In this week's issue

*GAYS AND HIP HOP by Davey D for SJ Mercury News
*RISE UP HIP HOP NATION-WISE UP pt 2 by Kristina Wright
*RISE UP HIP HOP NATION-WISE UP pt1 by Kristina Wright

The FNV Newsletter c2002
Send comments to mrdaveyd@aol
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What up folks..

I'm just getting back from Barcelona, Spain where the World AID
conference took place.  To say the least it was overwhelming..  I got
a chance to hear everyone from Bill Clinton to Nelson Mandela and I'm
still taking it all in..  As I said in my last newsletter, what I
experienced was sobering and in the upcoming weeks I will have a
longer piece outlining what I learned...  In the meantime please check
out these two incredible essays that were written by Ms Kristine
Wright who is down in Southern Cali..  They first appeared on
Blackelectorate.com and leave us with lots to think about..  Read pt 2
first..  It'll make more sense..  Until next time enjoy

Davey D

by Davey D for SJ Mercury News

Who is the Gay Rapper?

That's a question that obsessed people after the Connecticut
publication One Nut set off a firestorm of speculation a few years ago
by publishing a series of interviews with an anonymous well-known
rapper who claimed to be gay.  Hip-hop fans and industry insiders went
on a witch hunt, analyzing lyrics and theorizing about various
artists' offstage behavior.  Stars ranging from LL Cool J to Dr.  Dre
to Jay-Z to Method Man found their sexual orientation being called
into question.

Sadly, the fascination was fueled by prevalent gay stereotypes.  Far
too many people seem to think that being gay would somehow prevent a
rapper from busting a mind-altering dance move or kicking a dope
freestyle.  But such notions are ridiculous.  After all, there are gay
policemen, accountants and doctors who are as good at their jobs or
better than their straight colleagues.  So why couldn't the Gay Rapper
be a superstar?

A listen to the tracks ``Straight Trippin' '' or ``Fam Biz Edit,'' put
out by Bay Area rappers Tim'm T West and Juba Kalamka with their crew,
D/DC (Deep Dick Collective), lays to rest any idea that gay rappers
lack the necessary skills.Over the past couple of years, D/DC has
built a strong reputation at its frequent shows for both gay and
straight crowds.  The D/DC group is best known for its innovations --
fusing spoken-word, as well as straight-up rap, with the music.  Their
current CD has a title that's hard to confuse with any other,
``Bourgiebohopostpomoafro Homo,'' and they're working on a new disc,
``The Famous Outlaw League of Proto-Negroes,'' due out in the fall on
the Sugartruck/Agitprop/Cellular label.  Check out the Web site
gayhiphop.com to sample D/DC's music.

Another Bay Area artist who is openly gay and has forged an awesome
reputation as an innovative rhymer is Hanifah Walidah.  She first hit
the scene in 1994 using the name Sha-Key, having released the
impressive album ``A Headnodda's Journey.'' Her single ``Soulsville''
was ahead of its time because it fused rap with spoken-word years
before that would become common.  Walidah is featured on the new
compilation album ``Shame the Devil'' (Freedom Fighter Records) which
deals with the prison industrial complex.  She's currently at work on
a hip-hop opera.

Hanifah and D/DC are just a few of the gay artists taking their
rightful places in the world of hip-hop, and these artists are
building upon the trailblazing spirit of earlier gay hip-hoppers.The
Bay Area owes a debt of gratitude to people such as Page Hodell, one
of the first women to do a live mix show on commercial radio, working
the turntables on KSOL in the mid-'80s.  She rivaled, and often
surpassed, her male counterparts.  Hodell also deejayed and produced
one of the country's longest-running hip-hop clubs.  The Box, as it
was called, ran for more then 10 years in San Francisco, attracted
thousands of clubgoers, mostly gay, and became a Bay Area institution.

Props are also due for Dave Moss, who was on KSOL's up-and-coming
rival station, KMEL, at the same time as Hodell.  KMEL was then known
primarily as a dance station, but on Saturday nights Moss would put
together incredible East Coast-style break beat/hip-hop mixes that are
still talked about today.

DJ Neon Leon, well-known in London and among house music fans
everywhere, started in the mid-'80s as a hip-hop DJ on KALX, the
University of California-Berkeley station.  He later earned his
stripes as a Hip Hop club DJ at the now-defunct I-Beam.

We could go on and on naming gay artists who have made an impact on
hip-hop.  Gays have always been down with hip-hop.  Many have embraced
the culture from day one....The question is: Do we accept our gay
brothers and sistas?

So who is the Gay Rapper?  He or she might be the victor of a fierce
rhyme battle or the artist whose record you dance to every time it's
played on the radio or at a club.  So what difference does it make?

written by Davey D for San Jose Mercury News..  please send emails to

by Kristine Wright

First, I'd like to big up and offer respect to all souljahs in the
struggle - the struggle for freedom, justice and equality continues
and must continue.  These souljahs fight on many fronts, from
full-time revolutionaries, to full-time parents, taking care of their
families and raising up stronger individuals for the future.  From
those doing what they should do, to those doing what they can do to
just get by, we all are in the same struggle.  We must start working a
little harder to disrupt the status quo(please see Rise Up, Part 1:
http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=617), but to do this
will take UNITY.

Hip hop once again faces a moment in its history that may prove
defining.  Over five years ago the world watched the first
implosion...East Coast vs.  West Coast rivalries leading to the
premature deaths of two hip hop truthsayers, Tupac Shakur and Biggie
Smalls.  It was a wake up call, and a lot of us woke up, at least for
a minute.  But truth be told, we still get caught up in wrong battles
fighting wrong enemies.  The latest frontiers: Mainstream vs.
Underground, or New School vs.  Old School.  Again, we've taken our
eyez off the prize.

For the past year, I've been carefully watching where hip hop was
going and if it could reach its inner potential, and as we say in hip
hop, move the crowd.  I've seen some good things happen.  Community
activism in inner cities across the country is taking on a hip hop
sensibility and offering real alternatives for youth at community
levels.  This activism has recently experienced national level
successes, particularly thanks to Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Action
Network.  It has been responsible for organizing hip hop summits
bringing artists, activists, spiritual leaders, and politicians to the
same table for change.  Most recently, the Hip Hop Action Network
joined forces with New York educators and students to protest budget
cuts in education, and due in part to these efforts, achieved
retribution.  Chuck D, KRS-1 and others have never stopped speaking
truth to power and living their activism.  Minister Farrakhan has also
reached out to the hip hop community and offered his guidance to help
us reach our revolutionary potential.  Good things are happening.

At the same time, however, I've also noticed a growing tension and
division within the community, a community so close to organizing and
reaching its powerful potential, but knocked off track time and time
again.  Is it a coincidence?  I don't think so.

The growing battles within hip hop around mainstream vs.  underground,
new school vs.  old school, or "real" hip hop vs.  commercial, are
dangerous to real progress.  A community divided is a community
conquered indeed.  Two most recent distractions center on the KRS-1
vs.  Nelly beef and Nas vs.  Hot 97.  Both need careful consideration
and real critical analyses.

On her new CD, Lauryn Hill asserts, "Fantasy is what people want, but
reality is what they need."  Well, here's the reality when it comes to
these feuds and others like it:

1.  Although battling is a pillar of hip hop culture, the KRS-1/Nelly
beef highlights a real generational divide.  New school artists are
always accused of selling out for the money, disrespecting the roots
of hip hop and its founders, and perpetuating negative, stereotypical
images in lyrics and videos.  In retaliation, new school and
mainstream artists call out old school and underground artists for
being haters, jealous and has beens, out of touch with the community.

Growing up in the KRS-1, Public Enemy era of hip hop, I owe my
understanding of the struggle to them.  My students consider me old
school, and that's fine by me.  But in this beef, I see both sides.
Yes, the new generation needs to show more respect for those that
paved the way.  But old school folks must also show respect to young
brothas and sistas still trying to maintain in the only way they know
how in this world where few opportunities exist for the have nots.  In
many ways, the majority of youth we want to represent in the struggle
relate much more to Nelly (if you live in Midwest), or Snoop (if you
live in LA), or Ludacris (if you live in the South), than they do our
more "conscious" hip hop keepers like KRS-1 or dead prez.  That's

We need to stop living in "what should be" and start dealing with
"what is".  So for KRS-1 to call for a boycott of Nelly, it solidifies
the division.  Only those that are of like mind were even listening,
inevitably preaching to the choir, never reaching the congregation;
never uniting or progressing.  And what about all our young brothas
and sistas in hoods around this country that like Nelly?  Are we
dissing them too?  We need to think more carefully about possible

2.  If us old school folks tell the truth, bling-bling in hip-hop is
hardly new.  Old school hip hop had its share of references to the
material.  Who can forget the gold rope chains?  Black folks have
always liked nice things because we've rarely had them.  This dates
back well before hip hop.  The zoot suits and fancy cars of the Harlem
Renaissance come to mind.

Mainstream "bling-bling" artists are really no different then the
countless brothas in hoods all across the country that drive nice cars
but live at home with mama.  Let's stop blaming the new generation and
mainstream artists for values we instilled long ago.  In the same way,
I remember as a high school girl singing along with my girlfriends to
our favorite rapper/pimp, Big Daddy Kane: "Anything goes when it comes
to hoes because pimpin' ain't easy".  I know better now; then I
didn't.  We have to accept people where they are and for who they are,
instead of telling them who they "should" or "should not" be.  People
do and can change, but criticism rarely motivates.  Support and
guidance may prove better motivators.

3.  Although I applaud Nas for his courage to speak truth to power and
highlight the corruption inherent in radio and corporate co-option of
the culture he loves so passionately, I'm afraid his energies are
misplaced and will not reap the results he would like.  By calling out
individuals from Flex to N.O.R.E.  to Nelly, the focus of his
warranted criticisms become personal and attention gets shifted from
where it needs to be: on the oppressive system in which they are ALL
pawns.  The result: more division, no solution.  And is Nas blameless,
or am I the only one who remembers "Oochie Wally"?  We can't be
selective when we're keepin' it real.

4.  I recently attended what I thought would be a "real" hip hop show
featuring talented and often conscious artists including Mos Def,
Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, The Roots, and Outkast.  Unfortunately I
left disappointed (and very early).  I felt like I was more at an
under-aged rave than a hip hop show that highlights "real" hip hop
culture.  I left wondering, what is so "positive" about this?
Moreover, what is so "hip hop" about this?  Because many of the
underground "diss" mainstream so tuff and claim a "moral" high ground,
it was strange to see this scene that didn't seem all that "positive"
to me, where most in its young crowd were much more interested in
getting stoned and ecstacied out than they were in the music or
message.  I think there's been more romanticism in revolution than
real dedication to it in the underground and we need to talk more on

Although I've noticed more hip hop activism, I'm fearful that the
growing division in hip hop will undermine our progress.  It's like
the activists are underground but those that need it are the
mainstream masses.  No progress can come from this equation; so
systemically, little has changed.  We are (our youth especially) still
victims of oppressive educational and judicial systems that lock us up
and out of self-determination, the only real solution.  And this
solution must come from a united people.  We are all different, coming
from different places, but hopefully we can become out of many, one
people (borrowing from the Jamaican national motto).  Without the
masses, there can be no movement (please see insightful piece by
Adamma Ince, No Masses, No Movement: Black Boomers Shout Reparations
in the Court - But Go Silent in the 'Hood',

The Civil Rights Movement had the church as its catalyst.  We have hip
hop, and hip hop media outlets (radio, BET, magazines, web sites) must
play a role in any movement to reach the masses.  Even Nas must admit
that, dissing one station while on another corporate owned radio
station.  If he didn't have access to this medium, only cats on his
block would have heard him.  Iyanla Vanzant once said, "Be against
nothing, just be clear what you are for."  If you are clear what you
stand for, you need not be anti- anything or anyone, and the power of
clarity circumvents any power gained from division.  Although I
understand that battles and beefs have been a part of hip hop culture
since its beginnings, I hope they won't become another pawn for the
oppressors' use to keep a revolutionary community and culture from
realizing its potential for a greater good.  Let's now work together
and unite for progress and become truly, out of many, ONE PEOPLE....

Unity must have to start now, because I mean how long will we have to
suffer to just learn these things...that we must be united - Bob
Marley, Chant Down Babylon

Kristine Wright teaches a course in Hip-Hop at the University of
Califorina - Irvine and can be contacted via e-mail at Wrightk@uci.edu


by Kristine Wright

We must start working a little harder to disrupt the status quo!I
teach a class that analyzes hip hop culture as a lens to view society
and social inequality.  We DECONSTRUCT the institutional structures
that keep people of color in this country (and around the world) down;
and the structures we see in society in general are magnified in the
entertainment industry.  The game is the same game it's been since the
dawn of colonialism.  Exploit people of color, their labor, and their
culture while benefiting financially and gaining more power over them.

In many ways, hip hop may try to keep it real, but that voice is often
silenced because oppressors control hip hop's IMAGE.  Those in power
get to reap the larger benefits of artists' labor, while
simultaneously controlling their image and teaching the youth values
that reinforce the same old shit.  They get to make money, villianize
the black man, and prostitute the black woman all at the same time.
For them, it's a win-win situation.  For the hip hop community, it
becomes a trap we fall into because we believe money gets us power.
Right now what money gets us is bought.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad at young brothas and sistas for
getting into the industry and making money in one of the only legal
ways they can.  The schools are definitely not offering any better
solutions, and our youth are victims of an inequitable educational
system that doesn't even teach them how to spell the word money, much
less any skills to make some.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the type of money one needs to have
real power, individually, none of us have it.  If the powers that be
wanted to end blooming rap careers tomorrow, they could because THEY
have the power to do it.  THEY control the market.  Here today, gone
tomorrow, out with the rest of the trash.  And all the platinum and
the ice in your world won't change that.

So what's the solution?  Although it is important to continue to shed
light on these issues by deconstructing the institutional power
structure that keeps us down, it is now time to move beyond
deconstructing and start building.

I've come up with a few concrete solutions that I hope will help
anyone who wants to make a difference but is not sure how:


1.  Continue to diffuse important information about positive events
and people making changes.  Continue to offer much needed public space
for people speaking truth to power that are purposely ignored by
mainstream outlets.

2.  Journalists often have social networks that extend from activists
to artists.  Bring these people together.


1.  Continue to SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER.  In your classrooms, continue to
highlight the reality of oppression around the world.  Many students
(especially those privileged enough to be in a college classroom) are
really unaware of many issues and need the knowledge and our guidance.
If we teach anything, teach students how to think critically and
question the status quo.

2.  Use university resources for youth outreach programs.
Universities have big money for outreach to underrepresented youth of
color, but we need to access it more often to build real relations
with community youth.  For example, my university sponsored a hip hop
day of performances, films, and panelists, and we sponsored field
trips for local high school students from lower income neighborhoods
to come take part in the day's events.  The high school students were
introduced to college in a way they related to - namely hip hop.


1.  Continue to rally and demonstrate on campuses.  Dissent is an
important part of balancing power, and we're not hearing enough of it.

2.  MENTOR or TUTOR a least one younger child.  If money is a problem,
universities have funding that you should be able to tap into.  Many
schools have funding for "student initiated" outreach programs.  We
should all be able to spare a couple hours a week to ensure our future


1.  Although I know many already give back to your communities in
significant ways (and I respect you for that), I think we need a more
united effort.  One suggestion: It is no secret that youth in hoods
look up to rap stars.  I think the hip hop community should reach out
to urban school districts and maybe offer free shows featuring the
kids' favorite hip hop artists for the school that has shown the most
academic improvement, or has had the best attendance, etc.  I think
that would be a great motivation for our young people that look up and
idolize you.  With some unity and organizing, I think this offers a
great opportunity for artists to mentor students while promoting
achievement at the same time.

2.  Consider carefully what you leave as your artistic legacy.
Believe me, I fully understand the politics of the industry and
consumerism, and I do not blame artists for the content of successful
entertainment.  However, when it comes down to it, you alone are
responsible for the life you live.  Live it honestly.  One day, it may
be your daughter that gets pissed on from a young cat that's heard
"Fuck a Bitch" in one too many songs.  Remember with everything, you
reap what you sow.


1.  One concern I often highlight, and one I've heard from underground
more "conscious" local artists is that the only one hearing their
music are college students.  I know you want to reach a community that
needs your music and messages more.  Keep in mind that these
communities do not have the same access to your material as college
students might, because of lack of resources to go beyond the
gatekeepers of free television and radio.  Go to local schools and
colleges and tap into the same money that academics can tap into to
sponsor after school classes or performances.  I've also heard of
local middle schools and high schools that are teaming up with local
artists to offer more performance art opportunities for local kids.
School districts have money for these type of things but it takes
resolve to deal with the politics of schools and funding.  Have
schools approach radio on your behalf for sponsorship or to broadcast
from community events.  Radio is much more willing to bow to the
political pressure of city government and community activism than they
are to underground artists requesting airtime.


1.  Continue to preserve the elements of hip hop but stop the
divisiveness over what's "real" hip hop.  We often only see
appropriation by corporate america, but I find that heads sometimes
need to check how they've appropriated hip hop.  To say that
mainstream music, especially from brothas and sistas that made their
way from no way, is not "real" hip hop is a lie and elitist, and it
misrepresents hip hop, which you often indict mainstream media outlets
for doing.  At its essence, hip hop is making a way from no way.  And
in the case of mainstream hip hop, it's been a legal hustle for many
cats from ghettos that would not have had many other opportunities.
Underground "conscious" hip hop isn't any more real if only privileged
folks hear it.  Please keep in mind that having access to underground
web sites and copping' every CD that drops implies some level of
middle class.  If you're on a college campus, you're already better
off than 90% of the world's population.  It's time to stop sitting in
judgement and recognize that consciousness is often a luxury everyone
can't afford, especially poor people with few options.  Let's stop
romanticizing revolution and start "keepin' it real".  Revolutions may
start in lyrics but they must end in action, and if the only action
you are taking is to hate mainstream music, or to think only about
"skillz" and preserving elements, then you are not a part of any real
solution.  And that   s not hip hop.  Don't forget: It's bigger than
hip hop, and it should be.


We all need to respect life and live that respect.  EACH ONE must
TEACH ONE: Live the example you want to teach and understand the power
of example.  I do believe that as a community we must look for
solutions on personal and community levels instead of holding on to
the idea that the powerful will one day wake up and realize the evil
of their ways.  While the system hurts the disadvantaged, the segment
that gains advantage from it is not likely to sacrifice all the
benefits that come with the status quo without a fight.  For this
reason, I believe real progress must come through SELF-DETERMINATION.
It's time to start taking care of our own and taking ownership of our
lives.  The revolution can never be televised, until WE own the
channel.  ONE LOVE.

Kristine Wright teaches a course in Hip-Hop at the University of
Califorina - Irvine and can be contacted via e-mail at Wrightk@uci.edu


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