Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Bigger than Hip-Hop

I'm guilty of it. You're probably guilty of it, you know, it usually goes something like this "I listen to hip-hop, not rap." The distinction between hip-hop and rap is one that "heads" have been making for years. While there are number of nuanced arguments about Hip-Hop as a culture, the hip-hop versus rap dichotomy is outdated and useless.

So the gist of the argument is usually any commercial rap music is classified as "rap" and anything that may be underground or semi-authentic is "hip-hop." The water usually gets murky when you ask about folks who have cross over appeal, but ya'll know what I mean. I recently realized, I can no longer do this bullshit distinction between hip-hop and rap. First let me make it clear, I'm not saying that I can't tell some difference between the two. This doesn't mean that I don't watch 106 and Park with a pain in my stomach. None of that changes, but my decision is one that is much like many disgruntled married couples, I can't split (hip hop from rap)... because of the children.

When I first started spewing the distinction it was in cinder block dorm rooms, but now that I hear the argument I hear it on TV, on websites, in blogs. As someone who considers himself somewhat of a scholar of Hip-Hop, I can appreciate a theoretical distinction. But I'm trying to look at it from the bottom up, not top down. I really started thinking about this distinction when I was reading blac(k)ademic's post on NYOil's video "Ya'll should all get lynched".

Over at blac(k)ademic NYOIL's video and comments have created quite a stir. In reading through I recalled that people like to distinguish between hip-hop and rap. As someone who consumes more hip-hop than rap, I can honestly say, they're not all that different. Let me go through my issues Rolodex: misogyny - check, homophobia - check, violence - check, drugs - check (yes, weed counts), foul language - check, materialism - check (yo rapping about your sneakers counts too!).

So what's the deal with pretending like hip hop music is the holy grail and rap is a red keg cup? Maybe I've just been reading into to it too much but so much of our quest for authenticity in Hip-Hop now is social class related. Do you think it's a coincidence the only location you can still hear hip-hop on the airwaves is college radio or satellite radio? I remember a couple years ago hearing someone say, "Hip-Hop didn't die, it just moved to Long Island and wears a backpack." Let's be real, if you've been to a hip-hop show anywhere in the US in the past 10 years you know like Common said, "When we perform it's just coffee shop chicks and White dudes." The quest for the latest hip-hop takes us to message boards, to overpriced coffee houses, and to Tuesday night performances at our local blind pigs. There's something peculiar about that to me. If we're so hip-hop and the music is the music of the people, why don't I see my people in those spaces? Could it be that my people are in a different place?

At the opening of NYOIL's video you see an image of Cam'ron. Now I will admit that I'm not a huge Cam'Ron fan, but I do listen to some of his stuff.

Aside - Want a fun game? Here it go! I try to see how many "Cam'Ron lines" I can make up using Ben and Jerry's ice flavors- try it! Here's a head start, "I was chilling with a married mocha honey, her man walked in, so I chubbied the hubby."

Sorry, like I was saying, many hip-hop heads don't really mess with Cam'Ron but you know who does? Black youth! Please just go up to Harlem and see if Dip Set isn't an epidemic. See if they aren't Chicken Noodle Soupin', see if in Atl they're not Snappin and getting Beamed up. My friends, the music that is reaching our kids is no longer Self-Destruction, it's more Shake Sumthin'. If that is where youth are, if that is where the future is, if that is who is supposed to be affected by the Hip-Hop movement, that's where I need to be, if I truly care.

Now being there doesn't mean you have to support all that it is, but it's foolish to hold onto something that is marginal and disconnected from our youth. Trust me, I feel like I'm part-time hip-hop librarian because I always have to go into the annals to find songs that concentrate on a single issue that I can use with youth on social issues. It means that we gotta meet Black youth where they are at and move them forward from there. It means talking to them about why NYOIL makes a song like this and then walking through the history of the figures he mentions, the history of lynching, and the histories of power. In that process you're going to challenge whoever made the original song, but music is a gateway to our social world, not a perfect explanation.

We can take songs like this as an opportunity to reach more youth or we can continue to turn up our noses and say we listen to hip-hop and not rap. I think NYOIL understands something that KRS didn't. I think Dead Prez understands something that PE didn't. I think Little Brother understands something that you don't. You can speak to people without preaching to them. That should have been the message we got from "The Message." Instead, we're left dropping crazy diatribes about neoliberalism to White kids in Schenectady. I think in 2006 we have to be ready to approach hip-hop and its potential differently than we have the past 10 years. Realize if Hip-Hop is the culture, the music that still gets to people is rap.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Saunders out, 2 weeks out, Sandals out?

So the big news in the Daily today is apparently Tony Saunders was ousted from the Black Student Union for being a member of Michigamua. This was not news to me, but now he's appealing his ousting saying that it violates the BSU constitution.

For those who don't know Michigamua is a "senior honor society" which has a long sorted history of misrepresenting and disrespecting Native folks. Black in 2000 their office space was occupied by a coalition of students of color. Eventually they agreed to not use Native artifacts anymore, etc. Just six years ago, it was common to hear folks of color displeased with Gamua and their practices. Fast forward six years and half the students of color here feel as if the Gamua offenses occurred in another lifetime. We definitely practice selective amnesia at U of M.

Now back to Tony, many folks know and love Tony. Let me make it clear, I really don't know him from Adam, but I have known he's been in Gamua since he got tapped last year, so I'm sure we disagree on somethings. Tony is president of the NPHC here and on MSA and was an officer in BSU.

*On a side note, how did you not think he was in Gamua? Black man comes out relative obscurity (participates largely in his frat) then wins a campus wide election with from my point of view little discernible platform... that was red flag number one for me*

In the Daily article it mentions how he refused to go public with his membership when the Daily published a list last year (both him and the Editor in Chief Donn Fresard made this decision, I wonder who else is hiding in woods?) but he said he did it to avoid what he's going through right now? Okay, let me try to rehash this argument. 1) He joins an organization that has historically and likely con temporarily disrespects students of color. 2) He is serving on a executive board that is meant to be a political arm to the Black community. 3) Instead of resolving this conflict up front, he chose to hide it. Makes sense right?

Since the controversy has come to light, Tony apparently has been receiving threatening phone calls. I don't think that's cool.

*Another side note, did you notice the Daily article says it was someone from BSU... has that been confirmed or is that speculation?*

But I definitely think his choice to join a organization that is known to go back on its word and disrespect our community of color was one he has to stand on. His classmate Nicole Stallings came out when the group when public, she suffered her hits, but she's MSA president and living life pretty well from what I hear.

*Dammit another side note, I wonder is Nicole standing in Solidarity with him?*

While I believe in including folks in our pan-African agenda, I do think lines have to be drawn. I think the decision to not have Tony in a leadership role is a wise one. That's my two cents.

We are approximately 2 weeks away from the vote on Proposal 2. Vote no on 2. I am not a 501c3, so I can say this loudly and repeatedly!!!! Tell a friend.

It's getting cold outside in Michigan. Marc Hill has a hilarious post on sandals and white folks over here. Check out the comment that mentions the theory of ten.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Whoosh, Whoosh, that's the sound of...

deadlines passing by. I can't figure out where the heck my time is going. Sorry for my absence on the posts, but I'm a little bit busy these days. So I have a number of incomplete posts in my blogger account since my last post, so I'll try to finish this one.

This past week, the Young Americans for Freedom hosted their "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day." They originally scheduled the even at U of M for September 28th, but YAF chickened out. I heard a number of people rumble that they were not going to do the day because "the woman" who came up with it got fired. I thought it was really interesting that the Daily plastered Morgan Wilkins on their cover. Because she was "fired" I ran into a number of people who thought the event was off because the culprit was gone. As I suspected, she may have suggested the event, but the group was going to carry it out. I was unable to make it to the Diag on Thursday, but as this article outlines, the big story was BAM-N. Same script, different cast (well not really a different cast). Maybe I'm getting old, but their silencing of dialogue and reactionary antics are killing me... well hell that can't be my age, they've been annoying me since 2000. That's enough about them, not deserving of more space. Alternatively a number of student of color and ally orgs organized a peaceful counter-demonstration. Biggup up to that, as well as biggup to metro Detroit community that responded to the ignorance of YAF (shout out to Rashidah and Dawud - ya'll are fly).

Aight, there is much much much more going on right now, but that's all I have the energy to type on. I'm looking to put a couple more things up this coming week.