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‘
It’s always a pleasure and enlightening to sit down and chop it up w/ Atlanta emcee Killer Mike. He’s never at loss for words and he pulls no punches when speaking on political situations. Our recent sit down w/ Mike was no exception.. We talked at length about his new album R.A.P. Music which was produced by EL-P of Def Jux fame. Many would not associate the pair because on the surface they appear to be on opposite sides of the musical spectrum, but in reality they have lots in common.. The album they created is a hard-hitting masterpiece that seriously bumps and lyrically is a breath of fresh air and a much-needed nourishment shot for the dome.
During our interview we started off talking about the album’s lead single ‘Reagan’. This is an excellent scathing critique of one of the worst presidents this country ever produced who in recent years has seen millions of dollars poured into campaigns to sanitize his image. Killer Mike accurately reminds us that Reagan was a criminal who answered to a powerful cartel who ultimately controlled him. Mike goes in on both the song and interview about Reagan.
He also pulls no punches on other Presidents including Barack Obama who he famously stood up for and supported in 2008. In fact during the 2008 Ozone Awards, Killer Mike sitting on a panel pushed his rap colleagues to clean themselves up, put on their Sunday best and not allow any industry rap BS be the downfall of than candidate Obama.
In our interview, Killer Mike explains that his position on Obama didn’t ‘evolve’, it was part and parcel of what one should do when you elect someone to office. He noted that all politicians need to be pushed and held accountable and his responsibility as someone who is active in voting and helping get folks in office is to speak up, be loud and make sure they understand there will be political consequence fr not doing right by the folks who support him/her. So, yes he supported Obama. In 08 he was the best man for the job, but the nature of the Presidency is to do the bidding of those who push him the hardest, and hence Mike brings heat in challenging Obama and anyone who is in office.
In our interview Killer Mike lays out what he says should be top priorities for any President seeking his vote as well as many within the Black Community. He details a job program in which folks coming into the community must partner with residents. He also talks about expunging the record of those who were incarcerated and returning home. Mike talks about the importance of providing programs and opportunities so one doesn’t return to prison which ultimately impacts the larger community.
During our conversation we talked about standout songs like the melodic ‘Anywhere But Here‘, where Mike gives us a thoughtful and compelling view of New York City and Atlanta. In the first part of the song, he talks about Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Stop and Frisk and the ghost of Sean Bell and others who are victims to police terrorism. He talks about the importance holding police accountable via the Mayor and other politicians who control them. He explained that anyone who allows the police to be out of control don’t politically punish the Mayor for allowing this to happen, has missed the mark in a big way..
New York City is contrasted w/ Killer Mike’s hometown of Atlanta which he describes as a Black male heaven because of its abundance of opportunity, Black office holders and beautiful women. In the song Mike notes how in a city of such abundance, Black blood is still being spilled, with young brothers playing the role of villan vs the good guy who many feel never win.
It’s a powerful cut and during our interview Mike expands upon the political and social dynamics of Atlanta and its relationship to the rest of Georgia. He noted that one day he may actually run for office because he feels that strong about his city and wants to see it improve.
Just is just a short summary and doesn’t do justice to Killer Mike’s passion and love for his community and this music we call Hip Hop.. We divide this interview up in two parts..
Click links below to listen to our interview w/ Killer Mike
I love when Hip Hop steps up and flips classic songs to fit a modern-day scenario.. In this case its Stop and Frisk… props to Pittsburgh artist Jasiri X and comedian/activist Elon James White for this joint called 10 Frisk Commandments.. It’s a play on Biggie’s infamous cut Ten Crack Commandments..
On another tip..Here’s a couple of other songs addressing the issue of police violence and how and why we should stand up against it.. The first is a video to the song Do We Need to Start a Riot by Jasiri X It was filmed in several cities including LA where Henry Rollings one of the LA 4 from the 1992 Rodney King rebellions showed up and gave a few words.