On the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq War We Recall key Anti-War Hip Hop Songs

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daveyd-raider2With the 10th anniversary of the War on Iraq upon us.. I wanted to take a look abck at antiwar songs.. Below is an article penned a few years ago for the San Jose Mercury News

Give Hip Hop Credit for Anti-War songs

by Davey D

The other night ABC News did a special report on the growing popularity of anti-war protest songs. The report focused on how all these musicians were now coming out and providing a sound track to the growing discontent many of us are having with the war in Iraq. It talked about how people are more accepting of such songs and how major record labels were loosening up in the aftermath of the Dixie Chicks who got lambasted and later boycotted for speaking out against George Bush and his policies in 2003.

The report also brought to light the impact anti-war songs had on fueling the Anti-war movement against Vietnam in the late 60s and the question was raised as to what sort of impact todays rash of songs would have.

I cant remember all the singers they profiled, but I did recall seeing country singer Merle Haggard, Rock-N-Roll icon Bruce Springstein and pop sensation Pink. What surprised me was not seeing any mention of Hip Hop especially with the exception of KRS-One, since it was artists in the rap community that up to date have released more anti-war songs and were the first to unabashedly do so right after 9-11.

The late June Jordan

The late June Jordan

If we take a short walk down memory lane, folks may recall that the day after 9-11 Bay Area Hip Hop activists from organizations like Lets Get Free, The Ella Baker Center and Minds Eye Collective put together a rally that was held in Snow Park in Oakland. Close to 500 people attended this event which focused on the loss of human life and questioned the foreign policy missteps of the Bush administration. It was at this rally that many of us heard our last poem from the late June Jordan.

We also heard an incredible song from Michael Franti & Spearhead calling for healing and peace. A couple of months later, Franti appeared on Conan O’Brian and performed the anti-war song Bomb the World to Pieces only to find that his sentiments angered producers who threatened to censor the song when the show aired. Community outrage lead to OBrian’s people eventually showing the performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA8p_BV7uD8

Early on we heard anti-war songs from acts like the Beastie Boys (World Gone Mad), Nas (Rule), Wu-Tang Affiliates Known Associates (World So Cold), Talib Kweli (the Proud), J-Live (Satisfied) and Mr Lif (home of the Brave). All in all there are more than 150 anti-war songs that have been recorded by Hip Hop artists.

Paris

Paris

The song that really made heads turn was by Bay Area artist Paris who came out of retirement and released a 6 minute missive called What Would You Do? that went into great detail about The Caryle Group, Bush’s relationship to the Bin Laden family and the hawkish action plans of the Neo-cons serving in Bushs cabinet. Paris gave the song away for free and then followed it up with an entire antiwar album called Sonic Jihad which went on to sell over 200 thousand units. Another great anti-war cut off that album was ‘Sheep to Slaughter‘.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcxkw6ChKE0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaCPUIfr8PY

Another stand out effort came from San Francisco based Freedom Fighter records who released the first anti-war compilation featuring Bay Area artists called War Times Report From the Opposition. A year later LA based Hard Knock Records followed up with a critically acclaimed anti-war compilation called What About Us. It featured stellar songs like US History By Flipsyde

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQi4BTaYLj0

The most visible anti-war effort to date came from former San Jose resident Fredwreck who has produced tracks from everyone ranging from Eminem to Snoop Dogg and Ice Cubeto name a few. Using the name STOP Movement he gathered up a number of popular artists including Mobb Deep, WC of the Westside Connection, Daz of the Dogg Pound, RBX, Defari, Soopafly, Cypress Hill, Mack 10, KRS-One and Dilated Peoples just to name a few and released two anti-war songs called Down With Us and Dear Mr. President.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKC9-9BQO5Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiBI9TJ_iQs

Fredwreck

Fredwreck

Fredwreck like Paris gave away the songs for free and even held a press conference only to find local commercial stations would not touch the record in spite of the big name artists he had assembled. In fact sources inside one popular station in LA, KKBT, noted that their deejays were instructed not to play those songs because they were too controversial. Whats even more ironic was Fred was supposed to be profiled in the ABC story. He was flown to NY but not shown in the report that I saw.

The other irony was after ABC aired the report one of the anchors decided to comment and naively noted that she never heard any of the songs from the artists they profiled on the radio therefore they must not be hits. We could do an entire column on what goes on behind the scenes and what it really takes to get records on the commercial airwaves, but suffice to say if what happened to Fredwreck is any indication of how key power brokers at radio get down, then of course we would not hear any of these songs on radio. However, it does not mean those songs or those artists are not popular or that people are not appreciative of their songs.

A couple of other songs that got overlooked was Snoop Dogg‘s Sister and Brothers and Dilated People’s War and Channel Live‘s Mr President.¬† There is also a powerful more recently made song from Lowkey and Immortal Technique called Voice of the Voiceless

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZO0FXMFgRY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atovUH3dCgA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-mh-oAlr9c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w6rK4OkUhs

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Memorial Day Holiday Mix: the Military & The Monetary-We Gotta Have Peace!

Hard Knock Radio 94.1 FM: In honor of Memorial Day we dropped a nice Memorial Day Mix that features everyone from Paris to Digital Underground to Goapele to Gil Scott-Heron to Michael Franti to Dilated Peoples and Saul Williams just to name a few.. Click the link below to listen..

As you listen, keep in mind the importance of us taking all the steps we can on a diplomatic bases to find solutions to conflict.. We must find ways to stop the Military Industrial Conflict where we have scores of multi- national corporations that profit insanely off of war and potential conflict…

On another note.. as we reflect on Memorial day, Folks may wanna reflect on its ‘lost origins’..Here’s an excerpt from Yale History professor David W. Blight ..You can peep the entire article at http://www.davidwblight.com/memorial.htm

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders’ race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy’s horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VySYI7dALug

5 Videos to Make Your Day: Michael Franti, Jessica Celious, Def Jeff, The Poetess, Jasiri X

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Hey World (Don’t Give Up Version) music video from the Bay Area’s Michael Franti from his new album ALL REBEL ROCKERS! The words and imagery are very moving... Gotta wonder why we don’t hear songs like this too much on our urban outlets especially since its a huge hit overseas.

This is one of my favorite artists-Jessica Celious out of Los Angeles. She’s a a dope soul artist who put out a good album called Melodies of Life. She has a lot of great songs on that joint and finally a nice video to go along with one of the album’s songs Love Crimes.. We need to pay attention to this sista and her work..

Jasiri X return with a dope video that tells the story of the connection between Afghanistan and war, leading to her intimate yet volatile relationship with the United States. Afghanistan (HerStory) is produced by Kai Roberts and directed by Paradise the Arkitech of X-Clan.

This is a classic joint from my homegirl the Poetess.. It was one of the first records that addressed the issue of domestic violence.. It features Poetess, Def Jam, Almighty from Body of Soul and Kool G Rap.. dope record.. Sorry the video is disabled.. its typical of these backward record companies.. One day they’ll get it.. Thats why it only has 3000 views

Since we rocked Love’s Hurt which was produced by Def Jeff, I figured lemme toss in one more video.. See if y’all recall this joint from back in the days¬† called ‘Black to the Future

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Def Jeff