Hip Hop Commentary

Silence Is Golden:
Hip Hop Watch Your Back
by Davey D

Lots of things have transpired over the past week or so in the land of Hip Hop. First a quick update... Last week we told you about the serious problem facing Boots Riley and dead prez in the city of San Francisco. The pair along with local rapper Askari X were having trouble getting a sound permit to do a 'Peace Concert' at historic Delores Park. This locale has long been the site for numerous protests and has concerts there almost every weekend. A press conference was held in front of SF Police Headquarters earlier this week along with concert sponsors The Uhuru Movement. Folks were urged to call and jam up city officials about this and ask them why are people being censored?

Right now, it appears if you have an opinion different from the majority you are somehow an irresponsible rabble rouser that needs to be silenced. The situation involving this weekends Peace Concert seemed to bear this out especially when you consider Boots and The Coup have performed at Delores Park on several occasions without any sort of problem. So why now?

Yesterday afternoon, just moments before people were going to be alerted via KPFA's Hard Knock Radio Show, a sound permit was granted and the Hip Hop Concert for Peace will go on as scheduled this Saturday afternoon [Oct 26 ] starting at 11am in Delores Park. For those who don't know Boots and dead prez have a slamming song on the Coup's new album called 'Get Up'.

One other point to keep in mind is while The Coup is gearing up for their concert, Boots is getting ready to sue the hell out of a newspaper in England and get paid. Apparently they had noted that Boots had close ties to Islamic Fundamentalist and had put Boots life and career in jeopardy. The remarks have scared off a number of people who would like to use the Coup for gigs and other events... However, during this time of war the false remarks have casted The Coup in a bad light. In a recent interview with journalist Lee Hubbard here's what Boots had to say about this...

Lee Hubbard:After the attacks there were media reports that you had connections to Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network. Is that true?

Boots: No. Hopefully I will get rich off of that statement. As a result of the album cover, when reporting on what happened on September 11, a newspaper in Manchester, England reported a statement that said me, Boots Riley, had heavyweight ties to the Muslim world and that I knew about the bombing of the WTC. That is totally untrue. I do not think that a newspaper should be allowed to make statements that could destroy someone's reputation, hinder them from making a living and make it difficult to operate on a daily basis. We are going to sue that paper to make sure that we hurt them enough in the pocketbooks so that they do not do that again...

Later on in the interview Boots had thois to say about conscious rap and what the Hip Hop generations response to war should be..

Lee Hubbard: What happened to conscious rap?

Boots: I think that in the first place it was overblown. Its potentials were overblown, because a lot of groups got popular and one of its messages was internal change. People got excited and starting wearing the African medallions, and they thought a change in their life was going to happen. But they went home and there was no food in the icebox. To them, the movement had no basis in the material world. Any music that wants to call itself 'conscious' or 'political' has to connect itself with organizations that are actually involved in campaigns that will raise the standards of living of the people that are listening to the music. In that way only will the music be relevant. But as far as telling someone that they need to change what is in their head, that is not enough. If that is what your picture of the movement is, your music will be shown to be irrelevant and the people will discard it and throw it to the side. Gangster rap is relevant in that you can stand outside and make $10 selling the rock. That is a material connection. It is something that I don't agree with, but it is connected to material. We have to realize that our struggle is about material resources being available for the community.

Lee Hubbard: What should be the hip hop generation's response to the war?

Boots: If people are against this war, they need to vocally and visually put out their viewpoint. They need to show this. Many people who are against this war are quieted because they are afraid of the backlash that will come from the media, the backlash that happened to [Congresswoman] Barbara Lee and countless others that are not only being attacked but are being used to show other people they shouldn't say anything against the war. By keeping people silent, they are distorting what they really think....

Boot's last remarks strike a serious chord as the Anti-Terrorrism bill was just signed into law. The police will now have sweeping powers to search your homes without a warning or you even knowing. They can tap your phones without warning and keep tabs on you if they think you are a terrorist...They can now secretly look at all your records and pass them from one agency to another.. These sweeping laws are not just applicable to the FBI or CIA... they will be able to be used by local police departments... Now some folks who are reading this live in communities where the relationship between police departments and the citizenry are good. But what about places like LA where there have long been serious abuses? Do you think that the new laws now granted to police won't be abused? Certainly y'all saw the realistic portrayal of LAPD by Denzel Washington in Training Day...

Among the bill's most troubling provisions are measures that would:

1- Allow for indefinite detention of non-citizens, even if they have successfully challenged a government effort to deport them.

2- Minimize judicial supervision of federal telephone and Internet surveillance by law enforcement authorities.

3- Expand the ability of the government to conduct secret searches.

4- Give the Attorney General and the Secretary of State the power to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations and block any non-citizen who belongs to them from entering the country. Under this provision, paying membership dues to such an organization would become a deportable offense.

5- Grant the FBI broad access to sensitive business records about individuals without having to show evidence of a crime.

6- Lead to large-scale investigations of American citizens for "intelligence" purposes.

Folks may wanna take a close look at provision number 4. Thats scary.. What exactly constitutes a terrorist group? Will it be the Ku Klux Klan? or Aryan Nation? Will it be the Crips and Bloods? Will it be a group like Uhuru Movement , Cop Watch or a local Hip Hop activist groups like 'Lets Get Free' or Third Eye Movement? If I happen to be hanging out with a guy like Boots who says he views the flag as an oppressive symbol will he be seen as a terrorist or will I be secretly searched because I happen to be hanging with him? If I happen to be a member of a group that opposes George Bush or any of his policies will that group be labeled a terrorist organization and thus its member become subjected to far reaching secret surveillance activities?

Two years ago I wrote an article about a disturbing altercation between Afrika Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation and the New York City Police Department . The Zulus happen to be in a park in Staten Island working with some local neighborhood youth. They were serving as mentors and big brothers and trying to set a positive example on staying out of trouble. Unbeknownst to them they were under surveillance by NYPD who promptly arrested 34 people. They cited a recently passed law that forbade groups of more then 20 for meeting in a public park. The Zulus wound up having to pack the court room for the subsequent trials that took place. Eventually cats were found innocent, but the fact that they had to go through with this is whats so scary. What would've happened if the Zulus didn't organize and go to court day in and day out to support their arrested members? A year after this incident, the Zulu Nation and the newly formed Black Panther Party found themselves being officially classified as a gang by NYPD? There was no rhyme or reason to this label.. But now a peaceful organization that strives to uplift and educate are now viewed in a bad light by New York law enforcement.

Now that we have just watched the signing of this new anti-terrorism bill what does this mean? I recall guys like Bam doing concerts and events to help raise money for the South Africa's ANC [African National Congress] back when Apartheid was in place.. Would such activities under today's new law deem him a potential terrorist? If you recall the ANC was seen as a terrorist organization during the apartheid days.. I recall being a member of Berkeley's ASA African Students Association where there were exiled ANC cats from South Africa.. Could we be accused of harboring terrorist under todays laws?

One of the striking things Bush said during his press conference was there will be harsh penalties for those who aid and abet terrorist? How do you know who is and isn't a terrorist? Where do we draw the line? If you aren't carrying an American flag and singing the Star Spangled Banner should I be suspicious? If you disagree with any current government policy should I be suspicious? Heck if I catch you listening to a Rage Against Machine song or Public Enemy's 'Fight The Power' am I to come under police and FBI surveillance. Will my house be secretly searched?

Lets deal with that aspect.. secretly searched.. Are dissenting American citizens subjected to the police going into their homes and 'suddenly' finding incriminating material that could lead to you being arrested.. Remember these laws are now able to be used by local police...What are the measures that will be put into place to prevent abuses? After all, we run the risk of being labeled terrorist if we form an anti-police organization. All it takes is one member with 'terrorist' ties and tendencies to be a member of the group before all of us our subjected to secret searches..

I was disturbed when listening to the remarks of California Congressman Pete Stark. He said he voted against the bill. He noted that he was concerned about the far reaching provisions. He was also concerned about the fact that only one copy was released for 266 members of his party. They had less than an hour to read through the law and vote. He noted that the procedure was flawed sand that members were rushed to sign the bill. So do members after watching the vicious attacks on people like Congresswoman Barbara Lee decide that in this day of extreme patriotism and anthrax scares, it would be best to sign away our basic freedoms? After all we're at war and because of that extreme measures are needed to fight the' evil ones' right?

My question to everyone is when does that war end? And once the war ends we will rescind the provisions of the anti-terrorism bill? Bush set the stage by saying over and over again this will be a long, drawn out engagement and we won't rest until all the terrorist are gone..The stage was also set when some of his cabinet members stated that the latest anthrax scares are likely to be the work from homegrown folks here in this country. So today we go after Osama bin Laden. Tomorrow it may be Saddam Hussein.. But after America crushes those foes who next? Will they go after paramilitary groups in this country or student activists who oppose the WTO? Will it be Green Party members? Environmentalist? Militant organizations? Will it be the Nation of Islam because Minster Farrakhan frequently visits Muslim countries or even me for writing this newsletter or speaking out on the airwaves? The other thing to keep in mind is that Bush said most of this fight against terrorism will be done in secret. Hence we will have no idea when someone is being abused or unfairly targeted. Who's going to report it? Many in the media are finding themselves being unceremoniously and swiftly silenced. Keep in mind since September 11 there have been a number of newspaper columnist, radio people, and most recently TV reporters either fired, suspended or catching a lot of heat for speaking their minds about the war..The most recent casualty is ABC Newsreporter Carole Simpson. Her remarks about the recent anthrax scare at a conference got her a two week suspension. She was accused of bypassing official ABC procedures for disseminating anthrax information..

Today I was going to do a major Hip Hop update but reading about the latest Dilated People's album or a shooting at involving Mobb Deep seems insignificant at this point in time.. I keep bringing the question back to politics and our involvement with it. I can only encourage folks to stay abreast of as best they can...Chuck D in a recent Terrordome column noted the following;

There's a lotta propaganda goin on alongside the patriotism and 'unitedness' and Americans have to separate the three. I've seen cats wear American flags tied around their heads like gangwear. If you think you're free, the term 'freedom' doesn't mean being free to be 'dumb' as in freedumb. In the US there are twenty three year old black men riding around on bikes at 2:15 pm, smoked out with half their heads braided, not really knowing what's goin down in a minute. Where are the so-called thugs when we need them? When PREZ G-DUB talks of a long drawn out war he's talking about eventually sending thousands of undesirables across the water to fight and possibly die in the rocks, dirt, mountains, and desert of the STAN regions. And prison is not gonna be its usual country club option either, meaning it could be the concentration camp slavehouse mentally in effect if martial law burgeons here. I'm hearin a lotta 30 plus cats talkin about 'what WE need to do' knowing they're not gonna be picked. I'm tellin peeps that war is not a football game. It's something even RUMSFORD is telling the media when he said he would keep things confidential to an extent, saying that advances are not gonna be on a scoreboard in WRIGLEY FIELD....

He continues by noting..

War is serious business and we shouldn't want it. My advice is simple and that's to tell young people that they will have to stay on their Ps and Qs and not take intelligence for granted. Yes, peeps should continue to have a good time but know that there are other circumstances that require maturity, and skillful handling. I'm always in airports, and as a person who has traveled the earth many times over the security transitions just remind me of everywhere else on the planet, they take it very seriously. I can't tell you how many times I saw lack and laziness near a plane. Or the increasing cases of flight-rage coupled with the impatient arrogance of passengers who would complain if their flight was delayed or cancelled due to equipment failure, as if a problem could be fixed at 30,000 feet. So, I tell those in high schools and elementary schools to not half step on their basic studies and to try to realize that college will not be an option this decade. The so-called terrorists all studied, thus I challenge young cats, how can you be part of counter-intelligence if you don't have the intellect in the first place to counter intelligence? Intelligence cannot be purchased over a counter, as many consuming Americans would think...

KRS-One had written some deep stuff regarding this on his Temple of Hip Hop site which has now mysteriously vanished when you point your browser to it.. whats up with that..? In closing the only thing I can really do is encourage folks to be diligent..talk about these new developments and strive to improve the world around you..Someone once said 'Think-It Ain't Illegal Yet'.. With today's current climate, the key word in that phrase is 'Yet'.. Hit me back with your thoughts.. Lets build on this topic mrdaveyd@aol.com..


Send comments, questions and concerns to mailto:kingdave@sirius.com
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