On Line With Boots From The Coup

Political Activism Within Hip Hop

DAVEY D: Activism within hip hop is at an all-time low...That's why I invited Boots the lead rapper from the Coup do join us to night He has been one of those high profile artists who has long practiced what he preaches....He was an activist before he was a rapper..Boots says hello to everyone in the room....He actually rode a bike to my house :)

BOOTS: Hey what's up?

DAVEY D: But anyway.. Boots why do you feel rap artist have not been as politically active as they were in the past?

Boots: I think its a part of a whole American culture..that art is for arts sake as opposed to being utilitarian and so that political rappers are doing for the art and not really for the purposes of building a movement....The way that would work in hip hop would be for rap artist to also do grassroots work..like being a part of a larger political movement...Many 'political' rappers have not done that...

LuisPNN: Are there any parties that hip hop artist could support?

Boots:...any party that epitomizes what they believe in... There is no one party that they should support..but they should be active in something that challenges the institutions of exploitation and oppression...For instance I am part of the Young Comrades...who are putting on an event called Fuck The Police Day here in Oakland's Lake Merrit..They are reaching out to Bay Area rappers to come out and support this day which is designed to combat Police Harassment That will be this June 23rd

LuisPNN: Great is it a free event or are they trying to raise some funds for a good cause?

Boots: It's totally free and we'll be providing free barbecue chicken.... It should be fun....We will be addressing the issues surrounding the no cruising ordinances. We'll be addressing the issue of police harassment and other things that they seem to target youth for...

LuisPNN Yeah those are big issues over on the east bay area...Do you have any politicians that are willing to be there?

Boots: No politicians have been invited yet...If politicians are invited they'll be on the level of the city council... I don't think the Mayor will be attending....The Chief Of Police may attend...But more as an active participant if you know what I mean?

Davey D: Boots... why do you think people within hip hop are no longer checking for 'political' rap groups like Public Enemy and KRS-One?

Boots: Political Raps aren't popular today because rap groups have a short life span..Rappers have to be in touch with their communities no matter what type of raps you do otherwise people won't relate...Political Rap groups.....offered solutions only through listening....They weren't part of a movement... So they died out when people saw that their life's were not changing...
On the other hand, Gangsta groups and rappers who talk about selling drugs are a part of a movement. The drug game has been around for years and has directly impacted lives and for some many its been positive in the sense that it earned people some money. Hence gangsta rap has a home...
In order for political rap to be around... There has to be a movement that will be around that will make people's lives better in a material sense That's what any movement is about.... making people's lives better That's what gangster rap is about and that's what political rap is about....the question is..who has right answer...

LuisPNN Do you think that hip hoppers can be successful in creating a nationwide grassroots movement?

Boots: Yes I do..But I really do think...that movement will come from potential hip hoppers as opposed to the one's who are already on the scene because people who are into hip hop are there because they wanna make their lives better...These new comers have got to be shown that their is a better way to live then just getting a record deal... They've got to be shown that there are other ways for their lives to improve.
Hence unless political rap offers material change.. it ain't gonna fly for a lot of people..Amiri Baraka said that Blues music even had a movement surrounding Blues started when slaves figured out they weren't going back home to Africa...

LuisPNN: Who is going to educate the new artists?

Boots: We [Boots and the Young Comrades] have started to do that with our organization...Every kid out on the street has a rap...about 70% of the kids I meet have aspirations to rap and that's fine..but right now..rap is a way to escape...as opposed to being griots..Rappers are busy creating their own worlds... There's nuthing wrong with that in itself..but that is simply doing art for art sake.. Rappers are busy creating their own worlds...
What I mean by creating..is making them up from pieces of movies and other raps they've heard instead of art for the people which we need much more of...In order to do that we have to be involved with the world a whole lot more...Rappers eventually create their own world much the same way the habitual liar does...not many people represent what their life is about.....some of that comes fromthem not really knowing the facts behind what their life is about....

Davey D: So explain the demise of PE and KRS One.. are they being true about where they come from and what they know?

Boots: PE was very much true to what they talked about...they never talked about revolution...and Chuck will tell you that's not what he's about...He's about raising consciousness and trying to have a better life within this system....KRS-One.. is a whole other story.. we could have a whole hour long discussion about him...I'm not afraid to say this but I think he sold out with the Nike commercial..but that doesn't explain his lost his popularity ....He may have actually gained popularity.

Davey D: W Do you think someone like a KRS-One or Chuck D or even yourself Boots.. will you run for office?

Boots: That would be predicting the future...but anything is possible...Heck you even have police men rapping...For KRS-One and Chuck D, to me it seems its within their political ideology...to agree with running whether they would do that or not is a whole other question..... As for me..Boots.. the answer is no...I would not run for political office.

LuisPNN: So you see as change having to come from outside?

Boots: I think that Capitalism being a system that is defined as one group of people exploiting another group so therefore within that system.. things will not change..We see that the ruling class of people 'slaughter' thousands of people for profits to be run smoothly..to show that change can come from the masses as opposed to individuals within the system....

Davey D: Boots how can we get rap artists to inspire others to vote in the upcoming elections?

Boots: If rappers are going to get folks to vote...They would have to hold concerts where the admission price is a voter registration card...If people are interested in my organization the Young Comrades people can call 510-310-6780 or write to Young Comrades at PO Bx 16187 Oakland Ca 94610.

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