Refa 1 & Mark Anthony Neal Speak on Trayvon, Black Male Image & Hip Hop

Refa1 and Mark Anthony Neal

Refa 1 and Mark Anthony Neal

HKR ..The other day we sat down with two long time activist/ educators and Hip Hop practitioners, Refa 1 and Mark Anthony Neal to talk about media images of Black people and how it impacted the George Zimmerman trial and folks in general being profiled. We also talked about Hip Hop and how its being used and misused and the steps we must take to push back on corporate dominance.

Refa 1 who is a pioneering aerosol artist who spoke at length about the importance of us controlling our own images and narratives. He noted that Hip Hop started out being something that we controlled and we allowed it to be turned over to corporate entities who literally turned its meaning and message upside down. he talked about the work he’s been doing with Black writers from all over the world to reclaim image and to set new standards for others to follow. He also spoke about the importance staying connected to the hood and doing work in the hood so that folks who are easily influenced can see quality work right in front of them..

Mark Anthony Neal is a professor at Duke University in North Carolina and the author of several  books including his most recent one ‘Looking For Leroy Illegible Black Masculinities‘  He talked about the ways Black men and Black boys in particular are recognized and not recognized by society at large. In short we are often prejudged and boxed in to fit a certain type of narrative and stereotype.

Neal kicked off our interview by citing an example of how we react when we see a Black boy with  basketball vs a Black boy with a violin.  He explained that for many watching the Zimmerman trial, seeing a black boy as thug has become the norm leaving many with very little leeway to see us any other way. Black boy and Black men are seen as people who have to be contained , policed and controlled.  He went into further detail as to how that plays out in other situations above and beyond the trial.

Both Refa and Mark talked about ways in which we must reclaim our humanity and how its been systematically stripped from us.. We talked about the ways in which Hip Hop and culture can help us heal and repair our image..

below is the full interview with both men.. Take listen they drop a lot of knowledge.

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HKR-Refa 1 & Mark Anthony Neal on Trayvon, Race and Hip Hop

A Conversation w/ Pharaohe Monch

Even in the thick of the bountiful early ’90s scene, the Queens-bred duo known as Organized Konfusion stood out. On their self-titled debut and their revered follow-up, 1994’s Stress: The Extinction AgendaPharoahe Monch and his partner, Prince Poetry, defined the lyrical vanguard with ear-bending enjambment, melodic cadences, stutter-stepping flows, and furious, multisyllabic rhyme flurries. Perhaps more than any of their contemporaries’, OK’s records conveyed an exhilarating sense of possibility: like the avatars of free jazz, they had the chops and the courage to take a song anywhere, at any time.

Conceptually, the group was just as adventurous, rhyming from the perspectives of stray bullets and “hypnotical” gases. The way they cloaked battle rhymes and social commentary in clouds of energetic abstraction marked them as heirs to legendary Bronx super-weirdos the Ultramagnetic MC’s—as well as forefathers to scores of unlistenable rappers who never mastered the proper ratio of organization to confusion.

Critical acclaim and $4.25 will buy you an iced mocha latte, so after a third album, 1997’s The EquinoxMonch decided to go it alone. The year 1999 saw the much-anticipated release of Internal Affairs on the tastemaking Rawkus Records. Like the disc with which it shared advertising space, Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides,Internal Affairs showcased the versatility of a newly solo artist with ambitions and influences that both transcended and embodied hip-hop. Monch crooned, sparred with a who’s-who of guest MCs, and spewed high-concept rhymefests in the OK vein.

But it was “Simon Says,” Monch’s attempt to simplify his flow for maximum commercial impact, that gave the MC’s MC a bona fide crossover hit. Over an ominous sample jacked from a Godzilla movie, it commanded dancers to “get the fuck up,” and they obeyed in droves. Club DJs loved the song; radio embraced it.Charlie’s Angels and Boiler Room picked it up for their sound tracks. Then the Tokyo-smashing monster (or his human representatives) sued for the uncleared sample, and Rawkus was forced to pull the album from stores.

It would be nearly eight years before Monch released his next long-player, Desire,in June 2007—two or three eternities in the notoriously fast-moving world of hip-hop. Few artists could have marshaled a fan base after such lag-time, but hip-hoppers of a certain era are proving to be quite elephantine in the memory department (see: the resurrected career of MF Doom), and Desire found an audience.

It didn’t hurt that the album showcased Monch at the height of his powers: pushing boundaries with conspiracy theories, multipart narratives, and Tom Jones impressions; challenging listeners to digest his wordplay at the rate he served it up (“still get it poppin’ without Artist and Repertoire / ’cause Monch is a monarch, only minus the A & R”); structuring entire verses around the names of financial institutions and wireless devices. Desire manages to be simultaneously indignant and inspiring, defiant and joyful, hilarious and paranoid. Listening to it now, it is striking to realize how palpably the record feels like a document of the late Bush years.

Monch and I spoke several times by telephone shortly after his return to New York from a European tour. He was preparing for an Organized Konfusion reunion show, the first in ten years, and also laying verses for a new album, W.A.R. (We Are Renegades), scheduled for release in February. In each case, we talked until his cell phone ran out of juice.

—Adam Mansbach

Check out http://www.believermag.com/issues/201101/?read=interview_monch where this article original appears

I. THIS IS LADIES NIGHT!

THE BELIEVER: It seems to me that hip-hop today is like jazz was in the early ’70s. For the first time, the major innovators are not new artists, but fifteen- or twenty-year veterans—guys like you, MF Doom, Ghostface, Nas, Jay-Z. Even Lil Wayne has been in it for almost that long.

PHAROAHE MONCH: I think there’s a couple of reasons. Having the savvy to know what you want to say, how you want to say it, and what music you want to say it over comes with time spent and wisdom gained in a music career. Back in the days, a prodigy usually was cultivated by the veterans around him—take Nas, who was surrounded by Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Large Professor, Premier, and L.E.S., all listening to the tone of his voice and the way he rhymes melodically and saying, “He’s gonna sound better over this.” If Nas had tried to produce his first album himself and hand out demos to people… whatever, I don’t need to elaborate. I remember talking to Nas after [his debut verse on Main Source’s] “Live at the Barbeque,” and he was unsure what he wanted to do. It took time for him to cultivate his mental state and decide, This is what type of artist I want to be.

continue reading this article over on our new site HipHopandPolitics.com

Jeff Chang: The Influence Street Gangs Had on the Evolution of Hip Hop

Author Jeff Chang

Straight from the Davey D Archives, we pull out an interview we did with author Jeff Chang back in August of 2008 at the National Political Hip Hop Convention about his book ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop‘. Here we sit down and talk about his perspective on street gangs and how they influenced Hip Hop culture.

Chang talks to us about the culture of abandonment in the late 60s and early 70s when many whites fled the Bronx in what we call ‘white flight’. This left many of the areas impoverished with its decreased tax base. This in turn led to what Chang described as chaos which led to the explosions of gangs who attempted to create and enforce some sort of order.

The gangs grew in size and began to war against one another until it reached a critical point where folks reached a fork in the road. Should they make peace and transform the neighborhoods or continue down a path of destruction. In 1971 the gangs of the Bronx got together and forged a Peace Treaty. The cult movie Warriors was inspired by this Peace Treaty.

Chang noted the 71 peace Treaty paved the way for Hip Hop as it allowed folks from all over to go in various neighborhoods and artistically express themselves via dance, emceeing and deejaying. The birth of Park Jam came about.  You can peep our interview below…Chang is currently working on a book about race and multi-culturlism as a follow-up to his excellent book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OU0lINPtCb0

In our interview I made reference to the 40th anniversary of the Notorious Black Spades who was the largest gang in new York during those early days. The Spades eventually morphed into the Organization and later the Mighty Zulu Nation under the leadership of Afrika Bambaataa who at the time was a key warlord.

Karate Charlie of the Ghetto Brothers and Bam Bam of the Black Spades

We decided to include the videos to that gathering so you can get a richer understanding about the influence.. Included in these clips are members of the Ghetto Brothers who Chang writes extensively about in his book. We also see Black Spade leader Bam Bam. He was the one who gave Afrika Bambaataa permission to use the name.. In these clips you see Bam address younger gangsters in the most intense ways..

We also hear from Hip Hop legend Popmaster Fabel of Rocksteady Crew and Zulu Nation who is working on a documentary about the early gangs called The Apache Line.  In fact he was filming that day.  We also hear from original B-Boy and Zulu nation member Charlie Rock who talks about the White Gangs called Greasers who roamed the Bronx and were  mortal enemies to the large Black and Puerto Rican gangs. he explains how Hip Hop emerged from the chaos underscoring Chang’s earlier points..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nwsdYU4yKM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGYTeRUWK5k

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ufPt8g617I&feature=channel

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycREFrL6-RA&feature=channel

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