Archive for the ‘ The Message ’ Category

Are Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka modern day Minstrels?

Paradise Gray of the Legendary Hip-Hop group X-Clan directs this scathing critique of the current climate of rap music featuring Jasiri X, Idasa Tariq and Living Proofe and produced by Idasa Tariq. Jasiri X edited the video. He states, “whoever got a problem with it let me know… but you know it’s true.”

More Info on Jasiri X: Twitter / Facebook

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Dr. Martin Luther King – I Have A Dream


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have A Dream Download

ON THE DREAM OF FREEDOM (1963): “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed . . . that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

24/7 BBoy

Written by Omniscion

I was born and raised to the beat, I’m not considered the average black guy, and I’m not considered the average hip hop head, but I am both. I don’t wear ridiculous over-sized clothes, and I rarely buy new gear, I work hard, 7:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday and I drive a beat up old car with a weak stereo (while my girl has a nice car). I watch about 30 minutes of TV a week (at the most) and I spend most of my time in my office at home listening to hip hop and playing video games and discussing hip hop in detail with my friends over ventrilo. I live and breathe hip hop. Not that radio madness, real elemental Hip Hop.

My first memories of hip hop are blurry at best, things like listening to AM radio hip hop shows at 5:30 on Thursday with my older cousin while he explained who everyone was and taught me how to pop-lock. But I recall 2 things in particular very clearly; The first is purchasing EPMD – Strictly Business with my own money (I was like 12), and the second is going to a banquet with my friend, Kwasi and his mother. while everyone is really excited this baseball guy is talking at this dinner, Kwas and I are writing terrible rhymes on the back of the dinner place-mats about the food and how bad it was.

About maybe 4 years later comes my next clear hip-hop memory. I and the same friend are in the car with our “producer” going to a hip hop show at a Sacramento north area high school. We’re performing, but we’re nowhere near the top act. The first two guys to come out are thuggish imitations of Los Angeles cookie cutter image at the time creased and colored and mumbling at everyone about drugs and fighting and death. It was like an illness. We were on the edge ourselves. It was what everyone was doing and we weren’t old or wise enough to know better, but somehow we did. the music was in us, the KRS, Big Daddy Kane, The Biz, LL, Ultramagnetics, the Audio Two… all that stuff was bouncing around in our heads all the time. Kwasi and I used to play a game where we would recite a quotable and the other would have to finish it and name the artist and album. When the time came we got on stage, I remember reciting what we had all rehearsed so many times and Kwasi (known as K-style) calls for our producer to drop the beat and he gets the crowd to clap and I felt sort of frozen “it could all fall apart” is what I was thinking and then I said it, “we’re going to do this the way it was supposed to be done!” and it was like I wasn’t saying it, like there was something else taking hold of me. I wondered if this was what people in church felt like when the Holy Spirit took hold of them in church. It was like that maybe, but I felt like I was surrounded by devils and the crowd was looking for me to lead them out of it all safely.

We free styled for a good 15 minutes. I came from the head flawlessly, K-style did a written and so did Mike (mic), the crowd was involved and everyone was propping us when we left the stage. We were the youngest group and only ones to represent real hip hop. The headliners did the same as we did, it kind of made me angry because I had seen them before and they have never bothered to try and freestyle at any previous shows. I tried to battle their group leader after the show, but he acted like he couldn’t hear me. But he could hear me, and some of the people in the cipher wanted me to get my shot at him. I never did.

The group eventually fell apart. Honestly, it was my fault I couldn’t bring myself to do gangster music after I felt the energy from a real freestyle session and that’s what was selling, so it was what our producer was pushing. K-style had always been better than everyone else in presence and lyrics, and he had also always been a bit rougher under the exterior than me as well. For him to do hardcore style stuff wasn’t much of a stretch. I was out for sure when I realized I could live my life content to battle kids on the sidewalk in Davis, downtown sac, and occasionally off of florin or in Arden mall. That’s what I was built for, I felt like that’s what it was really about. Some people want to make money from it, but in the end, all we want is to feel good. Battling cats made me feel good. I finished high school the hard way (at continuation school), did 2 years in college till I realized I would much rather have money for fun than an education. I continued through a string of horrible futureless jobs until around 24 years old, I settled down. I didn’t need to battle anymore. I just wanted to hear it, I liked to school cats, but I needed to really apply my mind now, I had to get on with my life. I didn’t want to be 30 years old sporting the hottest new styles with my kids under my arm while I try and get some chickens number during their weekend visit.

Now, just to recap my life as a b-boy for you: when I was 12 I started backpacking, I hit the streets with my walkman and I didn’t look up till I was around 22. Alternatively, at about 17 I started smoking weed and I hit the trees hard. One night, at about age 24, I was smoking with my friend Gabe and we came to the conclusion that we needed to get things done. We were surrounded by the hoodiest of hood-rats at the time and we just looked at them and realized that these weren’t the kind of women we would be happy to see our children with or around. I absolutely stopped smoking weed and never looked back. I made moves too, just to back it all up. On a side note, Gabe is still a DJ and damn good one, he spins house at several clubs all over town and works a full week if not more. He took his time and made life out of it while he was working as a salesman. I went back to technical school and got a degree in microcomputer operations. I was an artist, doing graph at some point and I was a computer nerd trying to make web pages at some other points. I liked video games and I loved music. Before I made the choice to go back to school I didn’t know what to do.

To get through school I did a bunch of office jobs till I hooked up with EarthLink and did tech support for 3 years. EarthLink tech support went Indian right after my scholastic career ended and I got my degree. At the time my degree was worthless. The tech industry had died and so did my hopes with it. I did several jobs to survive and ended up at a video game store for another 3 years where I met customers who were guys just like me who had done well. We all had one similarity. We all woke up one day and decided that we wanted to be an adult or at least successful, and none of us gave up hip hop. Not even slightly. It revitalized my soul to meet people like that and one day I was mentioning some of my issues at work to a guy and he told me straight, “you made it this far, you only got a little ways to go. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to take you any further here.” Those words hit me like a truck, and with the next big dispute at work, I quit on the spot and found myself on the street again leaving that place behind not to look back. I was imprisoned in my own self image for three years, believing I couldn’t do any better, even after I had made an effort to really get somewhere. In two weeks I got a job making double what I had made after 3 years there, and I left that job too. Currently I work in a nice office with a door, at my own desk, with my own phone, and my own distinctive job to do. I intend to stay here a long, long, time. At my desk I have two computers and I make web pages most of the day when I’m not goofing off in email or in the break room with my coworkers (most of which are my own age). But I promise you, if you ever see me working quietly and keeping my eyes locked on my screen, part of my meditation is listening to hip hop in a headphone ear-bud in my left ear. I’m 32 years old, I’m still a b-boy and a hip-hop-head and no matter what I’m doing, what I’m wearing, or who I’m working for… nothing can ever really change that.

Soundtrack to this story:
DJ Krush – Light (Can You See It) Download
from MiLight (1997, Mowax/FFRR)

I Have A Dream – MLK


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have A Dream Download

ON THE DREAM OF FREEDOM (1963): “So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed . . . that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.”

Watts Fire, Watts Poets


Poetry that kills

Excerpt 1
Excerpt 2
Celebration
What Color is Black?
Pain
There’s a Difference Between a Black Man and a N_gger
Response to a Bourgeois N*gger
from The Watts Prophets: Things Gonna Get Greater, Watts Prophets 1969-1971 (2005, Water Records)

Enter the Watts Prophets. I think it is too simple to say folks like the Watts Prophets and Last Poets can be regarded as the direct roots of Rap music aesthetic. For one, MC’s setting off a party and poets inciting revolution are two different goals. We can’t deny the influences, especially during the Afrocentric era, but what links these two movements–Black Power and Hiphop–together is the struggle to become that voice for communities on the margins–whatever the message. Black Power poets of this generation defined the future politics of Hiphop later manifested with artists like Public Enemy, NWA, X-Clan.

The story of the Watts Prophets’ formation follows the flames of the 1965 Watts Riots. The Los Angeles region of Watts had a long thriving Black Arts movement in the tradition of Charles Mingus and Ornette Coleman. The Watts Writers Workshop would be started in 1966 by a progressive Jewish Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg. From here, Amde Hamilton, Otis O’Solomon, Odie Hawkins, Richard Dedeaux would meet to craft and perform their pieces. They would later add Dee Dee McNeil, a Motown Contract songwriter, who conducted most of the music accompanyment on their first album, Rappin Black in a White World. By 1975, an FBI-counterintelligence agent had burnt down the Watts Writers Workshop which included a brand new theater and all remnants of the scene.

From hearing these pieces, there is no question that music and politics today is a far cry from the justified Black Rage and urgency the Prophets articulated. This isn’t your normal friendly theatrical spoken word group at your local bougie coffee shop. What you get is a first hand listen to the conflicts, critiques and tensions within the Black Community and rage against systematic White supremacy.

You might recognize the “rapping blacks/facts” chant on Excerpt 1 sample from Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb. Excerpt 1 is made up of the opening pieces–Sell Your Soul/Take It/Instruction/Amerikka. Excerpt 2 opens with Richard Dedeaux’s “Freedom Flames” as it segways to the question of defining “What is a Man”.

In “There’s a Difference…& Response…”, we get the critique of the growing Black middle class. The Black Power movement came at the height of questioning the issue of Integration or Segregation. Adding to the charged content, the Prophets created dynamic stimulating pieces: the clanging chants of “Pain” hitting like hard steel or the ticking alarm clock of linking Blackness beyond skin in “What Color is Black?”

Though timeless as they are, let’s hope one day pieces like these won’t sound so relevant. And yes, if you haven’t found out by now I am one of those folk who believe you can’t talk about race without power so any future arguments of “what if these pieces were white folk talkin wouldnt that be racist” please spare them. Because when that happens, there is an OBVIOUS balance of voices and systems in full effect as we speak (anyone hear Bush talk today?)

-BoogaLeo

blogger’s note: Thanks to Jeff Chang for the info provided in the album insert.

Also, my posts after Sat will becoming less frequent as I will be in New Orleans for a year-long AmeriCorp Fellowship program. So my goal is to whip out as much music as I can until then, so bear with me. Thanks for your constant support and I will be contributing as much as I can out in NOLA. peace.