Nation Of Islam
Hip Hop Peace Summit pg 2

April 11 1997

Writers especially those who are close to the African-American and Latino communities will be faced with a challenge of trying to figure out what impact their writings will have on a community and where do they draw the line.. between good, honest journalism and writings that are deliberately aimed at inciting emotions or causing controversy.. Artists of course will be faced with the challenge of understanding their value and power.. Perhaps its time for artist to extract some sort of punishment from hip hop media outlets that are continuously trying to incite a feud by planting unnecessary seeds of dissension. In other words maybe it's time for artist to stop granting interviews and lending their support behind irresponsible mediums.. Perhaps they should be flippin' the script and bringing attention to those video shows and publications that are acting in the best interest of the not only the hip hop community but for the communities [African-American and Latino] where many of these artists come from...

Record companies will also need to be stepped to by those who have a vested interest in preserving piece and eliminating drama in their community. The incident surrounding Michael Jackson and his use of the word 'kike' [an offensive term to Jewish people] was cited as an example. Sure, an artist like Michael can say whatever it is he wants.. But as a community that felt offended, Jewish organizations were determined to issue a consequence for his ill fated actions.. The result of them checking the record company and Michael was his having to re-release his album at a tremendous cost with that word removed. The same thing happened with Ice T... when he released Cop Killer.. The police community felt his song would some how have a harmful effect on their officers.. Folks step to the plate and checked the label until it was removed.. In the African American community, record companies continuously release material that as we can now see is extremely divisive.. Publications too often deliberately fan the flames around a controversy and folks are never held accountable. That needs to change.. It starts with the hip hop community raising its standards.. It starts with artists committing themselves to solve their personal issues behind close doors.. It should not be played out in the pages of these magazines... As Guru of Gang Starr once said in his song 'Watch What You Say'... People are listening and moving in the direction you advocate...

Is all this censorship? For some it may be.. But really it isn't. No one is trying to pass laws limiting what you can and can't say... It's all about making folks accountable.. and artist realizing that when they endorse certain outlets they bring a fan base with them to these outlets.. The name of the game is do not let some media middle men distort what you as an artist or hip hop community is all about... For example, if West Coast artists felt like magazines like the Source were biased in their coverage, they needed to stop dealing with them on all levels.. They needed to start directing attention to some other outlet that was more 'fair'.. If artists felt like radio stations or video outlets were being to one sided, they needed to encourage their fan base to tune in else where... and they should do so un-apologetically.. Don't let a media outlet profit off your dirty laundry and personal problems that should be resolved behind close doors.. Artist have to remember they are the ones creating this art form not the journalist who write and report it.. and certainly not the record executives who release the product...

During the meeting folks pointed out over and over again how 'outside forces' who are removed from the day to day lives of the communities in which they extract talent from do not act with a vested interest in that community. In other words they are often quick to highlight various controversies within hip hop because they don't have to directly deal with the aftermath.. Going back to the Willie Lynch letter, it was pointed out how historically within certain communities divisive elements were always thrown in the mix to keep people from progressing..

Kwame Toure, spoke and talked about the counter intelligence programs of the 1960s in which then FBI director J Edgar Hoover, went out of his way to diffuse civil rights organizations.. Toure who was then a member of both SNCC [Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee] and The Black Panthers told how the FBI would highlight differences and play one organization off the other.. He pointed out how they would place agent provocateurs within these groups to purposely start stirring up things... He pointed out how in the 60s, the leaders of those organizations were young, in fact around the same age of many of the rap artists... Toure maintained that it was no accident that the powerful political messages that came from the mouths of artists in the late 80s and early 90s were all but silenced.. It wasn't that 'gangsta rap' was more real and was simply more popular there were and continue to be outside forces at work helping bring that about.. Toure felt it was no accident that the whole East West Coast thing took on the type of visibility that it did... It was pointed out that these counter intelligent programs worked in such a way that many people inevertily played into them without realizing they were being manipulated.. Like Willie Lynch noted in his letter, plant a seed and watch Black folks carry these destructive behavior patterns out for years to come..

Is this all a big conspiracy? Are folks like Kwame Toure paranoid? Perhaps for some who find it hard to believe that the US government would some how see the hip hop community so powerful that it needs to be neutralized.. It was pointed out how the US for years would enter into foreign countries and destabalize governments and cripple organizations that weren't acting in the best interest of the US. This was especially true during the cold war... Now that the cold war is over, where do you think all those agents disappeared to... Perhaps within the African American and Latino communities.. Perhaps the game plan is to destabalize the gangs by destroying the truces the gangs had forged, or to keep things stirred up and attack a major artery that had been responsible for helping keep a direct line of communication going.. Hip Hop.

It is no accident that hip hop is undergoing all this stress.. It's no accident that huge stadium concerts are a thing of the past..because of violence. Is it outlandish to think that there are folks who have been paid off to come to venues and set things off? It happened in the 60s and 70s under the counter intelligent programs? Why not now? The result would be a severe crippling of artists on an economic front.. Under the counter intelligent programs, disruptions took place either through agent provocateurs or through incarcerated individuals who 'owed' the police or FBI favors.. A typical set up would be to find someone with a criminal past who was facing a long jail sentence... He could get off and not face jail time if he carried out a favor for these government agencies.. Back then he might've been asked to go rob a store while wearing a Black Panther uniform. This would lead to the Panthers being discredited. He might've been asked to pick a fight with a rival organization and keep folks from coming together where they could rally behind a common goal. Don't think this has not been happening with the gangs in LA after truces were formed during the Rodney King verdicts. Don't think this has been happening within the hip hop community.

I mention the gangs because present at these meetings were representatives from the gangs. Hip hop has long been something born out of street culture... In it's infancy, it was former gang members throughout New York who were the first hip hoppers. If you don't believe it, talk to Bambaataa or Kool Herc. Heck the original Zulus were really former members of the notorious Black Spades. The folks that used to run around with Grand Master Flash were members of the notorious Casanova Crew. Old Schoolers from NY know what I'm speaking of... Hip Hop culture was something that was instrumental in redirecting many of the frivolous activities gang members engaged in towards something more constructive.. Gangs became known as crews and hip hop was set off because of their involvement..

The gang connection to hip hop was even more prevalent out west.. Oftentimes the path between the gangs and the artists are more direct. Much of the west coast hip hop styles from dress to dance originated with the west coast gangs. In many instances artists found their independent releases being financed by gangs.. Folks out west who are deep in the scene know exactly what time it is and has been.. {yes I am not naming names.. if you're involved in any way shape or form on the west coast rap scene, you know who's affiliated with what gangs and who isn't} Hip Hop has been a way for folks to finally leave that sorted lifestyle and 'legitimize' themselves. Let's not kid ourselves into thinking that folks within Uncle Sam's workforce have not been aware of this and has not tried to disrupt the progressive movement the west coast hip hop scene had afforded folks.. If anything the stakes out west were higher, because folks out here knew how to flip the script by taking their street hustle in making money and apply it to selling tapes and records... Hip Hop out west allowed more then a few 'crews' to make legal cash flow and become true 'playas' in the game..

This sort of progress has been frightening in the eyes of many for several reasons. First young brothers off the street were becoming financially independent without having to break anyone off some ends [money] for any outsiders. Secondly, major record companies were finding that far too many kids were taking their last five bucks and purchasing material released from some of these west coast independent artists and not from the heavily invested artist being pushed by the major labels. If you run a check of record sales in certain neighborhoods you'll find that small time artists from around the way were outselling everyone from Whitney Houston to Boys II Men to whatever East Coast artist who was signed to that major label. None of these big record companies were getting a piece of the action.. What do you think the reaction was and has been to this? Either to make sure you get a cut of the action or try to destroy the scene.

It has been no accident that all around the country bootleg tapes of hip hop artists have popped up, resulting in the economic crippling of many artist.. It's no accident that 'bitch and ho' type of raps have become so popular to the point that folks don't even respect a Public Enemy or a KRS-One.. Here you have guys who are spitting some serious game about how you can 'fight the power' and now they have been all but buried.. Just look at the historical pattern of the 60s and 70s and compare things today.. You can't help but wonder... In the 60s young influential leaders were assassinated. In the 80s and 90s leaders within hip hop had their characters assassinated or discredited.

Let's not underestimate the power and influence hip hop artists have had on pop culture.. As KRS-One said in one of his recent songs.. It's reached a point where you have white kids walking around callin' themselves 'nigga'.. The point being this hip hop thing which was born out of inner city street culture has been adopted by a whole lot of suburban white kids who replaced their Elvis and Beattle posters with Ice Cube and Geto Boy posters.. As Ice T pointed out it was really scary when those same suburban kids had Chuck D and KRS-One posters on the wall... Let's not think part of the scheme has been to keep all of us.. Blacks , whites, Latinos and Asians apart.. This has been done subtly by folks within the industry who have been marginalizing and redefining hip hop music.

For example, there's a huge Latino rap scene here out west.. But you have certain writers and djs who insist upon calling it Latino Rap and saying that it's not even Hip Hop.. You have folks that won't play the music or even acknowledge it... So groups like Lighter Shade of Brown, Proper Dos, Atzlan Nation, Brown Skin Artists, ATL and even Kid Frost at this point in time... are unheard of and their visibility is relegated to car shows and Latin based festivals.. Heck there was for a while one of hip hop's most prominent Latin based groups Cypress Hill was being marginalized not only among main stream hip hop fans but also within their own community. Talk to B-Real about it.. and he'll tell you how all of a sudden their group was being accused of selling out to white folks.. Their music was always the same... so I can't really see what they did different on that end.. Were they sell outs because a lot of white kids brought their music and attended their shows? Were they sellouts because they had hooked up with House Of Pain who had a huge white/Irish following and you had both Latinos and whites gigging under one roof? Was all this stigma attached to Cypress Hill manufactured or legitimate criticism from their community.. Why aren't these Latino Hip Hop side by side with the other hip hop crews.. Is it because it has a potential of bringing Latinos and African Americans together in an even bigger way ? Think about it.. With all that is happening, I'm glad that Ice Cube and Cypress Hill have made peace with one another and ended their feud. You see the potential it had for dividing folks..

FYI...Here in Northern Cali folks have been aware of this and behind the scenes folks have been working to forge alliances.. JT The Bigga Figga who is a member of the Nation Of Islam has been working with some Latino artists. They are getting ready to release a song entitled Black and Brown.. The main thrust is to start building bridges and let folks know we got a lot in common. Other artists like Original Aztec and the folks behind the On Point [Latino Based] compilation lp have been meeting and talking with a lot of underground Black hip hop djs to make sure the support needed for the product is in place.

We won't even discuss the situation surrounding Asian Hip Hoppers.. It's a story that's been all but hidden. The huge Filipino DJ scene with the Invisible Scratch Pickles, KMEL mixers Glen Aure, Franzen and Rick Lee... Artists like The Mountain Brothers, Raw Soul, Key Kool, Boo Yaa Trybe etc are all but invisible.. All theses folks have large followings but they too aren't seen alongside their fellow hip hop brethren.. Why is that? Have they too been deliberately marginalized? Don't kid ourselves and say that their music ain't happening or they're new on the scene... As was mentioned many of these Asian and Latin artist have huge fan bases. They pack houses in their respective communities, and they've all been on the scene for a long time... So what's really going on? Hip Hop is way to powerful so attempts to keep things downplayed will continue.. We all just have to be aware of this...

Here's an interesting observation.. After the Nation Of Islam Peace Summit there was a huge press conference that was held.. Snoop Dogg, Dougie Fresh, Celo of The Goodie Mobb, Willie D of the Geto Boys and Bizzie Bone all spoke.. Snoop made some very profound remarks that spoke to his commitment to try and do more positive music and to turn things around and be more political.. Those remarks weren't covered in a lot of outlets.. In fact the next day in the Chicago Sun Times... There was a picture of Snoop addressing the audience, The caption read that rappers come together to try and end tall their violence.. There was no accompanying story or anything.. Just that picture and a short caption.. Right next to Snoop's picture was an article complete with blaring headline talking about a shooting that had taken place in a housing project and the killers hadn't been found. The message was very clear the manipulation was quite evident.. The Press conference lasted for a good 30 minutes. The artist were available for interviews afterwards.. They spoke about their plans to do a East/ West coast Unity Tour this summer.. They spoke about the plans to do an album with Def Jam CEO over seeing the project.. In fact Russell Simmons addressed the media.. This too was not covered... To my knowledge very few if any radio station ran excerpts from any of the speeches.. I know we at KMEL played both Willie D's and Snoop's speeches. Snoop's remarks especially could've been played. They ran less then a minute.

Interestingly enough the most telling remarks came from Willie D who pointed out how the media has gone out its way to attack rap and malign it.. He told how in the new version of Websters dictionary the word 'gangsta' now appears and it refers to rap. Willie spoke on how he's is continuously labeled a gangsta rapper while Marlon Brand is not considered a gangsta actor.. He spoke on how the press continuously tries to present a certain image that downplays the positive things that artists are doing and highlights the negative by calling them gangstas... Willie challenged the press to do a little bit investigation in their stories.. He asked for them not to just write a headline and call it a day.. He asked the press to provide some details.. and let the public know the things that are being done... After seeing the Chicago Sun Times story the following day.. it was quite apparent that Willie D's request fell on def ears...

So where does all this leave us... The unseen hand or outside forces.. How are they impacting hip hop? It's something we all need to be aware of.. It's something we all need to constantly talk about and be on the look out for.. It's something we need to constantly ask ourselves about.. How are we helping or hurting the hip hop nation? Are we trying to divide it or are we trying to unify it? Are we concerned or aware of the drama that takes place in certain neighborhoods when we decide to play these divisive games... Let me leave you this...

One prominent case in point took place several years ago. Dee Barnes of the rap group Body & Soul was hosting a video show entitled 'Pump It Up'. During one particular episode she interviewed the members of NWA who had some disparaging remarks to say about Ice Cube who had just left the group. The producers of the show had on another occasion interviewed Ice Cube who had some unsavory remarks to say about NWA. Dee knowing how volatile the situation was.. expressed her concern to her producers and let it be known that in the interest of preserving peace it would be best to downplay some of the negative aspects of the NWA interview and to definitely not run the Ice Cube segment. She explained it would lead to a lot of drama. The higher ups of the show 'Pump It' dismissed Dee Barne's concerns and in fact told her they would not only run the two interviews side by side.. but if she had a problem she could quit or be fired.. The interviews ran.. and unfortunately for Dee she had not gotten the opportunity to contact all those involve to let them know how things were being fram