Flipping through the TV channels the other night, I saw the movie, JUICE for the 100th time. I tuned in just as Tupac’s character, “Bishop” was complaining to his boyz about the lack of respect shown to them and his feeling of powerlessness in gaining the “JUICE” (ie. money, power, respect) that other people in the neighborhood had. “You gotta get the ground beneath your feet pardna’; the wind behind you back….!!!”
In this character, Bishop, I saw the manifestation of the frustration of brotha’s and sista’s who are tired of going to meeting after meeting, lecture after lecture and discussion after discussion only to wake up the next morning to find out that nothing has changed.
Unfortunately, despite all our hip talk and politikin’ , to borrow from the Last Poets, “Nigga’s Are Still Scared of Revolution.” in 2002. This is especially evident in the world of Hip Hop, where the self proclaimed “THUG Niggas’” despite all of their screaming and shoutin’ over a hot track about how bad they are, never use that anger to fight against the oppression of Afrikan people. Even when they do address issues pertinent to the state of Black America, their rhetoric is markedly different than when they are getting’ at a brotha for dissin’ them on a CD.
While they may scream and shout at the top of their lungs about their beef with another brotha, when facing “the man” they can only whisper a prepared statement that has been proofread and approved by their record label’s public relations department.
I just can’t imagine MC “Kill for the Thrill” rollin’ up in a board meeting at a Fortune 500 company threatening to give the CEO a beat down if he doesn’t have his money right. Reason being, for every MC “Kill for the Thrill” there are a thousand others out there who could say the same raps, minus the drama. KRS once warned that rappers are in danger but in 2002 rappers are expendable. If you look at shows like Cita’s World, soon rappers will be replaced by Cyber MC’s, programmed to automatically receive 5 mics from the Source. As Don King might say “If there wasn’t a Trick Daddy, white America would have to create one.”
Although, they appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, the white power structure and the THUGS actually have a love/hate relationship and while on the surface they appear to be in opposition, they are really interdependent. The white power structure needs the THUGS to use as poster children for the justification of things like the prison industrial complex , discrimination and police brutality and the THUGS need the white power structure to supply them with the cash to get their Bentley’s detailed.
Contrary to popular belief, white America’s biggest fear is not a gangsta, but an educated Black man with his priorities in order.
I‘ve always found it odd that the same neighborhoods that Black folks are scared to drive through at 90 miles an hour in broad daylight, you can find a yuppie, white woman slow peddling her 10 speed without a care in the world. I guess it's true that despite all the wolf tickets that we sell to each other, in 2002, ain’t nobody scared of black folks accept other black folks. Even the proverbial little old white lady, who years ago would have clutched her pocket book and trembled when a brotha joined her on the elevator would, today, probably hit even toughest THUG with her purse and mug him.
The problem that we are facing today is that everyone is waiting for something . The church folks are waiting to die and go to heaven, the conscious brotha’s and sista’s are waiting on the revolution and the Hip Hop heads are waiting for the second coming of Biggie. So many of us spend our lives in a conscious coma, fully aware of what is going on but powerless to lift a finger to stop it.
Langston Hughes once talked about a dream too long deferred becoming a withered grape. We have used that grape to make Mad Dog 20/20 and have attempted to drink ourselves out of the reality of our condition.
Those of us in the Afrocentric/Conscious Community have a standard rap and no matter what gathering of “deep” people you attend, someone is going to run down how we “were the founders of civilization/built the pyramids/discovered the peanut ,etc. What makes the current condition of Hip Hop so painful is that with our glorious past, today, we are not even able to stop corporate America from filling the heads of Black children with dreams of thuggism. Nor have we come up with an alternative that can compete with the hyped up, Hip Hop stories in magazines about the joys of genocide.
Based on the challenges that Afrikan people are facing in the 21st century, we must approach the ending of anti-afrikanism as if our lives depended on it (They do) or like there is no tomorrow (for many brotha’s there isn’t) Every book on Hip Hop must have the immediate solution of our problem as its goal and not serve as a forerunner for a volume 2. Every Conscious CD must inspire our people to do something more than bob their head to the beat. If it does not it is merely a tool of the oppressor to pacify our people and becomes a classic case of “all that rappin’ but ain’t nothing’ happnin.’” The struggle must not be like a movie where you already know that the evil villain will escape because you have already seen the previews for the sequel.
As Frederick Douglas said “Power concedes nothing without demand, it never did and it never will.” At some point there has to be a grand finale. There has to be a boiling point. The universe itself dictates such. But we have to control the direction of the change. Suppose the Black community collectively declares September 13, 2002 (which happens to be the anniversary of the death of Tupac Shakur) as the end of negative Hip Hop and the rebirth of Black Consciousness? Suppose all of us who preach, write or rap about the pitiful condition of Hip Hop come up with a concentrated effort to bring about a new era, NOW! At least we would come to a conclusion that either 1) when Black folks come together we can accomplish what we will or 2) the forces that oppress us are just too powerful, our ancestors all died in vain and we need to trade in our pens, computers and microphones for Playstations and spend the rest of our lives trying to beat the high score.
Win, loose or draw, we must devote our energies to making a change. As Eldridge Cleaver once said “We will have our manhood or the earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it."