Endorse For Oakland's Next Mayor
Currently there are 13 people trying to win the seat for Mayor in what is shaping up to be Oakland, California's most controversial and volatile election in more then a decade..What makes this race interesting is that Oakland which has a majority African American population and has had a African American Mayor for the past 12-14 years may find itself electing a white Mayor due to the fact that 10 African American candidates will be splitting their votes..Former California Governor Jerry Brown has tossed his hat into the ring.. and has thus far garnered 43% of the polled votes...All sorts of African American leaders are running around asking how can a city which gave birth to the Black Panther Party and fought vigorously to elect it's first Black Mayor in a city that was notorious for it's racism, miss the boat on this Mayoral election..
I'm looking at this election and I'm seeing a huge void to be filled.. I'm seeing a city that had less than 30% of it's population voting during the last election.. I'm seeing the overwhelming majority of these non-voters living in the Oakland flatlands..[commonly referred to as the hood].. And I see hardly anyone aggressively courting that potential vote..
I see all these candidates running around talking about how they got endorsed by this prestigious organization or that prestigious newspaper.. And I'm asking myself which one of these candidates is gonna be smart enough and bold enough to go out and seek the endorsement of Hip Hop's biggest icons? Which Mayoral candidate will be savvy enough to go out and get a huge poster of E-40, Too Short or Ice Cube and place it alongside all those billboards along East 14th that are begging us to buy St Ides Malt liquor..and have this billboard sport a huge caption that reads.. 'Yo Oakland, this is Too Short reminding you don't forget to pull the lever for candidate so-so during the next election.. He's down with us'....
This strategy doesn't have to be limited to Oakland or Bay Area rappers.. If I was running for Mayor.. I would definitely be seeking out an endorsement from a man like Ice Cube..Far fetched you say? I think not...The other week when he came to town he brought out thousands of people who waited for hours just to get an autograph.. Not all these folks were kids.. Most were grown adults who are able to vote.. If some one like Ice Cube can influence folks to go out and buy a million or two albums, check out his new movie, throw up the 'W' and yell 'Westside' or go out and down a couple of 40 ounces of malt liquor.. He certainly can go out an influence folks to vote for Oakland's next Mayor.. I'm thinking Cube could go out and change the words to his song 'We Be Clubbing' and rewrite as 'We Be Voting' and do a short little rap about one of Oakland's 13 Mayoral candidates...There's no doubt that kid got influence. I saw him the other nite on Bill Maher's show 'Politically Incorrect'..Maybe he's starting to realize that and move in that direction..
Once upon a time I would've said this suggestion was off track, because Cube back in days was only 18 or 19.. He still had a lot to learn.. Now he's a married man with kids who is almost 30... Like it or not he's a major icon in the community. I wanna know who he would he endorse for Mayor and why.. or for that matter Governor?. For those who don't know Cali elects a new Governor this year..If Cube shares similar views with me, I certainly would want him to go out and represent.. There's a lot at stake here.. Here in Cali there are all sorts of crazy bills being passed.. Many of them have and will continue to have an adverse effect on our community..It sure would've been nice to have had an Cube campaigning against Prop 209 which ended affirmative action or the Three Strikes Law.. or anti-immigration bill Prop 187..Maybe his endorsement would've flipped the script and help defeat those oppressive measures..
Nowadays Cali has more oppressive bills for us to vote on..There's the Unz bill calling for English only..There's another bill that would deny you citizenship even you were born here.. We have a bunch of clowns running for Governor.. We have another bill designed to overturn Prop 209.. There's a lot at stake.. I see politicians seeking endorsements from pop icons like Arnold Schwartznegger, Jay Leno and Ed Asner.. why not Ice Cube?
If you look at it carefully a guy like Ice Cube also has a lot at stake in these political races. Cube and other artist at the very least have business interest to protect..There are insurance companies that are 'redlining' his profession by charging 3-4 times the going rate for a rap concert..Political influence can stop that practice.. There are public venues throughout Cali that won't allow him and other rap artists to perform..i.e. The Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountainview, The Concord Pavilion in Concord etc.. Heck when he came to Oakland, the city subsidized Eastmont Mall in Oakland wouldn't let him sign autographs inside.. He had to do it outside across the street from the Mall.. They cited insurance and liability problems.. In addition they wouldn't let him use his Nation Of Islam security.. Now if Ice Cube had some juice at city hall.. all that would've changed.. He could've gotten on the phone and spoke directly to the folks in charge and had everything done proper.. Such favors are often granted for others celebrities.. Do you think they would've told Denzel Washington or Wesly Snipes or Arnold Schwartznegger they weren't allowed in a mall? At this point in time Cube and other rap artist are forced to deal with people who are hostile to their profession. There are people who are aggressively lobbying elected officials to come up with ways to limit the avenues of exposure for rap artist. You have one guy truing to get certain albums banned in record stores, You have another person trying limit what you can and can't say on a record. You have a parole board who sent a guy to jail [C-Bo] based upon lyrics used in an album.. There are all types of folks trying to shut hip hop down every step of the way..Most of us just sit back and do nothing..It's not just hip hop that's being attacked.. but also the very communities that a lot of us come from..The Black and Brown communities are under major attacks.. Youth culture is under attack.. The inner City is under attack.. Unfortunately, far too many of us are willing to vehemently debate who's true hip hop and who isn't.. Far too many of us are willing to yell Eastside or Westside.. and far too many of us are ready to retreat to the hip hop 'underground' where we can 'keep it real'. Meantime attacks continue to increase..
It was political influence that made graffiti writing a felony in some places.. It was political influence that banned break dancing on city streets in a lot of communities.. It was political influence that banned rap concerts at all sorts of venues around the country..It's political influence that keeps the average rap artist making 10 cent for every dollar the record company makes..It's political influence that keeps a curriculum designed to teach you how to make it in the music business from being taught in your public schools..
It was political influence that kept a rap oriented curriculum from being utilized in the Oakland public schools.. It's political influence that are inprisoning record numbers of Black and Brown folks. It's political influence that are now taking The RICO [Racketeering Laws] designed to stop the mafia and other organized crime families..and using them to try and shut down independent rap labels who's people may have had a street oriented past. It's political influence that allow major record companies to put the economic squeeze on large record stores and make it difficult to get your 'underground' product sold.. Right here in Cali in the neighboring city of Stockton..Local artists are not able to sell their tapes on consignment..due to a supposed growing concern about gang violence..It's political influence that allows a police department to go out and put a bad word out about certain rap artist thus effecting their business.. I bet a lot y'all don't know that the PDs all around the country exchange notes with each other about the type of crowds and mayhem associated with certain rap artists. It's political influence that allows artist signed to a big label to get radio airplay day in and day out..while your local independendent artist can't get any love even though it's his community that listens to the radio station in overwhelming numbers ... It's all political..
And where are the shot callers and big ballers to fight those battles ? Where are all the keep it real brothas to flip the script on all this madness? They're either out drinking 'crystal' and moet, rocking the latest Armani and Varsace gear while sporting Italian and Columbian nick names.. or they're hanging out in some underground cavern blaming Puffy and Timbaland for ruining hip hop.. All the while they've done nothing to help fight some very oppressive conditions that effect them and their ability to be seen and heard.. Very few of us are out there demanding some sort of accountability.. Very few us are out there checking the folks who are checking us.. Artsist like Ice Cube would want to have some political juice at this stage in their lives. It's high time that all these 'pimp, playa', hustla ,big ballin' shot callin' hip hop keep it real types follow the advice of the Whoridas and move up to the next level in the game..'
Back to the Oakland Mayoral race..For those who don't know here's a little background about Oakland.. It is perhaps the third largest hip hop market in the country in terms of record sales and recorded rap acts.. It is home to more then 150 recorded rap groups..with more then 100 independent record labels.. Some of hip hop's biggest selling and most influential rap acts are from Oakland.. MC Hammer sold 14 million albums one year..setting a record.. Too Short with ten lps and on the verge of releasing his 11th has released more albums then any other rap artist in history.. Almost all his works have gone platinum [1 million sales or at least gold [500 thousand]... Digital Underground set a record when Humpty Dance sold 2 1/2 million copies...Oakland is home to one half of the duo that host the most listened too hip hop radio show in the world.. The Sway & King Tech Wake Up Show which is internationally syndicated with more then 16 million listeners..Sway lives was born and raised and lives in Oakland... Oakland is home to the country's largest 'hip hop union for djs.. The Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition...It's also home to the country's only 100% African American owned tv network.. Soul Beat Television.. Oakland was the site where a historic panel that took place at the Gavin Convention occurred.. Two years ago.. Reverend Jesse Jackson, Chuck D, SF Mayor Willie Brown, writer Adissa The Bishop of Hip Hop and Andrea Fogety of Rock the Vote sat on a panel to talk about the role hip hop should play in politics.. The following day a follow up panel took place on the radio which included..Activist Dick Gregory, Chuck D, Michael Franti of Spearhead, Jesse Jackson and Boots of The Coup..Some powerful information was passed along.. Oakland is home to Saafir,The Whoridas, B.L.A.C.K., Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Souls Of Mischief, Ea-Ski, The Coup, Dru Down, The Luniz, Richie Rich and far too many groups then I could ever name..It's major stomping ground...Many of these hip hop artist are no longer kids but grown men who have made their mark in a profession that exerts a lot of influence on the community.. Yet their influence has not been felt in the political arena...Why?
Let's just say for arguments sake that none hip hop artists are just entertainers and we should leave the politics to someone else.. Right here in the Bay Area you have all sorts of writers, djs and just plain ole activist and business men who have yet to be sought out by these politicians.. For example, Mayor Willie Brown's son Michael Brown is as savvy as they come.. He's well known throughout the Bay Area for promoting hip hop parties...He was visible during his famous father's Mayoral campaign in SF.. Why hasn't he been asked to endorse someone?.. Why haven't writers like Billy Jam, DJ Beni B of The Bay Area Hip Hop Coalition, KK Baby of KPOO radio..Rafique Bilal of the Nu Upper Room, Jessica Holter of The Punany Poets and Hip Hop Psalms. been tapped and asked to endorse one of the candidates... To date the only person I know who was approached was Sway of the Wake Up Show.. Mayoral candidate Shannon Reeves of the NAACP asked him about an endorsement..
I bring up this whole issue of hip hop community and politics realizing that there are two sides to the coin..Any of these good folks who are a part of the hip hop nation can go out and hold a press conference and publicly make known who they like and don't like...My whole point here is that the hip hop community is a sleeping giant with so much political potential... It would be any politician to go out and get a Chuck D, a KRS-One, Ice T and numerous others to help get the word out about critical issues... Hip Hop artists are able to reach a segment of the population that far too many people write off.. I'm just sitting here envisioning some political commercials... ie
This is Master P..'Let me hear you say 'uuugh' when you go to the polls and repeal the ban on Affirmative Action'...Vote No on Prop 209..and make the Republicans say 'uuugn'
Or how about a spot from E-40; 'Hey Yo' this is that smooth talking, playa partner, trash talking tycoon E-40 betta known as 40 Water.. If ya wanna be a real factor in the game.. be sure to vote Governor Pete Wilson outta office..that fool is 'PHing' on us hustlas and he's effecting our dividends..'' Be sure to vote for my man...'Willie Brown'.. He's a true playa who got all of our backs'..
or perhaps Mack 10 could school voters like this;
Yo! This is Mack 10 representin' the Westside'.. Right now the Westside is getting screwed when it comes to education.. Killa Cali is ranked 49th out of the 50 states when it comes to reading and math.. That's cause they got some mark ass tricks on the school board..From what I understand they're priorities ain't straight.. We need to fix that up.. If y'all wanna really get your bang on.. vote them fools outta office and put my man Al Sharpton in there.. He'll take care of things...He'll make the Westside worth something when it comes to education..'
I think you get my point...Hip Hop is damn near 30 years old.. It demands that we exude a certain amount of responsibility and maturity that is on par with it's age..Let me know what you think about this... And the next time you see a politician running for office.. Ask them what rap artists are endorsing them.. Their knowledge or lack of knowledge will be an indication of how in touch they are with youth culture.. as well as a pretty sizeable segment of the population in general.. Next time you see your favorite rap artist.. Ask them who they're voting for and why.. When you see a kid like Puffy..ask him as a self professed true baller shot caller can he call the Mayor of New York directly and be taken seriously...Next time you see a kid like Mack 10 ask him if he's able to call the Mayor of Inglewood and get the city to funnel some funds for a community recenter.. When you see an artist like Common...ask him what sort of 'Common Sense' is he able to impart on city officials in Chicago..
I'm not trying to pick on anyone I only named off those aforementioned artists to make this final point..At this stage in our lives we should be able to exert that type of influence and we should be able to garner that type of respect from elected officials.. If ya wanna get your bang on '98.. If ya wanna really 'keep it real'.. If ya wanna really represent and be a true pimp daddy playa hustla or a true righteous god or earth... See if you can make them political folks to bow down in your direction.. Get your vote on '98...Let me know what you think..? email me at email@example.com
If anyone knows of any political activities being undertaken by hip hop artist in your area let me know...Let me know if any artist is being sought out for political endorsements.. I wanna acknowledge them in the next newsletter.. Right now I wanna give props to Spice 1 and his crew 187 Fac... Today they are out holding a voter registration rally in Oakland at Geoffrey's Inner Circle.. Also take a copy of this article and give it to every politician that comes to your town... The year 2000 is almost upon us.. Let's make folks accountable..
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