Was peeping this recent video from Hiero directed by Casual who recently did a song and video addressing gun violence in their native Oakland..The song added to the nationwide highly controversial debate about gun control.
“We are not promoting guns or violence,” explains Tajai (Hieroglyphics / Souls Of Mischief), “but simply expressing our thoughts on the issue and encouraging further dialogue.”
In watching those two video, I got to thinking about how divided folks within Hip Hop have been on this topic over the years. While its probably safe to say, when asked very few would advocate violence, but there have been quite a few artists ranging from Ice T to Spice 1 who have said absolutely ‘No’ to retiring their guns..While rap peers like Pharaoh Monch and Nas have given voice to the harms of hot led flying through our community.
Of course we had last year’s famous twitter debate between NRA member Killer Mike and Boston emcee Akrobatik. This is the fullexchange which was captured by the good folks over at The Rap Up.
That debate reminds of the ones that jumped off back in the days when Ice Cube’s old group, Da Lench Mob, made it clear that the AK-47 was essential for us to get our freedom… How many of y’all remember this video and these searing lyrics?
An AK talks but bullshit runs
I wish I had time to count all my guns
‘Cause a nigga is runnin’ out of funds
But H.Rap says “Freedom got a strap!”
[I wish I was in dixie Ak Ak
Then shit wouldn’t have been bad in the sixties
No way No way]
We also have long time gun enthusiast Bay Area rapper E-A-Ski who came on my radio show and got into a heated debate with gun control folks..He like Killer Mike who came on the scene years after, has long argued against banning guns. He did this popular song back in the days called ‘Blast if I Have To‘
This weekend Something from Nothing The Art of Rap opens in theaters this weekend and as I noted in my earlier review it is absolutely deserving of an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. It’s compelling, witty and much-needed in terms of refocusing us on what Hip Hop and rap in particular is really about. Ice T who made the film really did his thing..
Earlier this week Chuck D of Public Enemy who is featured in this documentary alerted us to an excellent article On Blackness, Humanity and the Art of Rapthat his wife Dr Gaye Theresa Johnson had penned for the Huffington Post. She absolutely nails it and I urge everyone to read it.. She kicks things off:
Blackness — in style and sensibility — has been one of the most admired, most reviled, most circulated, and least credited set of characteristics in the history of commodification. And there can be no better example of this than hip hop. When rap music first gained mainstream traction in the late seventies, its artists were dismissed and disrespected by politicians, pundits, and the music business itself. But by the late eighties, the same corporate bodies who had previously shunned it were making millions of dollars selling it. By 1990, label executives had created a “gangsta formula,” a business hook that repackaged rap’s depictions of black urban realities into a titillating buffet of hypermasculinity and glorified violence, relegating women artists to the margins and creating a new outlet of expression for what became its largest consumer demographic: young white men.
She also notes…
The Art of Rap writes humanity back into rap music in a moment when black people are more popular than ever in mainstream society, but in some incredibly damaging ways. We’ve mistaken the proliferation of black images in the media for the notion that there is some kind of equality of positive representation of black humanity.
Dr Gaye Theresa Johnson connects Blackness & Humanity to the Art of Rap
In reading Dr Gaye’s article and reflecting on the film, it wasn’t lost on me how the this weekend’s box office opening was downplayed as we were met with lots of noise about the opening of the movie Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Jay-Z opening his new 40/ 40 Club in the new Barclay Center and the ugly fight between singers Chris Brown and Drake. If you live in NYC the police killing of a young black women in Brooklyn who they say was in a stolen car has also dominated the headlines.
Don’t get me wrong, at this point in time, one shouldn’t expect the mainstream media to do right by us. The pedalling of corporate interests including sensationalized stories of Black pathology, death and violence, all big money-makers in America, will be highlighted before stories depicting our true selves. There will always be fierce resistance to acknowledging and embracing our humanity.
Ice T holding it down on the Jimmy Fallon Show
With that being said, the way to combat that is to take note and do as Ice T did, reaffirm who we truly our on our own terms and our own dime and do what Hip Hop momentarily forgot to do which is build its own institutions. In talking with Ice T the other day, he said it was important to uplift the culture and give something back. He also noted the importance of constantly hustling and not shying away from the grind. Hence even if this movie is not the main priority for some big wig media power broker, its gonna shine, because we make the moves to make it happen.
To help promote this film we seen Ice leverage his celebrity status to show up on outlets like Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show and Wendy Williams to name a few..
As for the rest of us, change comes when we revolutionize our thinking, readjust our values and take those first steps to shedding the dictates of out of control, consumerist corporate agendas. In other words ‘they’ are gonna stick to their game plan, will we stick to ours?
In supporting this movie we can stick to ‘our’ game plan by passing along the link below which lists the theaters where Art of Rap is showing in your city .http://bit.ly/NDe3XD
You can stick to the game plan by by talking this movie up the way we talk up beefs and petty gossip. Lastly lwe can stick to our game plan by getting back in the habit of digging and seeking out new music and new artists vs waiting for them to show up via our radio or some other commercial outlet.. It used to be a time corporations chased the streets to try and discover what was new and hip. Today we chase the corporations who in turn sell us repackaged goods.. Let’s flip the script on that.. Enjoy the weekend and the Art of Rap
One of the dopest films out or soon to be out at a theater near you is the Something from Nothing the Art of Rap, put together by Ice-T... Yes, there have been a number of documentaries put out over the years that have focused on emceeing, but this one really hits home for a few reasons..
First, the stories are being told by those who do it..This is important, because far too often the nuanced and subtle perspectives by the practitioners are often left out or overshadowed by everyone else when documentaries are made. We get to really see how folks are thinking and feel where they’re coming from. There’s no middle-man, expert, punditry interpretation.. You walk away really understanding how and why Hip Hop and in particular rap is an American art form given to the world..
The second thing, is we got to hear from many of the pioneers and see them execute their craft without the feeling like they were being rushed off or their interviews cut short to make room for artists or big names who are well-known today in 2012.
Common holds it down in the film ‘Art of Rap’
It was good to hear good solid interviews with pioneering and iconic figures who still have it like Grandmaster Caz,Mele-Mel, MC Lyte,Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Nas, Chuck D, Q-Tip and Doug E Fresh to name a few. They were nicely balanced out with folks like Kanye West who got busy in this film, along with artists like Immortal Technique, Eminem, Bun B and Common to name a few..
On a side note the Grandmaster Caz spit the illest rhyme out of everyone in the entire film..I had to get that in , because a couple of my buddies thought Kanye took the cake. A couple thought Eminem came hard while others felt WC made his presence felt.. That’s the good thing about this film.. we’re all gonna come out debating who repped.. So I’m just gonna keep it real with ya since its my blog.. Grandmaster Caz killed it.. case closed!..
It was good seeing Ice T do the interviews because he pulls things out of his peers that many film makers probably couldn’t.. It was good to see him in the role of journalist, fan and participant as he ripped a few flows to remind cats, he still has flavor. It was good to see the camaraderie and mutual respect and admiration which often led humorous exchanges..
The only shortcomings to this movie is it should’ve been longer.. I think 4 or 5 hours would’ve been great.. LOL Seriously Ice will have to make additional parts to this, because as dope as this flick is, there are many angles that weren’t fully covered.. There’s no way to fit everyone and everything into a film like that..especially since Ice allows folks to talk and show off their skillz.. He wasn’t cutting and editing just to fit everyone in..
Other critiques?? Pick a city, any city around the country, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Oakland, Cleveland, Boston.. Pick a city and I guarantee at every showing, there will be someone pointing out that the Art of Rap didn’t include their favorite rapper or the person they perceive to be the sharpest spitter from their part of town..There’s gonna be cats saying there wasn’t enough midwest, not enough South, no Bay Area etc etc.. That’s gonna happen and even with that critique the film is still dope..It might drop down to a 9.5 as opposed to a 10..
There will be folks from different generations who feel like more could’ve been added. Yes there will be a few who say the film should’ve included more pioneers, more cats from the 80s, more cats from the 90s and millennium cats. Some will want more underground, others will want it to be more mainstream.. That’s gonna happen… and even with that, as I noted earlier still this is a Must See film
It was good to see Salt in the Art of Rap
Personally I think Ice could’ve added a few more sistas in the mix.. It was good to see Salt, It was great to see Lyte.. I wanted to see Yo Yo, Medusa, Invincible and Jean Grae.. and while they weren’t in the film, it’s still dope.
The good news is Ice filmed hours upon hours of material and I’m almost certain we’ll see additional parts where our personal favorites are included.. As I said this is not a forced documentary. It flowed really well and had a very authentic feel and is an important, essential addition in the Story of Hip Hop..
Major Props to Ice T.. I fully expect this documentary to be nominated for an Oscar.. It’s that damn good.
Below is the official video for the Art of Rap.. Smooth tha Hustla brings heat..