. But I'm not alone in this. If you think about the regression in the black community it coincides with the rise of Hip-Hop and Reaganomics. Black music lost its voice and control...the griots were silenced. James Brown went from black and proud to living in America. Jazz moved from Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra to Kenny g. The beauty and power of Motown was lost in the moonwalk and hip-hop was silenced by corporate America.

Oddly enough if you research the origins of We Shall Overcome you will find that it is tied into the labor movement and foundation of unions so this point had more to do with how music actually shaped a movement prior to Rosa. You should also look at the Freedom Singers and Berenice Reagon who wrote about this. I remember teaching a course and the essay music in our hands was my one of the sources I used in argumentative essays. I'm on my kindle so I'm not going to dig that deep but I definitely plan on revisiting this in a book. I think people are failing to understand just how influential music is. Also James weldon johnson was more than that one song and his life and music shaped more than most blacks know.

To minimize the importance of music and say that Lincoln didn't free slaves because of music, or slave uprisings weren't successful is to overlook that often slave uprisings were planned during camp meetings were faux worship was taking place. Music undercut what the masters thought was taking place and music humanized blacks and assisted in abolition. And that meagerly number was at least a number attempted by Tubman and countless songs were involved.

But we are looking at music differently. I see solutions there.

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I am not minimizing music.  I am elevating it by giving it its full due. It exists independently of everything else and is universal, - in sync with the pulse of humanity. Movements come and go but music exists independently of them.  "We Shall Overcome" is a song is a song is song.  The civil rights movement  proved to be superficial but "We shall Overcome" is still what it always was; a song. 

 

You've relegated music to being a tool. I think of it as a companion.  But this is quibbling. It can be both and that's the beauty of music; it different things to different people.     

 

 

Also, you and Troy keep saying that corporations have taken over Rap/Hip Hop.  What do you guys mean by this?  Are moguls like Jay-Z and Dr. Dre. and Puffy Combes and Russell Simmons  a part of the problem or a part of the solution? 

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Yes Jay-Z, Dre, Puffy and Russell's, are part of the problem.  They, like Bob Johnson a generation before, are fantastically successful because they operate like or operate at a high level in corporations.  

 

However, they could absolutely be part of the solution.  But I don't see that happening.  I don't even hold that against them, they are no different that most people.  Besdies the media elevates them so it is hard to imagine them doing anything differently.

 

People celebrated gangsters like Bumpy Johnson while completely overlooking his illegal activity.

 

Like a drug dealer or a cigarette manufacturers corporations are about getting paid.  The impact on the culture is inconsequential.  If there is any benefit, that is purely incidental.  But they will tout all benefits and make believe the negative impact does not exist.  Cigarette manufacturers and drug deals create jobs, right? 

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How do we learn? Through repetition and by visually and auditory methods. The most prominent method of learning and teachingis through rhythm and cadence. This is why meter is so important in poetry. Repetition allows the mind to organize details in an efficient way. Whether we admit it or not music is a tool. That doesn't mean it isn't or doesn't offer simple pleasure and hedonistic satisfaction. Unfortunately music by default teaches through cadence and of course repetition.

So if a kid 50 years ago heard "my girl " over and over by the temptations when he approaches a woman he will do so based on what he has seen and heard. This means his approach will be full of sunshine on a cloudy day.

If a kid today watches music videos and listens to the same trappers over and over, he will approach a woman to "beat the pussy up like Emmit Till, " a line from one of cyniques favorite rapper: lil wayne.

Music evokes and provokes feelings. That is always what it does and always will. Now what does corporatizing hip hop do? Once businessmen realized the power and influence of the music the diversified approach to playlists on the radio changed. Before you had songs like:

The Message

Crack killed applejack

White lines

My philosophy

Self destruction

Heed the words by x clan

Ladies First by Queen Latifah

UNITY by Queen Latifah

Colors by Ice T

All in the same gang

And the list goes on and on with fight the power by public enemy played in the same rotation. As soon as corporate America gave trappers the ability to own labels they only allowed puffy, jay z, lil wayne and baby to sign artist who represented the street. These moguls, all of the people Troy mentioned, didn't sign the artists like krs one. And only Arrested Development snick through the door along with Digable planets as popular rap. Everything else became street and the kids and adults copied the style of what was presented.

At the same time the prison industrial complex grew. This is not a coincidence. Kids began acting out what they saw as successful: drug dealers turned rappers. Who became the big stars? Snoop, 50 cent, jay z, while the more socially aware rappers like black star were pushed to the fringes and out of radio rotation.

How do we learn? Repetition ... if a kid hears "bitches aint shit but hoes and tricks " and "fuck that nigga whoop that bitch" on the radio all day and watches videos with half naked women what do they mimic? In the late 80s rappers wore Africa patches and hbcu sweaters so did the kids. Today...

If that doesn't lay out the problem for anyone reading this I don't know what will. I'm on my kindle so I apologize for not using videos and links but I think these words are okay.

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Questions that come to my mind when I hear these familiar complaints.  Am I to believe that a nebulous cabal of evil white men known as corporate America force rap millionaires, who own their own labels, to put out records that fill black kids' heads with negativity so they can emulate the thug life and end up in prison? And, is it true that white suburban kids buy more rap albums than black kids? Further, what is the role of censorship in all of this?  Plus, since the "the art imitates life" axiom  can be applied to gangsta rap, is this a case of impresssionable kids being introduced to the street life or of them being provided with music they can relate to because the lyrics describe what they see in their environment?  Where is the credit due for the many kids who say they know that gangsta rap is just music and that they don't take its message seriously, kids who are apparently able to compartmentalize their music taste. 

 

And what can be done about black adults in the inner-cities who are responsible for filling their children's heads with sordidness because they are the role models who inspire Rap lyrics. What can be done about the indiscriminate breeding of young black females bringing children into the world who will replicate their aimless single mothers and absentee fathers and perpetuate a dead-end culture of illicitness and violence to be celebrated in song? They are the matrix of the thug life that rappers rhapsodize.   Eugenics is not a bad idea to me but it would never fly.  Baby mamas and their baby daddies are too comfortable in a lifestyle that pits these weave-wearin dramas queens against their saggin-pants bed mates, not to mention outcries of genocide that would emerge from black activists.  So there is little hope of reversing what thwarts black progress and inspires rap verses.   Classism will provide a niche for upwardly mobile Blacks but racism will continue to be a factor. It's a hard scenario to capture in rap vernacular. "Got-it- made niggas answerin' when you aks 'em whussup. Me, gettin paid cuz I know how to suck-up."

 

And speaking of kids acting out what they see, it seems like all these defiant black victims going down in a blaze of bullets from the guns of racists cops are becoming heroes who black youngsters want to be like.  Their lives have become so empty and meaningless that they are willing to risk them if it means that in death they will become famous and revered. In the past it was playing Cowboys and Indians but now it's homeboys and cops.  Bang! Bang!  You're dead.  Rest in peace, Pookey.  You were a good kid, but you challenged the wrong person. The latest victim  caught on tape being killed by over-reacting policemen is an 11 year old black kid loitering in a park, brandishing a toy gun, aiming it at passers-by.  When the cops were called and appeared on the scene, he pointed the gun at them and was shot down dead. SMH. Time for some repetitive rap lyrics brainwashing kids on how not to provoke trigger-happy cops. 

 

I'm done. 

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I think you know better than to think that either Troy or I are speaking about a network of white men. What we are discussing is the failure of our generation to build a movement that has empowered Blacks. Every generation up until ours has done their part in creating a stronger Black culture (or at least what they thought would be better) Hip-hop culture, our music, and our movies have contributed to the destruction of much of the progress that was attained through the 70s.

 

I tend to base my discussions on my life and what I find to be true. I do research a lot as well, but I always think my experience is often the best source (albeit isolated). I know for a fact when I was a child the door didn't have to be locked when I went to sleep. I was raised in the most impoverished neighborhood in Memphis. The child of a single parent household where 6 people lived in a two bedroom apartment. In the 70s I could walk down the street or 3 miles away without any fear for my life or threat. In the mid 80s to the late 80s  all of this shifted, but I still was not afraid of where I lived. I did however start seeing Crips and Bloods in Memphis. How is it this happened? We were introduced to it by rap music. We were still poor. I moved to California and in the early 90s even in the worst part of San Diego and LA, there was honor among thieves. What I think is interesting is that I have seen the influence of rap music over the last 20 years as it shifted from party and empowerment to party, misogyny and violence (this shift changed as the music became more popular... also just because white kids are buying doesn't mean Black kids aren't listening). So I'm not aiming in the dark. I've seen kids from Memphis to Los Angeles mimic their heroes. When I was in the classroom from 95 to 2011, I saw the acting out of the lyrics and music videos. As a basketball coach, I saw kids living what they thought was cool based on what they listened to. I lost three kids to it. These were kids that didn't even live in the neighborhoods, the worst neighborhoods in San Diego, who found themselves dressing and acting like their heroes. 

 

You can be done all you want, I'm not. I talk to kids every day or whenever I get a chance about how powerful words are. I know for a fact these kids and parents build their entire personas on what they see on television. You asked what about the kids who say they know it's just music... You know what internalization is so answer your own question. What people think is often subconscious and not on the surface and very often they don't even know what they believe. I've seen words, repetitious words destroy lives because those words became actions that couldn't be reversed or stopped. 

 

This is not a problem I'm sure you can see or understand because it's not the problem you grew up in. Your problem that you've seen and grown up in was Civil Rights. This new problem is a Hip-hop problem and the biggest problem with most people who are in a prominent position is they just don't see how this music has been so destructive. While you state a sarcastic statement in repetitious lyrics that teach kids not to be killed by cops. I actually think you are right. If rappers sat down and all organized and began to create empowering images of Blacks and created songs that could both party and uplift, maybe just maybe we could fix ourselves. Because at the end of the day, I'm not afraid of a cop. I'm more afraid of my own brothers... it wasn't like this before rap music and the attitudes it created in my generation.

 

I won't pretend to overlook the systemic problems: Reagan's cut to colleges, Clinton's removal of jail programs that reduced recidivism, the influx of guns and the horrible poverty that has generated gangs and drug dealers. But what I find interesting is that you seem to overlook that your generation damn sure had things a lot harder than my generation did and you didn't kill each other. Maybe having a common enemy in the White man was the saving grace of previous Blacks?

 

If our(black folks) situations were far more dire all the way through the 70s, what the hell happened that made my generation so violent? It couldn't be that the images and words we hear daily, that have changed us created our problems could it? No way, it's stupid to think music and words can affect the mental status of people. That's impossible right?

 

In regard to the the cabal of white men controlling Black men, it amazes me that none of these Black men (wealthy) black men have taken the time to create distribution networks, television stations or anything of substantial value to the culture outside of increasing the wealth of white men and themselves. We have more black millionaires than in any moment in history, but we have more death and decreasing college enrollment and broken families now than any other time. Keep thinking that it's not in the music, I will keep talking and writing about how it is.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427101606.htm

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/neuroscientist-music-can-change-your-mood-improve-your-health/

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I'm not stuck in the '50s civil rights era or removed from what's happenin in today's world. I lost my 22 year old grandson and a 17 old grand nephew to drive-by shootings. Waaay back in the 40s my late husband lost his uncle to gun fire.What does this prove?  Nothing more than what your story proves. Shit happens. I don't think either grandson or nephew were big rap fans; they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have another 23 year old grandson who has served time in jail and has 2 babies by 2 different skeezers.  He's a triflin dude who thinks Lil Wayne is a fool but likes him just the same.  Whatever. You can't win 'em all.   I have other grand children who are just the opposite. Over-achievers - who also listen to rap.

 

I don't live in a bubble, I live in a suburb of Chicago and previously lived in another suburb of Chicago which was a microcosm of Chicago aka "Chi-raq" because of the crime and violence that permeates the streets of its Bronzeville and Hispanic neighborhoods. This is nothing new in Chicago. It has always gone on but was under reported which was why in days past it was known as the underworld.  So Rap is art imitating life and - life is a bitch. And the NRA is an enabler.

 

Your love-hate relationship with Rap music kinda clouds the issue. You wondered previously which came first the "egg" of rap or the "chicken" of the thug life.  Have you decided on an answer to this yet? 

 

I'm so used to people blaming things on the omnipresent  White Man that I wasn't sure just who you and Troy were blaming for the havoc of Rap.  I thought at first you were maybe talking about the white Ad industry when you used the code "Corporate America" because advertisers are the pillars of corporations

 

Sorry, but your monologue didn't shock or enlighten me. (I've heard it all before including what the guy on the video is saying.  Question: Who are the villains?  Da white man or da niggas puttin out the records? It's all very ambiguous. ) "Time brings change" has always been my mantra and currently my "hope" for the future. 

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If you read what I wrote to Troy you would have seen where I said that I was attempting to argue the positive aspects because only the negative aspects are always presented. Troy thought I was naive about how powerful the negative aspects are. Message boards are a trap and that's why people avoid engaging because no matter what is said it gets lost in the back and forth.

There are positives and negatives in everything being a student of the culture means I can talk about both and that's what is needed an open dialogue about hip-hop. If we both spouted off the personal losses due to guns and drugs it would be a book.

The underworld in crime has always existed. More media allows us to see it. But I know for a fact kids in every neighborhood didn't know what GDs 4chs, Vls and b stones were like they do now. Just as they didn't know what crips or bloods were until rappers killed off the voice of positivity in hip hop. The underworld is now the mainstream and the branding of cities is a part of this: Memphis 10 a key, Lefrak is Iraq, Chiraq all branding reinforced by hip hop and things like world star hip hop. Hell one of the biggest hits made by a former correctional officer combines the worst of two cities, everyday I'm hustling...by rick Ross. The guy is from Clarksdale Mississippi, passes himself as from fade county Florida, calls Miami - m -I ya yo, has the name of one of the biggest drug dealers in LA and shouts out Chicago's Larry Hoover in the first line. Kids and adults were singing this song and copying the attitude.

My point is this in the last 20 years hip hop has become the only music not to uplift and build the black community. I see solutions in fixing my culture and so do many others. Will it end gangs and drugs? No not as long as there is poverty...but the moment a people start coming together and working towards a common cause things happen. My hope is that hip hop wakes up and realizes its power.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00u0-gu-x20

 

https://soundcloud.com/wearedelasoul/de-la-soul-feat-chuck-d-the-people

 

This is what Hip-Hop sounds like and this is what is needed. More of this and we can start fixing it. This song came out yesterday: http://www.wearedelasoul.com/products/51944-the-people-feat-chuck-d-digital-download?utm_source=Soundcloud&utm_medium=Soundcloud&utm_campaign=The+People

 

This will never come on the radio and that is what is meant by corporate influences controlling the music. I get the DeLa Soul e-mail so when something drops I get notified. I then share it with my facebook and twitter crowds. I also interact with a lot of young rappers and I make sure they hear it so that they can step their games up. But it takes the Puffy and Jay Zs and Lil Waynes who have the ear of the adults and kids because of mainstream to begin sharing and producing this type of music. It takes these guys to use that money and open grocery stores and business and to start building the infrastructure for Black America. If my generation doesn't start we will be two generations removed from the Civil Rights movement and what is happening to us at the hands of each other and cops will compound the lack of reading and disinterest in education. 

 

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OK.  The Devil's Advocate has vacated her role. -_-   The discussion has run its course.  Started out with you glorifying Hip-Hop and me dismissing it, and ended with you bemoaning Gangsta Rap and me defending its authenticity.  Progress? I dunno.   :blink:

 

 Anyway, continue to pursue your dream of a better tomorrow for today's black community.  Lotsa Luck! B)

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Regarding Wise Intelligent's assertion that the high school drops outs are more conscious because the are more likely to march than their college educated peers.  This has less to do with consciousness and more to do with spare time.

 

He suggested Rappers did not invent the uses of the n-word, but he has to understand that it is used way more today, in the media, than ever before and rap artists are almost single-handedly responsible for this.

 

I was completely unaware that the popular of Black rap artists is waning!

 

img6.jpg

 

With this knowledge what is the point?  Perhaps we need to launch a new musical genre. 

 

I leave you with this, my kid was playing this song (8 million views on youtube in 2 weeks).  She is in her early twenties and never knew a world without rap music of the form.  Sure she is a college graduate, but I think she, all of her peers, and the rest of us would be better off if this music was not being drummed into their heads.

 

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I love Hip-Hop and I despise what is being done with it. That song above by De La Soul and Chuck D is what inspires me and let's me know that if we can get emcees on the same page ( a big if, but definitely worth fighting for) then we can finally get progress and with it we can begin to change things. I have to keep pushing and writing about it and teaching because it's what I can do. I can only control my immediate circle and with my words I can possibly reach more people. Q-Tip admitted Lil Wayne into the Zulu Nation this weekend. If Lil Wayne can begin to shape the minds according to the philosophy of the Zulu Nation his popularity alone could move Hip-Hop forward more than all of the artists I talk about. These things have to happen, if they don't we will definitely stay on the treadmill.

 

Troy if your daughter was listening to Jean Grae or Tink (Cynique she's a chicago emcee) then this would be where we could go with the discussion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9VpgGuU38w

 

There is a new shape to Hip-Hop starting, but it is not being promoted. It needs work and once again it's still a young artform, but it has to be more proactive and responsible. It's the only movement Blacks now have. We don't have any other voices right now and I fear that we won't have anymore voices. Cynique is right, we've come full circle and it's time to close this down. I'm very happy that I engaged in this and would do it again.

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