"Abandon. Cultural immunity. I had a self."
December 11, 2014 12:15 PM   Subscribe

"Rap music wasn’t just the black CNN: it was the black Psychic Friends Network. In fact, the history of rap music could be viewed as a litany of complaints about the police that seems to have predicted this current state of unrest."
A pair of articles: one tracing the evolution of rap's relationship with police, from Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five and Public Enemy, to Lil' Wayne and Run The Jewels (previously) and a more personal look at how RUN-DMC and Parliament allowed a writer to embrace his African-American heritage. posted by raihan_ (19 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
 
' "an officer-involved shooting occurred."

That word. Occurred. Like rain occurs. Or wind. An officer-involved shooting is an act of nature that happens of its own volition.'


Wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing both of these.
posted by metasav at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, thanks a bunch.

That second piece is especially great. And the above quote jumped right out at me too.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 1:00 PM on December 11, 2014


The best way to "Fuck the Police" might be to "Film the Police". Some bullshit grand jury might let you off the hook, but the internet will never forget.
posted by Renoroc at 1:17 PM on December 11, 2014


Eric Garner's death was filmed. Didn't seem to do much good.
posted by blue t-shirt at 2:22 PM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Where is the hip-hop response to Ferguson and Staten Island?

Not a bad question. Though that follow up tweet does point out that plenty of things are said about police brutality, but you can't tell me there's anyone out there like Public Enemy (and as popular as PE or NWA either). Kanye says a lot of things.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:26 PM on December 11, 2014


It's done a world of good outside of the legal system; a whole of white people are realizing how fucked the system is because of that video. Also, don't forget its possible use in a civil lawsuit, where you don't need a Grand Jury or crooked prosecutor.
posted by Renoroc at 2:42 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


but you can't tell me there's anyone out there like Public Enemy

Killer Mike is trying and, arguably pretty close given how Run The Jewels has exploded into the public consciousness. See his podcast appearance on The Moment (iTunes link).
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:48 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


or Killer Mike on CNN.
posted by raihan_ at 2:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


My moment of 'oh, I see' with rap was in Tarantino's Django, when Django finally dons his awesome clothes and sits on his horse all badass-like and a ragingly anachronistic hiphop track plays. I think I might even have started nodding, slowly.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:50 PM on December 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Run the Jewels 1 & 2 are both very good, very free albums and you really have no excuse if you don't have them.

Also Killer Mike's "Don't Die" is very topical here
posted by Hoopo at 3:11 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Great post. Byron did a good job with that first piece. I actually asked this question in the Ferguson thread a few days ago. A couple of days before Byron wrote this, so I guess it was on other people's minds. Here's what I said:
Crooked I did a song titled "I Can't Breathe" over the Tupac "Pain" instrumental, that showed up on PRhyme's (Royce & Premier) soundcloud. It's pretty awful, especially compared to what Crooked I can do, so I'm not linking it. Ty Nitty did a song called "Don't Shoot" that's somewhat ok. Wu-Tang put together a themed video to their previously released song "A Better Tomorrow", that has clips of Obama speaking, crowds protesting, and the like.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with this newer generation of rappers, and see if they get involved. All these guys are rappers that have been around for a long long time....Rappers say a lot, and I know Killer Mike and other rappers have been directly involved with a lot of things, but I'm also interested in hearing what they produce in the form of music related to this.
I don't see that anything is going to come from the new generation, and maybe that's fine. I don't know, I haven't really sat and thought it all through. But I've mentioned in past threads that one of the death knells of the late 2000's (along with Crawford's hilarious Kat Stacks reference) was "trying". When you try hard, that's when you die hard. The day before Crawford's piece appeared, RA the Rugged man posted a video with him and Black Thought from the (legendary) Roots talking about how rap has become so simplified these days. And that's the rhymes and the beats. I sat through the full song of O.T. Genasis' wildly popular "CoCo" recently after hearing snippets of it for months. I felt like that scene in 12 Monkeys where Bruce Willis gets drugged up and plopped in the lobby with his presumed mental patient cohort.

But perhaps direct action, as Crawford's piece noted and I noticed with my comments the other day, has replaced making a song about it. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe lost in all the "Black CNN" talk over the years, and having rap songs be scarily accurate about future events, is that it didn't stop those events, right? Science Fiction films are often great because they show us a future in such a way that we recognize that we don't want to go down that road, and it helps us to actually stop it from occurring, or at least prevent the worst aspects from coming into existence.

So maybe you aren't hearing songs about it, but maybe that's a good change? I don't know. I need to think about it more.
posted by cashman at 3:34 PM on December 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wow. I just spent my afternoon down a Carvell Wallace Wormhole and dammit is he a great writer.
posted by metasav at 3:35 PM on December 11, 2014


it was the black Psychic Friends Network. In fact, the history of rap music could be viewed as a litany of complaints about the police that seems to have predicted this current state of unrest

Is he saying Chuck D predicted that someday white people would actually pay attention to and care about police abuse of black people? It's not like police abuse itself was some possible far-future dystopian event that 80's rap was vainly warning us about.
posted by straight at 4:08 PM on December 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Previously, How Hip Hop Failed Black America. These are an amazing set of articles.

I wish I had more to add. My suspicion is hip-hop is past it's nadir, but that won't keep me from looking for more. The amount of amazing hip-hop to come out of the nineties just beggars the imagination.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2014


I don't see that anything is going to come from the new generation, and maybe that's fine.

Kendrick? Don't think you can dispute that he's the "new generation" and if maybe he "sat out" talking about Ferguson directly but he's addressed profiling and police violence more than once. Yeah I know Questlove cited him as an exception too.

p.s. if you're past the nadir that means you're going up again
posted by atoxyl at 5:41 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Q. Why don't you cover political rap?

A: All rap is political.
posted by chrchr at 7:06 PM on December 11, 2014


It's not hip hop that failed black America. It's white America that failed black America.
posted by chrchr at 7:07 PM on December 11, 2014 [2 favorites]




That's crap. But now I think I agree with cashman. A crappy strident bad effective political movement is better than an awesome song. If that didactic dork rap is playing when they convict Eric Garners murderers then who cares who lame the beat is?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:18 PM on December 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


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