RIP Mayor Ed Koch: He Repped a Bygone Era in NY and Was an Enemy to Hip Hop

Mayor Ed KochWoke up this morning to hear that former New York City Mayor Ed Koch had died… According to the initial reports, he passed because of heart failure. For what seemed like decades, Koch was the face and symbol of New York.. When compared to current Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, Koch repped the New York of what is now a bygone era.. I’d rather have Koch over these two clowns, but make no mistake Koch was not a friend.. He was just an enemy we all got used to…

For those of us into Hip Hop, Koch was a constant presence and a major thorn in the side.. The Koch I remember was one who although a ‘liberal’ Democrat didn’t have a whole lotta love for Black and Puerto Ricans. He made us the scape goat for all the ills troubling the Big Apple and long before Chief William Bratton hit the scene along with Giuliani, it was Koch who came after poor folks on so-called quality of life crimes..

It was Koch who had abandoned buildings that ran along the commuter lines in the South Bronx painted with nice colors and fake people so that people traveling into the city would not see or noticed the devastation of areas many of us called home..The irony of that was Koch launched an all out war on spray can (graffiti) artists while he, himself was literally having walls painted in the Bronx…It was on Ed Koch’s watch that we saw the brutal death of graf artist Michael Stewart at the hands of NYC transit cops.. When you say Ed Koch, I think about that..

When you say Ed Koch I think of police shooting Eleanor Bumpurs to death with a 12 gauge shotgun as they tried to evict the unarmed emotionally disturbed woman from her apartment..

When you say Ed Koch, I think of the racial climate of hostility he fostered which culminated with the vicious attacks at Howard Beach when a mob of whites chased three Black teenagers across a freeway killing one.. Its hard to seperate Ed Koch from the drama he helped stir up..

The Ed Koch I remember was one who sicced the police on early b-boys/B-girls when they set up to dance in the subways or downtown at Times Square which was actually pretty seedy (Pre-Disney upliftment)..He was the ultimate hater…It made everyone go in that much harder…

The Koch I remember was one who went after Jesse Jackson pretty hard when he ran for President and shocked everyone by winning several primaries.. Koch was a big hater  and that pissed off a lot of folks at the time.. Yes Koch repped a bygone era in New York and many will miss him..I just wanna be clear about missing the bygone era where he was a constant presence vs missing him when he used us as scapegoats for political gain…

21 comments on “RIP Mayor Ed Koch: He Repped a Bygone Era in NY and Was an Enemy to Hip Hop

  1. Well said. Don’t understand why people deem it as disrespectful for just telling the truth….I swear we have selective amnesia when it comes to people abusing our community

  2. A couple of things from someone who lived the South Bronx 70’s Hip-Hop life… one is Ed Koch was addressing societal dysfunction which anyone who lived in that time have to admit dysfunction was real. Enough of this “community” bullshit. We were the heroin addicts and the dealers. We were the one snatching chains, smoking dust, freebasing, sticking up parties and jams, etc etc. We were the ones used to handouts from the government for multiple generations. Enough with this “blmae the white people’ bullshit. Stop it.

    Law and order is not some kind of form of oppression. That is that poor urban black United States mentality, where any kind of authority is ‘racist’ and ‘oppressive’. Victimology at its best.

    Thats what happens when people don;t have self rule or responsibility, they complain and blame. In Haiti where there has been self black rule for two centuries there was a dictatorship and the rulers were black. The police were black. The minute “freedom” came and there wasn’t anymore law and order the country looked like the Bronx. The same thing in Africa. The problem wasn’t Ed Koch, the problem is this generation of US people of color who think that the government has to give them everything. There is heat and hot water in the projects and the education is free in the USA and niggas still go to jail. Maybe people need to listen to Bill Cosby and not people who make excuses for “black” folk no matter what bad they do to their own.

  3. O-MEG I don’t believe you were living in the south Bronx and if you were were then your response underscores you being clueless..Your response around Law and Order, welfare etc reflects a detachment to the systemic realities of the day.. So nice try and save that BS for someone else on another day..Naw fam you weren’t living there or perha[ps you lived there and did like Koch scapegoated vs dealing w/ the real criminals of the day..

  4. I don’t know how you can make a detailed judgement based on one comment. I’m not detached. I was on those Watson Avenue corners and was a member of the biggest NY robbery crew in the 80’s.

    I’m from Harrod Avenue one block from Bronx River. My Hip-Hop foundation is solid, from cut sleeves and MC boots through Jew-Man gear to Dapper Dans. I get dap from legends at the Crotona Park jams.

    My political education is solid also, my grandmother was a Garveyite in Harlem, before he got deported. Be careful with who you accuse of being “detached from reality’. There can be a difference in viewpoints, just like Booker T. Washington and DuBois had two different visions.

    DuBois even differed from Garvey. in a more globalized world, the reality is that the Hip Hop cultural narrative or political values are not going to be dictated by those whose families suffered through Jim Crow, follow the one drop rule, moved to northern cities and fell behind the Kwame Torre black power ideology or any other philosophies that had favor with the poor, young and less educated in the 50’s and 60’s.


    Not when the 3 pillars of Hip-Hop are all of Caribbean stock. Not when there s a Kenyan-American, mixed race president. The values of 4% of all who came in the middle passage can no longer be the only and dominant dialogue. There are other experiences that don’t come from USA disenfranchisement but from strength.

    There was a Haitian Revolution you know. Not all of us give “white people” so much power.

    Not everyone is somehow ‘confused” or “lost” because they don’t buy into every single thing Huey or Malcolm said back when they had the stage, at this juncture. It is 2013 man, people need to stop with all this ‘disenfranchised youth’ stuff. We are middle aged men now, older than MLK, Malcolm and the Panthers were when they had the stage. We can think for ourselves and look at things that are not working and lead instead of rehashing the same old arguments that don;t offer any viable solutions but point out problems.

    A lot of bad came out of the ‘Hip-Hop’ generation also… and we had choices.

    Even if there was COINTELPRO, even if the CIA put drugs in the community at bargin prices. Nobody made people smoke dust or sell coke. Gangsters or whatever title they choose understand the life that is chosen, not imposed. The police will beat you down, they will be corrupt and rob you, they will harass all the nice middle class kids in Co-Op City who wanna dress like us and immolate our behavior. Its part of the lifestyle. It is the regular guys who wanna look like outlaws that complain.

    Koch was an old man, of course he was not going to support or see the value in graffiti culture. But to say he was an enemy of Hip Hop is a stretch. He was not that conscious to declare war on a culture that even R&B DJ’s and gospel singers didn’t support. A mayor cannot be blamed for every instance of police brutality. Go to Jamaica the municipal governments are run by blacks and the police still kill people in dozens. Thats not a racial thing. That happens everywhere. Even in socialist countries.

    So what if Koch went after Jessie Jackson. The same Jessie Jackson who somehow got out of Memphis when the city was locked down. The same one who lied about being next to Martin. The same Jessie who has been an operative forever. The same one who brought us back to the stone ages with his neo-segregation wrapped in racial pride. He called NY “Hyme town”….yeah the same Jews that financed the Montgomery direct action with Rosa Parks. The same Jews that backed Martin King. No wonder MLK didn’t trust him.

    On that I side with Koch. Jessie dont speak for nobody.

    After being Forty-Deuce kid whose experience was peep-show girls and all of their sadness and suffering. I have to side with Koch that the sleaze had to go. New York is in a better place now, yes we had a culture but that culture came out of suffering. Not every white person is an enemy just because the didn’t support the ‘Wild Style’. That is our generational expression and experience, not before or after. It is what it is and it was what it was. Ease off brother.

  5. O-MEG.. The facts were Koch used Black people during his tenure as political scapegoats.. Let’s not beat around this fact and 20 years after the fact make excuses or push some rhetoric about how we should do for self.. People in our community have always done for self..the fact that you framed your remarks as if they didn’t then or now underscores my detached from reality statement..

    Second pt, You’re the one who put victimization into the discussion.. I never did.. Koch disliked blacks, came down hard on innocent, perceived criminals and criminals. He oversaw a police department that had more than its share of brutality cases that he either supported or dismissed. And he disliked Hip Hop.. Did he need to like it? Nope.. Was he supportive of efforts of folks who tried to make a way out of no way.. absolutely not.. Those are facts.. and in spite of it many went on to survive and do bigger and better things.. I assume you did.. right O_MEG? I know I did… Are we the only two folks living in the Bronx to come out and be successful? This is not about bemoaning the fact Koch didn’t support Wildstyle..No one asked for his blessing or lost sleep over his distaste for the culture..

    Third, Did Koch support Jesse Jackson? Nope and at the time, that upset many Black people in NY.That was fact.. Maybe it didn’t upset you at the time brother.. maybe you had it all together or maybe you were busy doing your own dirt and didn’t care. Whatever the case, it doesn’t change the fact that the discussion many had in 83, 84…Koch disliking Jesse before he made those Hymietown remarks upset folks-That’s a fact..If one wants to look back at what was going on at that time that fact needs to be noted which I did, not this revisionism about Jesse don’t speak for no one so you sided with Koch..Easy to say in 2013..not so easy in 84 except for you and maybe a few others who had it ‘all together’.. Jesse captured a lot of imaginations and inspired many at that time.. Koch didn’t dislike Jesse bc jesse lied about King or was an operative..

    In terms of who did drugs in the face of all that was happening, whether it was a choice or folks coping is matter of opinion and will vary from person to person.. I never did drugs ever dispite all my hardships.. the guy down the street who came back from Vietnam did.. I have no idea his demons and nor do you..drugs became the ready answer for entire generations

    Lastly I don’t dismiss or give a pass to systemic conditions of oppression, police terrorism or give passes to those who push them on the community.. fighting oppression doesn’t make you a person handing over power..It’s about trying to bring about justice and better tomorrows for the future and those who for whatever reason couldn’t figure it out.. If you chose to shyt on folks and blame them for their short comings that’s on you homie. I’ll show compassion strength and support and hold feets to the fire of those who attack..

    Bottomline Koch was a dipshyt..and deserves no support whatsoever..from what I gather you’re a supporter of his..I’ll just shake my head at that..

  6. When two truthers from the Bronx clash each others hetero_sexism around, the major can sleep still Krautland Katastrophicland again and again. He was – like all others a lobbyist and self made mafia icon…

  7. Dave, I have admired the bulk of your work for a long time. I just disagree with the narrative that you are kicking in 2013 as a correct communal view. It makes a lot of assumptions of who the community is and what viewpoints “we” are supposed to have. New York City is not the same as any other city when it comes to black identity.

    First off: “blacks” are not and have never been a cohesive group with an single agenda under one umbrella. Especially not here in New York.

    New York City is not Detroit or Chicago. The is no single “black community” here with “black leadership”. That is a myth.

    However there are groups of USA blacks who like to pretend there is, anointing themselves spokesmen for “the community”.

    Not true, and was never true.

    Haitians, Jamaicans, Senegalese, Nigerians and Dominicans all have different identities and agendas. They are the majority of black people in New York. Immigrants or their children. West Indians/Caribbeans were the bulk of the Harlem population before a small southern influx in the 30’s and 40’s and those people have largely returned to the south.

    The narrative you are speaking is not false, but does not apply in New York City. Maybe in Atlanta, Oakland or Washington DC, but not here. This is a city of black immigrants and has since the days of the Harlem Renascence.

    That gives a different community viewpoint.

    Again, when you have Jean Jacques Dessalines, you don’t need Jessie Jackson for inspiration. Remember, USA blacks are only 4% of all blacks in the western hemisphere, the othe 96% are from Latin America and the Caribbean. Not everybody was jumping behind Jessie like that in New York City.

    Not when Kwame Nkrumah was president of Ghana in 1957, not when Haile Selassie I was crowned king of Ethiopia in 1930. Not when we ran the French out of the western hemisphere in 1804.

    Jessie running in 1984 for USA president was kind of late. Its not a diss, just a fact. Him being a FBI informant and someone who has been suspected of assisting in the murder of Dr. King has always made him someone not to admire. He is a COINTELPRO creation and that cant be a good thing.

    And that’s where I say, when it comes to Jessie Jackson, I support Koch. Jessie is the scumbag. He has been an operative for the same forces that killed King and X.

    Does that mean Koch was completely an angel? No, absolutely not.

    He had an agenda and his allies. But he was never an total enemy to the Trinidadian community in the Brooklyn or the Haitian community in Queens or Africans on 116th Street in Harlem, they are black people also. More black than Jessie Jackson, who has quite a bit of native american and European blood.

    New York City was a mess and all ethnic groups have their time to dominate crime. The Irish from the 1800’s till the early 1900’s, the Italians and the Jews from 1910 to the 1960’s, the Caribbean groups English and Spanish speaking and southern blacks from the 50’s onto today. Next it will be other groups new to New York as we move on. Koch wasn’t criminalizing anyone, it was our time to be outlaws and he was the mayor. It was what it was. Nothing personal, just business.

    You do a lot of good work Davey and I respect all you have done for HIp-Hop, I just think you should take a few moments to step back and examine a different viewpoint, even just for a second.

  8. And here is the other thing…..before you respond……….as you always do intelligently and just from another angle of truth at the same ball…….

    Not all USA-pre-antebellum rooted blacks caucused with everyone who may have been poor or working class in the 1980’s, and I come from the ghetto, so imagine how out of my lane I have to go to even attempt to understand but not necessarily support their viewpoint..

    These people came from a legacy of founding members of the NAACP and attended HBCU’s and were icons in Harlem before the 1950’s/60’s brain-drain exodus. Many of them felt betrayed and embarrassed by the hijacking of the identity by the black underclass, their words not mine..

    They have a side to the story also and not as many of them disagreed with some of Koch’s polices when it came to crime in the inner city as you would think….. even if it did effect skin-folk …

    because skin-folk don’t mean kin-folk.

    They still voted Republican because of Lincoln and didn’t read Jet magazine or watch Soul Train, but that didn’t make them any less of African decent or even sellouts.

    It was a class thing, it was a college educated vs not thing. It was a corporate job vs a city job thing. Just different viewpoints, yet both black-USA rooted.

    This Jack and Jill group were disconnected from the Hip-Hop culture completely, but it didn’t mean that they didn’t care or had the “wrong” solution, they just had a different one.

    I think our debate may be more over cohesiveness in belief and agenda, than right and wrong.

    As the Yoruba say…Elegua stands at the crossroads of our decision making. It is cause and effect, rather than right and wrong. The absolute right and wrong pedagogy is more of a Christian thing inherited from Europeans than is rooted in African belief systems. In the end, it all works together.

    I’m just trying to point out that Koch, just like anyone was a man, he made mistakes, as did Jessie as did Jackie Robinson as did DuBois. They are people who back up people just because they have a similar complexion or monetary status. We are all Hip-Hop but there is room for differences of opinion, none are right nor wrong. Just different.

    Just some food for thought. Again, I respect your work and all that you’ve done for Hip-Hop brother.

  9. Yeah Dude I agree. It is good to have a differnece of opinion.
    However, let me interject where I slightly disagree with you.
    According to Jessie New York is Hymietown. Well wrong word but when it comes to politics he is right. Koch embraced the idea of what would be known as stop and frisk
    as stop and Confiscate.. Cops were big into the numbers racket because the so called leader was negligent. Don’t need to question validity I know what I am talkin about ; knew people a lot bigger than stick up kids Yo ; no disrespect.
    New York didn’t become better cleaner less violent. It actually got worse with the onslaughting crack epidemic. When he retired crime was at an alltime high.
    So yes I agree with some of your comments ; but I also strongly understand where Dave is comin from

  10. Like they told Sammy the bull when he was a young stick up artist, you have to be connected. The problem back then, as it is now is that the USA descended black-mafia has tried to operate independent and hostile to cooperation with other groups in the pecking order, particularly white ethnic groups, that laid down the foundations here in New York. You can only afford to act independent when you have an international machine behind you, not a domestic outlaw group that does not have the support of the government.

    When you are international you have a government back home that will back you up somewhere, a place to launder cash to garner support, diplomats who will run interference, a military that will guard planes of cargo. But when you don’t have the support of the people who control your own gov’t you cannot expect to curry favor with anyone. At 10% of the population, mostly concentrated in southern states where they are not even the majority, USA blacks are not in that position, especially in New York where they are even a minority among the black immigrant groups. The Jamaicans will have more power. The Dominicans will have more power. They are international, not domestic.

    Even corrupt cops are connected into some machine: Irish, Jewish, Italian, Dominican, Nigerian, Russian. The difference is all of those groups have different international mechanisms to work behind the scenes, bigger than an interstate connection. When the highest level is domestic traffic or domestic retail sales and you don’t control the means of production or international trade routes you are expendable and will always going to be on the short end. Even the domestic crackers down south are in that position.

    The bottom line is that this is New York, is a city that will always be controlled by international groups, not domestic ones. White or black, this is not a city where migrants from other states or the south will ever have any real power, without having to pay the piper or become the scapegoat. Whether Walker, LaGuardia, Lindsey, Koch, Guiliani or Bloomberg, the machine of the international ethnic groups is just bigger and stronger when it comes to this town. Thats just the way it is. To complain or organize and march is not going to change that fact ever.

    The Arabs are here now, the Albanians are here now, the Haitians are here, the Kenyans are here. The Chinese are deep and strong. Sometimes you have to just realize that a town is not ever going to be good to you an move on to a place where you can control your own destiny.

  11. Just seeing ur posts O_meg.. i agree with ur last post on international control…No argument here…and I think we are on the same page around the issue of class. I long been taught u organize around values, least u get a rude awakening..

  12. Meg your getting into some heavy stuff ; you wanna break bread sometime and shoot the breeze thats cool. Really don’t want to continue down this road on a website.
    Your overall thesis is right ; there are all kind of controls. But once again some of your examples are off.
    These groups are autonomous but they interconnect. The key is to connect but don’t lose your identity (or on deeper level your soul.) What deals can you cut while mainting a strong link.because pure autonomy is death to any organization or business.
    How this relates to hip-hop is simple (because this is a hip-hop website).
    Yeah Jay Z needs to cut a deal with an advertiser. OK fine. But is he doin at theI xpense of losing his IDENTITY or if you will the hip hop charter. Answer—of course YES he has. Thats why I support some comments people make.Is he gettin his – oh yeah !!!! Is he true to the founding fathers or rules. I am no expert but hell no.

    Niow obviously the consequences are much heavier if you violate rules from the syndicates your talkin about. But the internal battle is the same.

    One more thing. This stop and frisk is not new : its just a continuation. First there was Stop and Confiscate. THen for the big boys you coulc throw in RICO. Now theres Stop and Frisk which really is straight violation of rights. Why ? There aren’t criminals in three piece suits ? Cops have never free-based ? Under Stop and Confiscate ; yes thats what it was ; you had more junkies than ever because shit foloated all over the place.

  13. True that Nick. Never know what or who may take a conversation and try to turn into something sinister and criminal. Exactly, the examples are never perfect. I think that’s where dialogue becomes a learning lesson from others who see it closer, deeper with more insight or from a different angle.

    @ Davey, YES, values are the ties that bind. 100% with you on that. Sometimes common ground, but I think it comes down to the heart and soul.

    But of course I’m like everyone else….still trying to figure it out.

    Good building with you brothers.

  14. I stand by what I said. No where in my ONE SENTENCE did I mention being a victim or blaming anyone for anything. I merely mentioned being TRUTHFUL about a man and the way he treated me and MY community. Which despite any shortcomings is very, very real. As real then as it is now. Peace be unto you

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