For those who donšt know, I do a call in show on KMEL every Sunday morning called Street Knowledge. It's a show that Išve coined...'A Talk Show For The Hip Hop Generation'. Here we talk about whatever needs to be talked about except we try and approach it from a Hip Hop perspective.. We try and surround our show with dope music, compelling artist and subject matter that is of interest to the hip hop audience. Over the past year wešve had just about everyone on the show. For example a few weeks ago First Lady Hillary Clinton graced our airwaves along with MC Ren to speak about issues concerning the youth. On another show we had Sista Souljah on with Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris and SF Mayor Willie Brown to talk about leadership in the Black community...Both shows were off the hook..|
The other week the show took new heights as we addressed the issues concerning the East/West Coast controversy. Here in the Bay Area it hasn't become as big an issue as it has in LA, however, since 2Pac had appeared on our Westside Radio show the week before and put it down..there was a whole lot of talk around this topic.
For the show we reached out to as many key players as possible.. Invited were Afrika Bambaataa, WC of the Madd Circle, Sway from The Wake Up Show, Funkmaster Flex of Hot 97 in NY, Vibe senior writer Kevin Powell and Bad Boy Recordšs CEO Sean 'Puffy' Combs. Before we even got on the air almost every line in the station was lit..all sorts of people wanted to talk on this topic..Because our phone lines were so stacked we never got a chance to put Bam, Flex or WC on the air.. Nevertheless this was the show of shows..
One of our in studio guest...DJ Fear of the local group No Concept explained how a lot this controversy seemed to be a repsonse that initially stemed from djs in NY not willing to open up and play West Coast music.. He added that there had been a lot of stereotyping about artist from the West Coast..hence when many West Coast groups started to amass huge record sales, it caught a lot of folks back East by surprise. This in turn may have led to some folks on the East Coast being jealous of West Coast success...Fear also noted that this whole conflict seemed to be manufactured by irresponsible djs and folks in the media.
It was a shame that we didn't get an opportunity to hollar at Funkmaster Flex considering how often his name has popped up as main instigator of this situation. There are lots of stories floating around that point to Flex as someone who has been abusing his power on NY's Hot 97 radio to publicly dis west coast artist. There were several stories that blamed Flex as the cause of Tha Dogg Pound having their video set shot up while they were filming 'New York New York'...The word in this neck of the woods was he got on the air, gave out the address and encouraged folks crash the set and defend New York's honor. The result was Tha Dogg Pound being shot at and increased bi-coastal tensions.
Kevin Powell of Vibe Magazine came on the show and broke it down by noting that East/West Coast conflict is best understood when one takes a closer look at the dynamics governing the relationship Black folks globally. Powell pointed out that all over the world there are forces that are continually accentuating and fueling the conflicts that brothers are having with each other. It could be the Crips and Bloods in LA, The Nigerians and Jamaicans in London or The East and West Coast within Hip Hop.
Powell also pointed out that a lot of people have become involved by jumping on the band wagon once they got wind of the personal conflicts between 2Pac and Notorious BIG and West Coast based Death Row Records and East Coast based Bad Boy Records...It has become real easy for folks to become involved and not really understand why they're fighting.
Sean Puffy Combs... said he felt embarrassed that his name and his record company had been placed in a position where they are seen as main focal points to this conflict. He stated that he felt it would be best if he and Bad Boy Records try and take the 'high road' in this matter. He emphasized that as an intelligent Black man trying to make it in this business he did not want to see this conflict go on.
He said he's proud to read and hear about the accomplishments of Death Row Records and that it's pained him to see some of the negativity that people have attempted to heap on them. He also noted that while there has been a lot of pressure on his side of town to retaliate to some of the barbs tossed in his direction by Death Row, that it would only lead to folks becoming more distracted. Combs went on to respond to the allegations about him and Notorious BIG being responsible for 2Pac being shot and the real meaning behind the infamous song 'Who Shot Ya'. Combs emphatically denied having anything to do with 2Pac being shot. He added that he was surprised to hear the accusations and he had written 2Pac a letter while he was in prison explaining his understanding of the unfortunate incident.
As for the song, 'Who Shot Ya', Puffy explained that the song had nothing to do with 2Pac and in fact the song had already been done before the incident. Over and over again, Combs pointed out to our listeners to not fall into this trap of divide and conquer. He stressed the importance of remaining positive and encouraged our listeners to do the same... The response to Combs was overwhelming and favorable... Many said they were happy they had an opportunity to hear him speak and that he had helped dispel a lot of the misperceptions that people had held of him.. Undoubtly hearsay and rumors concerning this have run rampant.
The highlight of the show came when a reenactment of the speech given slave owner Willie Lynch was played. In this factual speech, the actor who played Lynch spoke on the many ways slave owners could go about keeping their slaves envious and fearful of one another. In the speech he spoke on how to divide the light and dark skin slaves, young and old and male and female. The point of how ridiculous this conflict has gotten was made after this and an updated, 1996 version of the speech aired.
Many of the points raised in the speech were confirmed when former Black Panther and community activist Walter Turner came on and explained the counter intelligience techniques that were employed by the FBI in the 60s to keep militant organizations like The Panthers and US and SNCC divided and eventually at odds with one another. This East/West Coast conflict is no different.
While the forces in Congress and other legislative bodies continue to turn back the clock, by dismantling programs like affirmative action and as they build and privitize more prisons fools are trying to represent land they don't even own... When Rodney King was beat down by LAPD they didnšt ask him what coast hešs from.. Nor did those 8 NY police officers who beat graffitti artist Michael Stewart to death several years back.
With a Presidential election coming down the pipe and all sorts of bills on the ballot that will set us back to 1812 when slave owner Willie Lynch delivered his speech on divide and conquer..my question has and will continue to be..Donšt tell me about East Coast /West Coast...Donšt tell me all this when they got jail cells for all of us who violently buy into this... Tell me excatly how we within hip hop are gonna effect the '96 elections... Like I told Puffy, I hope that Biggie's next record schools people on some of the upcoming issues we should be voting on..and I hope Ice Cube and others representinš The Westside do the same. Heck the only coast I know is The Ivory Coast where most of us came from....
.Peace Davey D