Sunday, December 25, 2011

Killin' for Candy and Concords

Killin' for Candy and Concords:
The Price of Black Life

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

"You ever once stop to think and wonder why it's so/We dont' know.
Cuz we're blinded by the fog of 'dro/ So we let it go"

Just Don't Learn- Brand Nubian

In the news today, an up and coming rapper was killed in a crowded Atlanta mall. According to authorities, Joe Blackmon aka "Killa Black" was standing in line for a pair of Air Jordan Concords when he, accidentally, knocked a Jolly Rancher out of the hand of the man in front of him. The man, described only as "an African American in a black hoodie with saggin' pants" pumped five rounds in him before fleeing the scene. Witnesses say that the crowd just stepped over the dying Blackmon like nothing happened ,some even refusing to let paramedics through for fear of losing their places in line...

Recently, people were shocked that Brick Squad affiliate, Slim Dunkin was murdered in an Atlanta studio, allegedly, stemming from a fight over a piece of candy. This tragic event was coupled by media images of mobs of people beating each other senseless over the new Air Jordan XI Concords.

Hip Hop has had its share of deaths; Scott La Rock, Jam Master Jay, Pac, Biggie to name a few. Unfortunately, the 'hood is full of tales of young brothas losing their lives over stepping on someone's sneakers or even staring too long at some cat at a stop light. While some may argue that violence permeates society and it is not a "black issue," until I see Justin Bieber chasing Justin Timberlake with an AK-47, I beg to differ. Most of the blood spilling on the streets of America pours out of black bodies and Hip Hop is, predominately, made up of black males.

It must be noted that his thing is bigger than Hip Hop. The issue here is the value (or lack thereof) that this society places on black life.

Although it is a historical fact that black folks were once the kings and queens of civilization, around the 15th century the value of black life begin to drop like the 50% off after Christmas sale at Wall Mart.

Man has been fighting man since the beginning of time and despite the historical romanticism, African civilization was not exempt as tribal wars have existed on the continent for thousands of years. However, it was not until the coming of the Portuguese that black life was given a discount price tag. During that period, European slave traders began to use the existing beefs between tribes to trade Africans for commodities. As Walter Rodney wrote in "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa" "it was so easy to set one against another that Europeans called it 'a slave trader's paradise."

The worst part of the trade was the exchange of Africans for weapons.

According to historian, Joseph Harris in his book , " Africans and Their History," "kings were sometimes given firearms to raid neighboring areas in exchange for prisoners of war."

In America, the technique of making the slaves fight against each other was perfected. Herbert Aptheker wrote in "American Negro Slave Revolts, " the dividing of the victims against themselves, the use of spies and the encouragement of traitors" were powerful tools to keep the slaves from rebelling.

This divide and conquer strategy was also used in the 60's during the Civil Rights /Black Power Movement as the FBI, through is COINTELPRO program, played black activists against each other. This caused the destruction of groups such as the Black Panther Party and led, ultimately, to the formation of "street gangs" in California.

It must be noted that, according to Mike Davis in his book "City of Quartz," the purpose of the original gangs was not to promote black on black violence but to protect the hood from white racist gangs such as the "Spookhunters" but after the destruction of the Black Panther Party, gangs such as the Bloods and Crips were formed and they saw "the enemy" as other black men. This was escalated by the introduction of high powered assault weapons and crack into the 'hood which Gary Webb in "Dark Alliance" alleged was a government conspiracy.

Simultaneously, you had the growing popularity of Hip Hop and it was not uncommon during the 80's for black lives to be lost over gold chains, Troop jackets, Jordans or other articles of clothing worn by their favorite Hip Hop artists.

So this leads us to where we are today with people being beat down for $180 sneakers that cost $12 to make in some sweat shop and young black men being killed over candy.

Psychologist Dr. Bobby Wright suggested that black people have been psychologically programed to kill other black people. In his essay "The Psychopathic Racial Personality," he wrote " historically, the European system has encouraged the killing of Blacks. Because Blacks have been led to believe that they are part of the psychopath's system, they simply follow the practice."

We have been conditioned by these historical events to consider black on black conflict not only a cultural norm but a reason for celebration that is ingrained in the minds of the children, often in very subtle ways. Even something as simple as Freestyle Friday on "106 and Park " conditions the young black mind to accept black on black aggression as normal behavior. Unfortunately, when this "dissin'" is carried into the streets, there are no celebrity judges to hold up score cards, only EMS workers with body bags and toe tags.

Back in 1989, Kool Moe Dee, as part of the Stop the Violence Movement, said "I never ever ran from the Ku Klux Klan, so I shouldn't have to run from a black man."

Unfortunately, until we deal with the origin of black on black violence we will always be headed for self destruction.

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott can be reached at (919) 451-8283

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Hip Hop

How the Grinch Stole Hip Hop:

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

"Don't you give me I'll that jive/'bout things that happened before I was alive"

Christmas Rappin'-Kurtis Blow

I ain't gonna front. One of my favorite X-Mass shows when I was a kid was, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I always thought it was so gangsta how an ugly green dude with a stank attitude could roll down to Whoville one night and rob the whole 'hood without waking anybody up. I guess the same way that somebody could steal Hip Hop without anybody noticing...

One of the hardest things to do is to break people out of their beliefs in myths. From childhood, we are taught to believe in a tooth fairy that leaves quarters under pillows and Easter bunnies that leave baskets on doorsteps. While most people grow out of such beliefs, the Hip Hop myth that if you hustle hard, you too can live the life of the rich and shameless that you see on tv seems to last from the cradle to the grave.

'Tis the season to believe in flying reindeer and talking snowmen. However, Hip Hop-wise, we must ask ourselves is the myth about a fat, old white dude sliding down "chimneys" in the middle of the night in the grimiest projects any less believable than the story of an overweight corrections officer becoming a drug dealin' superstar rapper?

Also, while no self-respecting "G" would be caught dead walking through the 'hood in a bright red Santa suit, that same dude would have no problem walking through the mall with his pants saggin' as a symbol of manhood.

Webster's dictionary defines myth as, "an unproved or false collective belief used to justify social institutions." While many Hip Hop fans co-sign this when talking about elves, they will give you the screw face when you are talking about Hip Hop.

Most religious or cultural myths are based on some historical truth or tradition and since Hip Hop has become a "religion" for some people, the same standard applies. While the roots of rap music can be traced back to the oral traditions of Africa, the same can be said about religion, as the three "major" western religions also have their roots in ancient African civilizations. One of the fathers of western theology, St Augustine once said, "What is known as the Christian religion existed even among the ancients and was not lacking from the beginning of the human race until 'Christ came in flesh."

While it is true that Christmas is rooted on the principle of "Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men, " it is imperative that we study how religions have been used for what the late historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke called "male chauvinist murder causes." The same goes for Hip Hop, as Afrika Bambaataa's vision of "Peace, Unity, Love and having fun" was jacked and has been used to promote the worst aspects of society.

According to Dean Dudley, in "History of the First Council of Nice" the use of Christianity as an excuse for military aggression can be traced back to around 300 AD when the Roman emperor, Constantine, supposedly, had a vision where a cross appeared with the inscription "IN HOC SIGNO VINCES" (Under this sign thou shalt conquer.) Following this were hundreds of years of the enslavement of conquered people under the guise of religion. But Hip Hop has also been used to enslave the minds of the masses by corporations who believe that rappers are worth more dead than alive. It must be said that we are not dissin' a belief system but how beliefs can be misused to manipulate the masses.

How many people are aware that when they are poppin' bottles in the club on Christmas night thinking that they are celebrating the "birth of Christ," according to Rev. Alexander Hislop in his book "Two Babylons," they are, actually, celebrating the 'Winter Solstice" or "Saturnalia" when the Romans got their drink on ? (among other things.)

While it may be true that "Jingle Bells' being pumped over mall intercoms may subliminally seduce you into spending all your money on some bling for your shawtie, we can't forget that not too long ago songs like "Neva Scared" by Bone Crusher and "Tear da Club Up" by Three Six Mafia were accused of inciting violence.

Mental programing runs deep.

Although, the "Three Wise Men" who created Hip Hop may be Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash, it was some other evil, wise men who have destroyed it. These Ebenezer Scrooges are so ruthless that they would take Tiny Tim's crutches and give him a beat-down and pump holes in the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

In his book, "Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide ," Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango wrote about how people will "embrace and put energy into a thing without ever analyzing the impact, for better or for worst, it may have upon them and their posterity for generations to come. " The book goes on to expose the true origins of Santa Claus, Christmas Trees, etc,

Unfortunately, you stand a better chance telling a five year old child that Santa Claus is a phony than convincing a 30 year old Hip Hop head that the music that he has labeled "street certified" is really a product of Ivy League think tanks and Wall Street marketing campaigns.

We must begin to understand that Knowledge is power and the best way to keep a people powerless is to deny them access to it and keep them locked into accepting myths as undisputed Truth. So this year, the best gift we can give our children is Hip Hop's forgotten 5th element; Knowledge.

That's the real gift that keeps on giving.

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Free Kanye: Are Rappers Political Prisoners?

Free Kanye:
Are Rappers Political Prisoners?

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

"I’m locked inside a cell in me, I know that there’s a jail in you"

Words I Never Said - Lupe Fiasco

People from across the country traveled for hours to attend the December rally in Chicago to demand the freedom of their beloved comrade in struggle. For hours, speaker after speaker pounded on the podium demanding that their brother be released so that he could, once again, be free to speak truth to power as the crowd chanted wildly. They weren't chanting "Free Mumia" or "Free Mutulu." Nah, they were chanting "Free Kanye!"

Despite the title of Kanye West's 2004 cd "College Dropout" and the follow up "Late Registration," both were hailed, by many , as the return of politically conscious lyrics to the mainstream. With songs like "All Falls Down" and "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," if Kanye wasn't the second coming of Chuck D, in a rap world dominated by the Ying Yang Twins, he was close enough. Expectations were lifted even higher when he made the infamous post Hurricane Katrina observation that "George Bush don't like black people." But then something strange happened on the Road to Revolution, Kanye's lyrics were suddenly depoliticized and dumb downed. Nowadays, Kanye is more known for corny catch phrases and snatchin' mics from lil country girls at award shows than political wit.

Of course, Kanye isn't the only one. After all, Common's latest song isn't exactly droppin' science, either. But Kanye is killing the game,right now, as he is leading the pack in Grammy nominations, making him the biggest waste of talent at the moment.

While some may argue that West and the others just had creative changes of direction, others say that they are victims of the same political repression that has plagued radical thinkers for centuries. History books are full of examples of people who were imprisoned, exiled or assassinated for their ideas.

Historically, oppressive, ideological societies have hated free thinkers. Even Galileo was locked down in 17th century Italy for teaching Heliocentrism (the sun is the center of the Universe). So, free thinkers have always been a threat to the status quo because of their potential to free the minds others.

In America, the persecution was no different.

According to Dr. Charsee McIntyre, in "Criminalizing the Race," the colonization movement to deport free blacks to Africa was started because free blacks "served as models of Freedom to enslaved blacks and inspired resurrections. "

It must be noted that the threat of radical idealists within the music industry has also been a thorn in the side of the establishment.

In his book "The Covert War Against Rock" Alex Constantine alleges that the deaths of singers such as Peter Tosh, John Lennon and Bob Marley were really well orchestrated, politically motivated assassinations to silence them.

Perhaps the greatest threat to the social order has been Hip Hop. John Potash, in his book, "The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders" gives a rundown of artists who experienced government repression not because of club jams but because of their political activities. The book raises the issue that Tupac Shakur's gangsta turn after being sentenced to life on Death Row Records after his release from prison may not have been a coincidence. Perhaps it was just a plot to render one of the most potentially, powerful voices to ever pick up a mic, politically impotent and socially irrelevant.

We must understand that even while in the slammer, freedom fighters such as Dr. Martin Luther King (Letter From the Birmingham Jail) and George Jackson (Soledad Brothers) still managed to get their words to the masses. Also, Mumia Abu-Jamal has still been able to smuggle information to the people by reporting "Live From Death Row." The difference is, unlike many Hip Hop artists, they would not allow their minds to become incarcerated.

Although, some may consider comparing Hip Hop artists like Kanye West to political prisoners like Mumia and Mutulu Shakur ,blasphemous, when we consider that political incarceration is about locking down the mind more so than the body the connection is clear. While many acts of political repression have been carried out with guns and chains, in Hip Hop, it has been done by a signature on a contract. There is little difference between someone sentenced to a 10 year prison bid and someone being confined to a 10 year recording deal that restricts their freedom of speech in terms of their relevance to oppressed communities.

This idea is not without precedence. Lupe Fiasco has been outspoken about the industry's attempt to "dumb em down." Also, it was once rumored that former G Unit soldier, Young Buck had to remove a song about police brutality from his cd because of pressure from a mysterious "lyric committee."

Unfortunately, it is not just the artists that are in mental prisons but fans as well. As every time a rapper enters into a mental prison, he carries a legion of followers with him.

So, the question is how do we free Hip Hop artists and consequently, free the minds of their fans.

According to Peter Doggett, in his work, "There's a Riot Going On," back in the 60's, activists formed the Dylan Liberation Front (later the Rock Liberation Front) to "liberate" artists, like Bob Dylan, who they felt had turned their backs on the struggle and "sold out to the man."

Maybe, in 2011, we need a Kanye Hip Hop Liberation Front to do the same.

After all, if Jadakiss and his crew could stage a successful "Free the Lox" campaign back in the day to get released from Bad Boy , why can't we politicize it and start a "Free Kanye Campaign" to free him from Roc-a-fella.

Something has to be done to free incarcerated minds and it has to be done now.

As Bob Marley once sang "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott can be reached at (919) 451-8283