March 24: As the War Against Iraq wages on the Hip Hop Community continues to step up and speak out in a major way... First we gotta give props to Russell Simmons. He came through and set it off this past weekend on the national broadcast of our Hard Knock Radio Show.
Russell spoke emphatically about how we as a country can find all sorts of money to go to war but at the same time have no money for education and social services that are needed to support young people. He stated that he truly hopes that President George Bush lives up to his promise of liberating Iraq and that he allows them to fully utilize their resources [oil]. He noted that he does have his doubts about Bush's true intentions..
Simmons also explained his plight with MTV and other media outlets. He felt that there were too few media owners and that they had all but monopolized war coverage. He felt they weren't really doing a good job covering the war from a balanced perspective that reflected young people and people of color. He bemoaned the fact that MTV seemed to be mimicking the approach of their CBS and CNN counterparts. He accused the networks of simply cheerleading and being mouthpiece for the war mongering of the Bush administration.
Russell explained that he and Mos Def and done a number of anti-war commercials but could not air them on MTV because of their current policy. They told Russell should they allow the commercials to air, the network would be obligated to accept commercials from right wing political groups. Apparently many of them have approached MTV and BET to air anti-abortion and pro-war ads.
Russell explained that he felt MTV was being a bit hypocritical because they constantly run commercials from the Army, Navy and other military outlets. he said thee ads actually encourage young people to sign and go to war so 'they can be all that they can be'.
When asked why he himself did not purchase a radio or TV station. Simmons noted that today the current costs make it damn near impossible. At one point he was ready to purchase some radio stations but got outbid by Radio One.
Simmons harshest words were directed toward the Democrats. When asked whether or not he felt his 'friends' in the Democratic Party like Senator Hillary Clinton had stepped up to the plate to oppose the war, Russell went off...He noted that the way Clinton and others in the Democratic Party were reacting was not cool and that they were no friends of his. He clearly felt they should've been speaking out and being more forceful in pushing the issue of saying 'No to War' with Iraq.
Simmons concluded his remarks by addressing the issue of Hip Hop artist doing anti-war songs. To date there are close to 30 anti-war songs ranging from releases from Michael Franti to Chuck D to the Beastie Boys to Zach De La Roca. While Simmons was impressed with the number, he felt that some of Hip Hop's most popular stars who reach the masses daily should step up and be in the fore front as well. He noted that P-Diddy and others have been speaking out and others are currently working on material.
After Simmons bounced Big Daddy Kane and Killer Priest step into the studios to share their thoughts on the War. Both Kane and Priest had been touring and had just arrived from Portland, Oregon. Kane explained that they could not get into the night club to perform because of all the anti-war protests that had basically closed downtown Portland. He clearly understood where the protestors were coming from.
He also noted that George Bush had used gangsta-like tactics when he bypassed the UN and pushed us into war. Kane likened the United Nations to the place where the Five Mafia Families come to meet to decided how things should be done. Bush pulled a brash move like Joe Pesci did in the movie Good Fellas when he broke ranks and broke the rules.
Killer Priest also expressed his concerns against the War. He reminded listeners that there's still a war at home against poverty and other social ills and that we should not forget that.