Hip Hop Songs You Should Know As We Celebrate Black History pt1

KRS-One teacherWith this being Black History Month, I been going through a lot of songs and videos that may give us food for thought, inspire us and reflect what this month should ideally be about…obtaining knowledge of self  and remembering that Black History is World History… It’s also something that occurs everyday, not just limited to the Month of February…

Remember when historian/ scholar Carter G Woodson established the second week in February Negro History Week in 1926,  it was done with the intent of acknowledging the birthday of Fredrick Douglass and providing us with a vehicle to push for Black History to be a foundation to American History…

Negro History Week grew over the years and in 1969 Black students at kent State expanded the week long celebration to a Black History month.. Several years later in 1976, President Gerald Ford acknowledged Black History Month..

Over the years lots of artists have stepped to the plate and delivered timeless songs that uplifted our history… I gathered a few for us to peep and reflect on.. Some of this is a mixture of the past and present.. enjoy..

You Must Learn by KRS-One

This is one of my favorites… it was dropped by KRS during what many considered the Golden Era of Hip Hop.. There were two different versions of this song. One used the break beat Supersporm by Captain Sky, the other  depicted in this video uses the popular break ‘Get Up and Dance‘ from Farther Than Imagination

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVtVJ6Kq-Pk

Acknowledge Your History by the Jungle Brothers

This was always a favorite from the Jungle Brothers.. It’s off the album Forces of Nature.. I wish they had done a video because the song is dope.. Also coming out of Hip Hop’s Golden Era..

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

Gary ByrdWe Wear the Crown by Gary Byrd & Stevie Wonder

This is a classic song that has been written out of history in terms of its importance.. Two things we should note.. First Gary Byrd is more than just a talented musician who has put out several records prior to this one including Every Brother Ain’t a Brother in the early 70s that proceeds the first rap songs, Rappers Delight by Sugar Hill Gang and King Tem III by Fatback Band by several years. Byrd is a radio deejay who harks back to the days when ‘announcers’ routinely spit rhymes in between songs as way to display their vocal flyness..

Byrd when he released this song, teams up with Stevie Wonder in 1983 and does a stellar Black History song.. The pairing represented a break in ‘elders supporting rap/Hip Hop when so many at that time were highly critical and against it.. They saw Hip Hop as an embarassing throwback.. Byrd and Wonder saw things a bit differently..They saw the potential ion Hip Hop and wanted to help lead the way…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI0U92sN-Eo

I Can by Nas

This song speaks for itself.. How can you go wrong with Nas?  He dropped this a song a few years ago and it garnered a few awards and lots of critical acclaim. For many it was a welcome breath of fresh air to see an artist of his stature and popularity step from beef and meaningless chatter and do something for the kids.. The Funky Drummer beat and Nas’ uplifting lyrics will always make this song a classic..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLmRoVMfsD8

Freedom Rap by Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes (of TLC), MC Lyte, Patra, Nefertiti, Da 5 Footaz Salt-N-Pepa, Meshell Ndegeocello

Many people have overlooked or don’t even know this about this song. It was done for a hard to find sound track for 1995 movie Panther..That album had a quite a few songs, but this was a standout in terms of the allstar cast of female emcees and singers who were at the top of the field going for it.. This song will forever be a treasure

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxyxqVDjSzs

Proud to Be Black & Black History by Run DMC

Run Dmc ChristmasI’m going back to back with Run DMC.. This song is off the landmark album Raising Hell and it speaks for itself.. damn near every song off that album was a banger especially at that time.. and this song hit the mark..Rap was still making its way into the mainstream and it was good to see Run DMC do this song in prominent spaces.. during the mid 80s…

The second song, Black History is a rare and hard to find song that was given away for FREE back in like 1984 and proceeds the Raising Hell lp…The Black Cultural Workshop (BCW) put the actual video together for the song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlP3mywBDz4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNdcOZhlgf0

The Truth About Race by Labtekwon

This song is a more recent offering from a prolific Baltimore based emcee who is no joke as a lyricist, scholar and artist..His 18th or 19th full length album  and 35th recording overall is called  Hardcore: Labtekwon and The Righteous Indignation- Rootzilla vs Masta Akbar. Here you’ll find a number of songs that can easily fit within this collection of songs to check for around Black History..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IL-1tWiHB1Y

The Lost Tribe of Shabazz by Lakim Shabazz

Lakim Shabazz - TLTOSLakim Shabazz who hails from the Flavor Unit crew ala Queen Latifah and Mark the 45 King, was always a conscious cat who spoke truth to power. Him coming with Pro Black lyrics was to be expected..Vintage cuts like Black is Back and Pure Righteousness were the order of the day.. What wasn’t expected was when he shot his video for the title song from his second album ‘Lost Tribe of Shabazz‘ in Egypt.. At the time doing a video like this was not cheap.. Homeboy was literally putting his money where his mouth is and letting folks know that he was dead serious about the words he was spitting..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytRUPOpjJT0

Be Black by King Sun

This was a favorite from King Sun who was always coming with heat during the time he dropped this. It was the heart of the Afrocentric Golden Era. Interestingly enough it appears that Sun took a shot at the Native Tongue cats when he disses a group of guys who had on funny ‘gear’ in the video. Not too much was made of it.. But this song got a lot of run when it came out..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlSZ2BPUrnQ

That wraps up this round of songs.. There are lots of others including joints from groups like dead prez, Paris, Poor Righteous Teachers, X-Clan and Queen Mother Rage and many more.. We’ll post up some more videos in a couple of days.. In the meantime reflect and enjoy…

Police Terrorism: Looking at the Common Controversy Beyond His Lyrics

The ‘outrage’ over rap star Common‘s appearance at the White House for a Poetry event is one that all of us should  look at and take a long pause. It’s not so much that the Sean Hannitys and Fox News crowd went reaching for an old standby tactic-Demonize a Black person or some or some sort of cultural expression to get ratings, bring attention or distract from an issue. Thats been done for decades and with each deployment there are scores of willing participants who are eager to engage these clowns in a feeble attempt to go toe for toe…

What gets lost in the sauce is our collective attention to other issues that really impact our lives. As radio host Skyy Brewer from Skyyhook radio reminded us, ‘we stopped talking about Congressman Paul Ryan‘s proposed Draconian budget to go all out on this issue around Common’.

Baltimore artist/activist Labtekwon in a recent Facebook posting chided us for being gullible.He urged us to stop being so quick to drink the Kool Aid of propaganda. He raised the question: ‘Full grown adults are actually idignant over whether a rapper goes to the white house and when a RIGHT WING pundit is against it, then its an issue worthy of discussion?’ Translation: Why are we taking what Sarah palin has to say so seriously?

It might be a bit shortsighted that so many of us engaged this debate on terms favorable to the far right.. We reacted to Sarah Palin. We reacted to Sean Hannity.. We reacted to out of touch police officers.. We continued the troubling tendency of reacting to their words, their definitions and the angles they bring up.

What many of us have NOT done, is use this conversation to connect to larger more insidious dots that impact us all on a daily basis.. It’s easy to have a discussion about rap lyrics.. We’ve done that for the past 30 years and to be honest, that’s gotten old. It’s harder but needed now more than ever, to move that discussion to a point where it unearths the political and social agendas at hand.

For example, the other night one of the cable news channels dragged out a police officer who whined and cried about how Hip Hop was thug music. He asserted that Common was a thug and the whole world is falling apart at the seams because of Hip Hop..It was laughable.

Bottomline is officer, Dave Jones of the Fraternal Order of Police in New Jersey was upset that Common over his 20 year career, did a couple of songs/poems addressing police brutality…songs I should add, that most people if queried would be hard pressed to name…They were ‘Letters to the Law’ and ‘A Song for Assata’.

Ask a high school student or most college students if they heard either song or play them with any sort of regularity and the answer would be ‘No’.  In addition, most never even heard of Assata Shakur . The few that have, know her as the Godmother of the late 2Pac Shakur. Perhaps we need to be arming younger generations about the Black Liberation struggle so it extends beyond the words of a few artists. Perhaps we need to be having more high profile discussions about political prisoners and all the demonic things that were done to those fighting for equality and liberation in the 60s and 70s.

What’s happened around this Common controversy is too many of us fell into the trap explaining to an uninterested audience the virtues of Hip Hop. Too many of us tried to explain Common’s body of work and defend it.. Our collective response should’ve been a big ‘F$%k You to to Dave Jones and other critics of Common’s visit to the White House…

We should’ve responded by telling these folks to come hollar at us when their police brethren are willing to hold accountable the police ‘thugs’ who are rarely punished for their egregious transgressions. We should be up in arms insisting that those officers who went bursting in the home of 7 year old Aiyana Stanely Jones and killed her as they showed off for a reality TV show, be brought to justice. . We should be asking the FOP to tell us what’s being done about officerJoseph Weekly who is accused of shooting  and killing this precious child?

We should’ve been demanding to know what sort of accountability and steps were taken to insure more seven years old like Joshalyn Lawton don’t have guns drawn on them by thuggish officers because they are in the back seat of a car crying during a routine traffic stop..

This tragic incident happened a few years ago in Pittsburgh, PA and believe it or not, the mother Pamela Lawton, was charged with disorderly conduct when she screamed in horror and tried to protect her daughter. Nothing happened to officer Eric Tatusko threatened to shoot the 7 year old if she didnt stop crying.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Officer Dave Jones was beyond hypocritical when he called Common a ‘nitwit’ while ignoring the dimwitted and fatal behavior of his fellow officers. Last I checked Common hasn’t pulled guns on any officers nor anyone else for that matter… and even if he did a song suggesting such actions, so what? Its high time that such critics get over it…It’s not like Common was at the White House performing questionable material. Just like our former Governor Arnold Swarterznegger wasn’t sitting in the Capitol pulling out guns resurrecting his Terminator character.

Incidentally Arnold has killed cops in his movies and been accused of groping women in real life, but of course the FOP was nowhere to be seen when our former Governor was invited to the White House which was just 3 weeks ago..

Many were  quick to address the supposed outrage over Common. However, it was sad to see that so many while defending Common, ignored the cries of police accountability from fellow Hip Hop artists like Paradise Gray of the legendary group X-Clan and Jasiri X of One Hood, an artist/organizer who puts out weekly songs addressing pressing issues impacting the community. Both artists have been on the ground dealing with outlandish case around Jordan Miles.

Jordan Miles is a 18 year old violinist who played for First Lady Michele Obama

All of us should be up in arms over the horrific beating of unarmed Jordan Miles a 17 year old honor student who was invited to play violin for the our First Lady Michelle Obama and other First Ladies of the World. Last year, Miles was beaten to the point of being unrecognized by his own mother by a group of martial arts expert police officers known as the Jump Out Boys.

Miles a shy young man who formed a pact with his friends to achieve ‘As’ in all his classes class a task he’s thus far suceeded in,  was enroute to his grandmother’s house when undercover officers jumped out, didn’t identify themselves, but demanded he hand over his money, drugs and guns.. Jordan who lives in a gang plaqued neighborhood, fearing he was being robbed, ran only to be quickly subduded and viciously beaten.

While his head was being smashed on the ground, Jordan attempted to say the Lord’s Prayer. Officers hearing this, pummeled him harder and ripped out his dred locks..The picture we posted says it all…

The Feds recently declined to persecute the officers and Jordan was told by the Pittsburgh Chief of Police not run from officers in the future. Many feel the decision to not go after the officers on the federal level was to keep police unions at bay come the 2012 election.. Paradise of X-Clan recently gave an impassioned speech about this incident.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJOLz1EYDYE

Where's the outrage from Fraternal Order of Police about the killing of 7 year old Aiyanna Jones?

We all need to be upset about that sort of miscarriage of justice. We need to be upset that we rarely see the Fraternal Order of Police speaking out condemning these sorts of activities amongst their own… There was no condemning or apology for what happened to Jordan Miles, Joshalyn Lawton, Aiyanna Jones, the murder of unarmed Oscar Grant or the recent scandal involving police in San Francisco beating, robbing innocent people and spying on non-profit groups.

The outpouring of support for Jordan has been far and wide throughout the city of Pittsburgh, but virtually ignored by many of us who quickly responded to the criticism launched at Common. That’s a big time failure on our part to not connect those dots.

This discussion goes way beyond some lyrics to a song. Trust me, whatever words Common has rapped, police have heard far worse.  In addition, as public officials they are paid to deal with it..It’s part of the job..Public official get criticized and lambasted everyday. We have sitting lawmakers and radio hosts who said some of the most vile racially charged things about our President ever heard and he seems to be able to deal,  so why are  peace officers being so thin skinned?  Dave Jones had no business being on TV crying about a rapper like Common of all people.

Moving on, here’s two things to consider.. First while it’s great Common got support from bloggers and writers, my question is where were his fellow A-List cohorts?

The police and Far Right are well oiled machines who have PR firms pushing their message.. Where were the Jay-Z‘s, P-Diddys and others Hip Hop moguls who seem to continuously remind us how they have long money?

Ideally it would’ve been great if they got their PR hacks to set up a press conference and addressed the issue as a unit so that it deaded future attacks or at the very least changed the tone of future debates once and for all?

It would've been great to see Diddy and other moguls collectively address the Common controversy in a way that deads future attacks

I only make this suggestion knowing that the far right is still upset that President Obama used Hip Hop and cultural icons skillfully to his victorious advantage in ’08. Their game plan is to marginalize and demonize that potential support in 2012.

By smashing hard on any and all artists who attempt to weigh in in 2012, the far right hope to suceed on two fronts.. One they hope to limit the impact and public interaction between artists and the politicians they support. They want candidaters running away from artists not too them..

Second,  they hope to get potential businesses to reconsider endorsing these artists for fear of right wing attacks because of a song no matter how obscure.

Its for these reasons that  A-List artists from Will I Am on down to Ludacris should’ve been using their firepower and resources to shut down this Common controversy immediately..

We should be looking at this incident and asking where was Common’s label-Interscope Records which is home to an estimated 70% of the rap stars from Black Eyed Peas to 50 Cent?  I been in this business long enough to know and have seen that if label head Jimmy Iovine wants a story killed he could make it happen at least in mainstream outlets.Where were they to kill the negative noise around Common? They have the resources and clout to make that happen.

As for the rest of us, it’s important that we continue staying the course, addressing issues of injustice and not getting sidetracked. In short if we were gonna address the Common controversy at least be sure to remind our respective audience of the day to day unresolved incidents of police brutality and terrorism visiting our communities far too often..

Something to Ponder…

Davey D

Beats for the Revolution-Everybody’s Free (Dedicated to Egypt)

With every movement or revolution there’s a soundtrack and what took place over the past 3 weeks in Tunisia and Egypt is no different. We got word that scores of recording artists on the ground in Egypt captured the historic moment by recording songs. Their goal to inspire those alongside them in the struggle to keep on keeping on…

We decided to do this mixtape to pay tribute not only to the folks in Egypt who inspired and made us proud but also to pay tribute to those who struggled before them and continue to do so as we speak. Among the highlighted tracks are ‘Beautiful Resistance’ by Bay Area artist Mystic. It’s a song dedicated to those who stand strong in turbulent times…

We also have dope cuts from Killer Mike ‘Burn”, Invincible ‘Sledgehammer’, Jasiri X and M1 ‘We Shall Be Free’  and Kev Choice ‘The Struggle’ who stepped up and addressed the ongoing battles many communities have with police brutality..

We wanted to remind folks of the horrors many experienced in past struggles hence we rocked some deep songs from Brother Ali and Baltimore‘s Labtekwon which touch on the issue of slavery

Other artists like Salome from Iran, Clotaire K from Lebanan, Narcy from Arab Summit/ Euphrates from Iraq and Lowkey from UK/ Iraq, Fredwreck from Palestine, Arabian Knightz from Egypt reminded us that Hip Hop is alive and well in the Arab World and front and center in these struggles.

In this mix we captures the sounds of rallies both in Cairo and right here in San Francisco. They along with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Kathleen Clever of the Black Panther Party provided timeless narratives to this mixtape

Lastly we kicked things off with an anthem of sorts from almost 20 years ago.. Rozalla‘s Everybody Free. It was a house music favorite back in the days and her timeless words calling for freedom resonate with many today.. We remixed it up  and heightened the urgency of her message.

Enjoy the mix it comes from the heart… I also dedicate this to my father who found freedom from his own struggles here on earth. May you Rest in Power Dad.

-Davey D-

 

Click HERE to Listen to Breakdown FM Egypt Mix

http://www.mixcrate.com/mix/33574/Beats-for-the-RevolutionDedicated-to-Egypt

you can also access the mix at All day Play FM

http://www.alldayplay.fm/episodes/egypt-free

1.Everybody’s Free (Davey D Freedom Remix)by Rozalla

2.Freedom by Paris, Dead Prez & Public Enemy

3.Freedom by Jurassic 5

4.#jan 25 by Freeway, Narcyst, Omar Offendum, Amir Suilaman & Aiya

5.Not Your Prisoner by Arabian Knightz & Fredwreck

6.The System by Mobb Deep & Sizzla

7.We Shall Be Free by Jasiri X & M1 Of Dead Prez

8.Back Down Mubarak by Master Mimz

9.The Travelers  by Brother Ali

10.Triangular Trade by Labtekwon

11.Beautiful Resistance by Mystic

12.Stereotype Incorporated by Euphrates

13.Ya Saryan by Clotaire K

14.Scream To Let Your Voice Be Heard by Salome

15.Cradle Of Civilization by Lowkey W/ Mai Khalil

16.Bin Laden by Immortal Technique w/ Mos Def and Eminem

17.Burn  by Killer Mike

18.One Eleven (Davey D Egyptian Remix) by J-Dilla

19-The Struggle by Kev Choice

20-Sledgehammer  by Invincible