Pittsburgh artist Wiz Khalifa has been making a lot of noise as of late. Most recently him and rhyme partner Currensy did song called Huey Newton which has ruffled the feathers of more than a few people who feel like the Black Panther Party co-founder who fought tirelessly for the liberation of Black people is being disrespected.
The song in question has nothing to do with Huey or the Panthers. It’s about smoking weed and kicking it. Hence it left many wondering why name check Huey? Was it to bring controversy or was it a reflection of one’s ignorance where freedom fighters and civil rights icons are seen as fair game for dismissal, ridicule and attacks?
When I heard the song, two things went through my mind. First was the controversy surrounding Outkast when they used the name of Rosa Parks, the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in the biggest hit single off the critically acclaimed Aquemini album.
Many felt it was a huge disrespect, including some of Park’s people who wound up suing Outkast for using her name without permission. According to her representatives, Ms Parks didn’t like the fact that the group used profanity in a song that in no way reflected what she had stood for.
Outkast felt they were being mis-understood. They claimed that they were paying tribute in an artistic sort of way. Parks’ name was used as a metaphor to lay claim that the group was putting others on notice that it was time to make way, ‘move to the back of the bus’ and make way for Outkast.
Many in the Civil Rights community wasn’t buying it. While many in the Hip Hop community questioned the motives behind a lawsuit. Was this really Rosa Park’s sentiments or her people trying to make a buck? The counter to that question and ultimately one of the basis for the lawsuit-was Outkast trying to make a buck off of Rosa Parks?
Eventually famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran got involved on behalf of Parks. The lawsuits were dismissed on freedom of speech grounds but Outkast wound up settling with Ms Parks. They shot her some money and agreed to do a few community benefits for her foundation.
The other thing that went through my mind were the recent name checks where iconic freedom fighters are publicly clowned.
We saw this two years ago when a young columnist from Ebony magazinenamed Jam Donaldson of Hot Ghetto Mess fame took shots at political prisoner and former Panther Mumia Abu Jamal. In her piece she stated;
“One day I’m like, ‘Free Mumia’ and other days I’m like, ‘That n***** probably did it.’ And I’m not afraid to admit it, and I’m not afraid to write about it.”
Donaldson’s remarks angered many of Mumia’s supporters who felt her flippant remarks in a respected publication like Ebony not only added but in some ways legitimized an already poisonous climate set by police department unions who had been on a mission to see Mumia put to death.
Donaldson noted that her remarks and take on things are a reflection of how many in her generation feel these days. They’re sarcastic and have no problem crossing what many in the past may have seen as sacred lines. In her case she saw nothing wrong with dissing a man who was fighting for his life on death row. A few years prior comedian Cedric the Entertainer saw nothing wrong with clowning Rosa Parks by calling her lazy in the movie Barbershop. Parks boycotted the NAACP image awards in which Cedric was appearing as a result.
Today an artist like Wiz Khalifa may see nothing wrong with naming a song after Huey Newton without reflecting his legacy. These are just names to people who now live in an increasingly disposable society.
Here’s a video to the song Huey Newton
Needless to say… the Huey Newton song got a quick rebuke from more than a few people including Minista Paul Scott of the Militant Mind Militia. Below is his video response where he goes in on Khalifa and Currensy
Lastly, weighing in on this is fellow Pittsburgh rapper Jasiri X who feels like situations like this can lead to teachable moments. He knows both Wiz and Paul Scott and feels that we should be building bridges and not causing further divisiveness.
I agree with Jasiri X and I like the video he did in response to the song. At the same time one thing that all of us need to keep in mind is the importance of empathy. We need to walk in each other’s shoes. We need to keep in mind that each generation has heroes and sheroes they hold dear and sadly there are outside forces that routinely malign those leaders and important figures in our community. Hopefully all of us young and old understand this and don’t add to the attacks or in Wiz’s case neglect.
In my generation the icons were Chuck D, KRS, X-Clan, Minister Farrakhan and others who we rallied around. A generation before that, it was the Malcolms, Martins, Shirely Chisolms and Hueys.
The generations after mine came to admire Tupac, Biggie, Diddy. and later Jay-Z.
For today’s generation those figures don’t hold the same emotional cache. They have their own heroes. Is it Lil Wayne? Souljah Boy? Rick Ross, Beyonce? The best way to find out is to ask the young folks around you and build. Who are the heroes and sheroes for today’s generation?
Remember we are in a date and time where ethnic studies is being cut from college campuses all around the country and history text books are being re-written as we speak. Freedom fighters like Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez are being removed and replaced with Newt Gingrich and Jerry Falwell. Community leaders are less and less known while pundits seen on TV and entertainers and music moguls have become the new Civil Rights leaders Should we be surprised if a Wiz Khalifa doesn’t hold a Huey Newton close to his chest in 2010?
Here’s Jasiri X’s remarks:
I saw the controversy over the Wiz Khalifa and Currensy song called Huey Newton, including the video response by Paul Scott of the Militant Mind Militia, and being that I know both Wiz and Paul I thought I should weigh in.
I certainly understand why the conscious community would be upset with Wiz and Currensy considering the subject matter of the song, but I just wanted to offer some perspective. I grew up in a very conscious household, however in my early 20s, I dropped out of college and spent most of my days smoking weed, writing rhymes and hustling to support my habit. I figured I was gonna be an MC so I was gonna have as much fun as I could on the way to the top.
Eventually, that lifestyle got old and by the grace of God I regained my conscious mind and began trying to use my talents and gifts to uplift humanity. Wiz grew up around conscious people and he’s one of the most mature young men I’ve ever met. Where he is now…experiencing the tremendous highs of living his dream…does not mean he’s going to stop growing as a person.
I don’t know Currensy, but I did find it interesting that Huey Newton was born in his home state of Louisiana.
I don’t think Paul Scott was wrong in expressing how he felt and his frustration with the state of Hip-Hop. Knowing Paul, I know he spoke out of sincere love for his people and a desire to see us do better. But, I felt like instead of creating more division, I could use this as a teachable moment, so I grabbed the instrumental and did what I do. Paradise recorded the session at James Webb Studios, we added a interview Huey Newton did with William Buckley plus one of his speeches and pieced together the video we called “The Real Huey Newton”.
Didn’t Huey Newton die at the hands of a drug dealer? Wasn’t it allegedly a drug deal gone bad? Maybe Wiz Khalifa knows more than all of us…and inadvertedly hit the nail on the head.
I tell people all the time that it has been done. Black people have assimilated with white culture. There is no more black culture and it’s sad. No one has took the baton from Public Enemy, Krs-one, Dead Prez. Athletes selling out in numerous ways, no more Ali’s, Jim Brown’s. The black communities continue to get more violent because our it takes a village to raise a child has disappeared. Our treasures our being sold to others, BET, Essence. Ask any kid about Malcolm, Nat, Huey and they will say who? Corporate America has done it’s job along with the government to get rid of any inkling of black pride, black unison, black anything.
Yes Huey did die at the hands of a drug dealer.. he had a substance abuse problem..at the same time..he was also speaking about liberation and freedom at the Uhuru House not long before he died.. He also was fighting the governments attempt to send him to prison on a trumped up gun charge from 10-yrs prior.. similar to SF 8 situation.. No i dont think Wiz was hitting on anything..
Thank you Davy for this wonderful piece as usual. I think that Jasiri X hit on a wonderful point–use this as a teachable moment. We really have to be more affirming and restorative in terms of how we engage the youth. That said, the way that Paul Scott, You, Jasiri X and others responded was so Hip-Hop. This forum reflects the democratic dimension of Hip-Hop and this is a good thing. Keep bangin brotha.
I know that Wiz and them are pretty young, and may not have any knowledge of self yet. I don’t agree with them doing a song about Huey Newton that is essentially about getting high and hitting chicks. Not saying that Huey was perfect, but what he stood for and fought for was as righteous as can be. Brothas like Huey, Bobby Seale, Fred Hampton, Malcom, MLK, The Soledad Brothas, Angela Davis, Stokley Carmichael, etc. In my opinion you can’t make light of them nor their actions.
Min. Paul Scott went in on them at the end of his video, and when I say he went in he tried to educate the young brothas about what has happened historically in the black community. The FBI, CIA, etc. did some horrible things in order to destroy any and all black orgs that were fighting to uplift blacks, impoverished individuals in general. Paul asks them a simple question are they knowingly trying to bring down the black community, which side are they on.
I certainly think that the Feds are trying to do to hip hop what they did to the blacks groups in the 60’s and 70’s. They want to destroy any positive movement. In some form or fashion I believe that is one of the reasons Tupac is not here with us any longer. If Pac only rapped about getting high and hitting chicks it would have been all good, but Pac was rapping about social injustice (Brenda’s Got A Baby), freeing political prisioners (In This White Man’s World) when Pac shouts out all the OG civil rights leaders. When he talked about Huey getting shot in the song (Changes), etc. Pac was a heavy young brotha, with the Black Panther family background. Basically being young is no excuse for being uninformed in regard to our history. We got to teach these youngsters. Each one, reach one, teach one…. Peace
The fact that Wiz and Curen$$y don’t speak to any of the NUMEROUS positives of Huey and the BPP at all is problematic; especially if they claim to be ‘conscious’ in any kind of way, and especially with both amerikkkan and knee-grow reactionaries attacking the legacy, militancy, and ideology of both in a time when there are many young people just now beginning to look at this history for the first time with sets of fresh eyes that are watching their world inplode around them (and us).
Ironically, both had ‘interesting’ visits to the 206 recently.
According to the G.I.A. (“Ghetto Intelligence Agency”) Wiz Khalifa was BEAT DOWN at his own post-show after party at Venom. When Curen$$y was here, folks walked out in big groups as he performed. And this was after the town ruthlessly boo’d the opening act that was traveling with him. Lol.
Clealry, they need to do what dead prez said and “Study Malcolm, Garvey, Huey…”
Quite honestly, I’ve smoked some Kush named Obama so I’m not trippin’ off a song called Huey Newton lmao.. That Obama had me hella paranoid tho lol..
Who We Are
The first spark of light on the horizon that conquers the night
With wings spread wide, a dove’s first flight
The moment when Mother Teresa realized her faith was forever gone
The fact that no matter how pious minded, we all at some point in life commit wrongs
The spear that broke the cord holding Captain Cook’s soulless body to this world
The desperation of that Afrikan sister by the roadside scraping the dirt for pearls,
With the only hope of feeding her starving malnourished little girl
The first stone thrown, smashing the helmet of riot police
All across the globe on so-called Third World streets
The rivers of blood which has been shed and spilled in pursuit of democracy and peace
The hole in the ozone, widening more and more by the passage of time
The message the masses will never decipher encoded in Tupac’s most prophetic rhymes
The stone in the shoe of these repressive secret society groups
The awakening of what, for too long, has been deemed “used to”
The liquid used to keep cool the worlds super computer
The voice of reason
So it perplexes me when I see us not acknowledging this truth…
Minista Paul Scott should rally against and try to challenge the American Public School Boards of Education because that is where the covert war on our future generations is waged today! Brothers like the disrespectful rapper are a lost cause in my opinion.
Very informative post Brother D!
Of course the definitive song for Dr. Huey P. Newton was recorded by me back when Huey died. He was a friend of mine. This song was recorded and then performed at the Commemoration Committee Event which was held at Defremery Park later that year. Below is the link to my remix of “HUEY P. NEWTON DIED FOR MY SINS (MARTYR) which is available for download.
SMETMES WE CAN MKE A BIGGER DEAL ABOUT SMALL THINGS…THE HUEY P REMARK CAN ALSO POINT SME WHO R THNKN IN THE RT DIRECTION W REGARD TO THESE FREEDOM FIGHTERS- PAST PREZ N FUTURE…KEEP WORKN. CB
Peace Davey. I to did a response to this song that is worth checking out. Coming out of Oakland, the home of the Panthers, I feel that it is important to honor our revolutionary traditions and four fathers. I teach kids in the Oakland public school system and it is a travesty to see how little they know about their own history. The legacy of Huey P. Newton need’s to be respected and not used to promote music to our young people about smoking weed, blowing money and having sex with groupies. If it was not for Huey P. Newton, Wiz and Curren$y’s voice would probably not even be heard. It’s our job as Hip-Hop artist’s and revolutionary activist’s to regulate the culture and check the disrespect, not make excuses for our brothers and sisters who speak out of ignorance. With that sayed, peep my refix of THE REAL HUEY P. NEWTON and let me know what you think. 1
The Real Huey P. Newton
Written, performed and recorded by UNITY
If Huey P. didn’t fight you couldn’t rap about b!tches and blunts.
You need to do a real tribute, and hail him up.
Our ancestors were raped, murdered, denied to.
Now we just sit back and make music to get high to.
From Malcolm X and by any means necessary,
To money over hoes; every thing else is secondary.
Could take the name but you could never be as legendary.
At least as long as these cracka’s still predatory,
And cops will gun you down in the town for holding a scale,
I’m thinking ‘bout some other sh!t besides you and your mail.
See I’m not saying that it’s not positive that your’ employed.
But I think this whole capitalistic system needs to be destroyed.
The money’s made from the cotton that our ancestors picked
With slave masters on it claiming we was only three fifths
a human being, could never set me free man.
And if that’s what you think then your enslaved by these Europeans.
The pursuit of paper and thinking it’s gonna bring you power is false.
The power’s with the people in the final hours.
See you can make some cash and even smash a track with Jigga,
but to the true wealthy you’ll only be a rich n!gga.
I ain’t hating toy.
Just saying study your history.
It’s out there for ya.
See this system is so racist
and were so complacent now that Huey P Newton’s gone. ( Repeat last line four times)
Unity-Verse 2 (10 point plan):
We want power to determine the destiny of our community.
This is the reason that I keep saying its time for UNITY.
We need full employment of all our people.
Demand the government promote a higher standard of living if we are all equal.
Until the capitalistic robbery of our people ends,
You best believe that I’m demanding forty acres and a Benz.
We want decent housing and education
that teaches knowledge of self so the next generation can see what I’m sayen;
and overstands the situation and gets some motivation to shake up the system till we get free health care in this nation.
Stop every war and conflict waged by the oppressor.
Or by any mean’s we will rise up against the aggressor!
Demanding freedom for all brothers and sisters on lock down.
Can’t get a fare trial so we gon’ hold court on the block now.
Dissolve the system. Take it back to nature. Can you follow me?
Then give the people the control of modern technology.
This is what that song could have and should have been. This is the truth and nothing but the truth. So let’s stop making these soft songs and giving these soft rappers a pass. It’s not about who’s your buddy in the industry. It’s about preserving the integrity of the culture. ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE. NOT THE $$$
people will do whatever it takes to get publicity nowadays.
@alisoncecilejohns Yea, like make a song called Huey Newton and not speak a word on the man and what he stood for. Brothers and sisters like me really hold it down in the town though as educators, artist’s and activists. Check the record and the family history. Best believe that if I have a valid opinion on a current event I am going to speak my mind. And best believe that I speak up and take a stand for my people, because that’s what being an MC is about to me, not the ego. I feel this is my duty as an MC and a culture keeper.
It’s a damn shame more of us with the gift aren’t doing the same thing. It’s also a damn shame that many of the people with the resources and influence in the culture ride the fence and don’t take a more militant stance and promote zero tolerance for the disrespect. It’s like they got us silenced, and our own people will condemn the real freedom fighters for speaking out. Willie Lynch is active as we enter 2011. They sure ain’t making em like Huey any more. I am thankful to be blessed by the knowledge and guidance of the true OG’s and preservers of the culture. I take carrying on that legacy very seriously, and bite my tongue for no one! ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!
My last comment, for now. Much respect to the Truth Minista Paul Scott for his insight and reaching out.Big ups to Jasiri X for his contribution and current information and also the brother who did the song that Davey D posted today called Huey P. It’s all relevant, positive awareness and real Hip-Hop. We are united in our effort to speak truth and make the truth the movement. Join in the movement and lets get organized so that we can activate as the people!
CIA/FBI Trolls online making sure Wiz and Currensy true message is never undertsand and always overlooked. These COINTELPRO agents don’t want this current hiphop movement associated with any black power movements whatsoever. Image if Wiz put people down with atleast all of the names of black radicals from our past then that may spark one of his weed smoking fans to pick up book and research that very name that Wiz gave honor to in his song Huey Newton Ft. Currensy. but no you got these slick ass agnets the same kind that took huey and his movement down completely, only the image and the spirit still lives today in revolutionary souls like Wiz Khalifa and his good friend Currensy, they are both about peace and uplifting our people…………..love them like my blood brother………………….POWER to all power, black, white, brown, yellow, whatever……………#MSEempire