Separating the Darkness So That We May See the Light: Guidance for the Hip Hop Community in 2013…

tonymuhammedchitown-225The marked end of The Mayan Calendar on December 21st, 2012 as noted in the KRS-One song Aztechnical does not mean that life on planet Earth itself is going to end any time soon due to cataclysmic events. But rather, just as many Biblical Prophecies, Qur’anic Prophecies, the pyramid prophecies of Ancient Egypt (Kemet), the end of The Age of Pisces/beginning of the Age of Aquarius and other prophetic histories that are “written in advanced,” the end of The Mayan Calendar points to, above all else, the end of an old state of being and the steady movement towards a new age of spiritual and intellectual Awakening; into the very nature and reality of Self.

This is the consciousness and manifestation of God in the person of human being, which is also known as “The Hereafter.” This is not talking about a state of consciousness that we experience after we physically die, but an actual physical condition experienced here on Earth while we are still living.  Furthermore, “The Hereafter” is a state of being in which we are actively working to manifest The Divine in any way imaginable, while continuously removing obstructions that impede our progress from achieving this Ultimate Goal.  As Edgar Cayce, a legend within the New Thought Movement, said “For you grow to heaven, you don’t go to heaven. It is within thine own conscience that ye grow there …”

Hip Hop, as a culture and as a community, must move in this direction of Divine Order if it stands a chance to survive. Movement towards The Divine, in this sense, is not a partial occurrence, as it has been experienced in the Movement in the past (particularly in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s). Rather, The Time we are living in warrants a holistic change, incorporating all aspects of living – from the way that we think, perform, eat and even rest.

In essence, the root of making all things new in our way of life derives from what The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has referred to as The Most Powerful Creative Force which is Love, The Building Blocks that gave shape and form to the very Universe itself.  We along with everything in Creation itself exist because of Unconditional Love, which is Biblically synonymous with The Creator of The Heavens and The Earth Himself.

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8).

Tony Muhammad and Africa BambaataaIt is because of Unconditional Love for the people, that one of the most influential Founding Fathers of Hip Hop culture, Afrika Bambaataa, was able to end gang violence in The South Bronx in the early 1970s.  It was gang violence that was leading to heightened levels of death among the youth.  In a gradual process, after entering into Divine Knowledge that he had learned from different communities at the time, including The Nation of Islam, The Nation of Gods and Earth and The Moorish Science Temple.  He utilized that knowledge to separate the darkness (or condition of gross ignorance) that lurked in his own mind and discovered the Divine Light that was buried within him the whole time of his own existence.  From there, he summoned the Divine Forces within himself and all of the Forces outside of himself.  They manifested themselves in the form of the gang members in the community, which he considered to be his family.  He called for peace, and established it under the banner of the first Hip Hop activist organization called Universal Zulu Nation.

But just in the very nature of Love being a creative force he also summoned all of the Divine Expressions or Elements in the environment that also lurked in the dark (DJing, Emceeing, Breaking, Graffiti) and gave them aim, purpose, shape and form into the Universal Cultural Expression known as Hip Hop.  Afrika Bambaataa himself says in an interview with, which was featured on

afrika-Bambaataa-Gang“It is Afrika Bambaataa to whom named and called each entity of BBoys/BGirls/DJaying/MCs/Aerosol Writing and adding The Most important Knowledge as the main Element of Hip Hop Culture and Brother KRS One helped to add more, with a few other as Plus Elements to the main Key elements of Hip Hop Culture. No one else never used or thought of naming each entity of the Culture an Element or to say that this Movement that we all are doing is called Hip Hop Culture or to recognize it as a World Movement. The Birth of this movement is The Bronx, New York City, New York Republic, but Rap is as Ancient as The creation of Humans itself.”

As noted by Afrika Bambaataa himself, this Divine Process falls in line with the great tradition of Motion of The Ancients themselves.  It goes as far back as The Great River Valley Civilizations of Kemet, Arabia, Sumeria and China in which the richness of the environment was extracted from (cultivated), given form, given aim and given purpose.   And even long before that, it is in line with the actual Self-Creation of The Creator Himself, separating Triple Darkness from Light, and giving Himself and the Universe form using the very rich aquatic material found in the Triple Darkness itself.  This Divine process mentioned in a coded way in both Bible and Holy Qur’an:

“He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters At the boundary of light and darkness.” (Job 26:10)

“Praise be to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, and made darkness and light. Yet those who disbelieve set up equals to their Lord.  He it is Who created you from clay, then He decreed a term. And there is a term named with Him; still you doubt.” (Holy Qur’an 6:1 – 2)

Just as it was in these Noble Divine Beginnings, so it can be with Hip Hop once again.  The culture overall has fallen in a state of spiritual darkness and has stayed there for well over a decade.  It’s most illuminating voices have been kept buried, hence “Underground.” But now, it just takes one with unconditional love within an organization, a town or a city to have the courage to unbury these luminaries, bring them together and put their gifts and talents to use for what they are Divinely intended to fulfill – UPLIFT HUMAN BEINGS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES TO THEIR GREATEST POTENTIAL!  ARE YOU THE ONE THAT CAN FULFILL THIS?

Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 10 years and is currently involved in The MIA (Music Is Alive) Campaign for the development of the National Hip Hop Day of Service.  Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference.  He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Rasul Hakim Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.

original article:

Does The Music Industry Need A Bail Out Plan?

Trials of a Hip Hop Educator:
Accepting Responsibility to Build a New Music Community
Does The Music Industry Need A Bail Out Plan? – Part II

By Tony Muhammad

tonymuhammedchitown-225In the midst of Congress attempting to pass legislation specifically to recoup $165 million in bonuses that has scandalously gone to AIG executives, the House Judiciary Committee is seeking to pass H.R. 848, the Performance Rights Act. Under this law radio stations would be required to pay royalties to artists for the music they air. According to NAB Radio Board Chairman Steve Newberry, the current economic downturn has already forced radio stations nation-wide to layoff a considerable amount of employees and reduce wages by 5 to 10 percent. He warned in his testimony to the House that if the bill is passed, it will put a whole industry “at risk.” The radio industry currently employs nearly 106,000 people but yet is on the verge of bankruptcy, reporting billions of dollars in losses every year. Newberry adds that if the bill is passed it would force many radio stations to switch to more of a “talk show” format and make them even less diverse in their play lists. Currently radio stations throughout the country, especially ones that are oriented towards “urban” and “pop” music genres are criticized for almost strictly playing from top 25 Billboard chart playlists consistently and monotonously hour to hour. Under current circumstances, local artists receive very little to no play on local stations. The passing of H.R. 848 would most certainly make matters worse.

Most interestingly and most critically, Newberry said in his testimony that “At its heart, this bill attempts to create a conflict between artists and radio stations where no conflict exists. In reality, local radio has been supporting the music industry for decades.” He continued by saying that it “boggles” his mind that “a bill that is supposed to be about benefiting artists, takes 50 percent of the performance fee and puts it into the pockets of the big four record labels, most of which are not even American companies.” These four companies are Warner Music Group, EMI, Sony and Universal Music Group.

He argues that in the end “the record labels actually walk away with more money under this bill than do the featured artists.” “The real problem, which this bill does not address,” according to Newberry, “is between the artists and these mega-record labels. Artists, often find themselves in such difficult financial straights because of the one-sided, unfair contracts they signed with their record label. If these artists had fair contracts with their labels that included fair royalty clauses, they would have benefited from the promotional value of free radio airplay that they should have enjoyed.”

After so many years (especially in the past 10) of the radio industry contributing to the problem of musical monotony in expression and form and moral degradation in the content of not just the music, but on the part of many of its “urban” on-air commentators, why is it expressing all of a sudden such a strong concern for the artists that have received the short end of the stick in the whole process? The answer is because now a threat on its very survival is being made not simply by Congress, but by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that has pushed the idea of a “need” of such a bill on behalf of the four major record labels.

Truly, the old system is destroying itself from within. These major record labels are collapsing just like the radio industry is; also reporting billions of dollars in losses every year. At this point they seek to “squeeze blood out of a turnip” in any way that they can, wherever they can find it, even if it comes at the expense of hurting relationships with websites that could aid in promoting their music and even its historic prized relationship with the radio industry. For many years the radio industry has benefited from underhanded payola (“pay for play”) deals with the recording industry. Payola deals in other words are bribes that are disguised in the form of (for example) “consulting fees” or “record pools” with radio DJs or sponsorship for the wrapping of radio station vans in exchange for the frequent playing of particular artists’ music.

Between 2005 and 2006 New York State Attorney General at the time Eliot Spitzer prosecuted payola-related crimes in his jurisdiction. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group each settled out of court with Spitzer and agreed to pay $10 million, $5 million, and $12 million respectively to New York State charitable causes that work in the name of music education and appreciation programs. EMI is still under investigation for such activities. Now, if this was the case just within New York State, imagine all other places where similar activities have taken place and no investigation has ever been conducted. When pop and urban radio sounds almost the same no matter where you travel in the country, contain the same music playlists and in many cases have the same over-consumerist unintelligent expression it means that everywhere someone has been strategically sent behind the scenes to cash in on the peoples’ ignorance.

As I emphasized in PART ONE, many at times the music by-itself is not simply the product for sale; but much more so the jewelry, the apparel and the liquor emphasized in the song lyrics. Do not be surprised if the next stage of commercial-music survival will involve an adapting to brief radio announcements regarding the corporations that are sponsoring the artists showcased. It would sound something like … “And now this artist is brought to you by ….” Don’t think it can’t happen because we are increasingly and rapidly moving towards very desperate economic times. For many of us, especially in the music industry, those times are already here and they are about to get worse. Think about it! Very few artists nowadays make a substantial income on just the music alone. The most successful ones, by and large, depend on endorsement deals in order to live “lush.”

However, with the economy the way that it is, new up-coming artists and all current lime light artists that bind themselves like slaves to corporations (including the major record labels themselves) will fall just as the economy that they are so dependant on will continue to fall. In truth, the new model for artists and generally Hip Hoppers of today and of the future is (as I was discussing with artist NY Oil very recently on a phone conversation) to connect themselves with a cause – just as Wise Intelligent mentors youth in educational and music recreational programs through Intelligent Kidz and MEEN in New Jersey and Philadelphia, PA; just as the art of breaking is preserved through the efforts of Rokafella and Kwikstep of Full Circle Productions as they continuously instruct talented New York City at-risk youth to strive to reach their potential not just in the area of dance but in all aspects of life; just as Jasiri X works diligently towards establishing community justice through One Hood in Pittsburgh, PA; just as Hip Hop journalist and activist Davey D continues to expose the harsh socio-political obstacles we are all faced with byway of his own news website; just as community organizer Adisa Banjoko is uprooting youth into excellence through The Hip Hop Chess Federation in the California Bay Area –

Locally we all must play our part while having a national and a global vision of unity as to what we want our future to be. As conscientious artists and Hip Hoppers in general increasingly introduce cultural arts and literacy programs in the schools, the community centers and even the juvenile detention halls, they will most certainly cause an effect in the manner the youth perceive both the world and themselves. They will begin to gravitate towards what’s real and beneficial and step by step abandon what’s artificial and detrimental to themselves and others. By putting in the necessary community-oriented work, conscientious artists and their music will naturally build a following and guarantee longevity in the support of their craft. Besides the potential world-wide success that comes with proper Internet promotion byway of ever-growing social networking outlets, the development and maintenance of local relationships is key towards establishing local success. This would entail, as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan noted nearly 30 years ago at the 4th Annual Jack-The Rapper Conference in Atlanta, GA, the development of alternative music distribution centers in the community (including religious institutions) that support positive expression through music. Dependence on major music stores such as Specs and FYE is fruitless since they are also on the verge of financial collapse and do not serve to promote local and conscientious music much anyway.

By working together we can develop a new model for how a music industry should run; one that would mutually benefit communities and artists. At which point radio stations will have no other choice but to take notice and move the direction community would be moving. This is possible if we desire it to be. We must begin qualifying ourselves to be able to bring it into existence.

More to come next time through Allah’s (God’s) permission!

Tony Muhammad teaches American, African American and African History at an inner-city high school in Miami and is currently involved in efforts to reform The African American Voices Curriculum for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference (2004 – 2008).

An Open Letter to the NY Daily News About KRS-One

tony muhammed Dear George Rush, Joanna Molloy, The New York Daily News and all other parties involved,

My name is Tony Muhammad, President and founder of Urban America Enterprises, Inc. and publisher of Urban America Newspaper, the first ever urban community newspaper, based in South Florida. I am responding to the inflammatory commentary made about one of the most respected teachers and leaders in Hip-Hop, KRS-ONE. The commentary appeared very recently in The New York Daily News in an article entitled KRS-One, decency zero. The article itself pertained to statements made by KRS-ONE at a recent panel lecture concerning the Hip-Hop community’s response to the 9-11 terror attacks. After careful analysis of both the article published in The New York Daily News and KRS-ONE’s response, which is currently being circulated on several sites on the internet, I can very much say that your brand of journalism is not only irresponsible, but it is “choppy” and insulting both to KRS-ONE and the Hip-Hop community. According to your biography, Mr. Rush, you have a Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and have been published in various magazines as well as publishing a book yourself. Tell me, how this can be true? As an experienced educator I can safely say that I have seen greater detail in 3rd grade level essays about “favorite things to do” than in your “high status” New York Daily News article about what KRS-ONE supposedly said.

His statements, I admit, would be considered “controversial” to people such as yourselves, considering your backgrounds. However, just because you did not fully understand what he said, does that give you a right to twist his words around according to your own paranoid view of reality (a syndrome from which a large percentage of Americans today suffer from thanks to the Bush Administration’s terror alert campaigns)?

If you considered KRS-ONE’s statements so shocking or feel that you may have misinterpreted something he said, why did you not take the opportunity to ask a question to receive more clarity? Even if you did not have the opportunity to ask questions, perhaps you would have done better justice by printing more fully what the man actually said. To automatically and “officially” declare “his solidarity with Al Qaeda,” the group linked with the murder of over two thousand people is repulsively sick. You are speaking of a man who has organized with his Temple of Hiphop annual days of mourning to the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks. Not only this, since 1987, I have religiously heard the man’s music, which has frequently contained lyrics emphasizing “world peace.” KRS-ONE’s statement about how “Hiphoppas” (not merely African-Americans as you put it) cheered and said “justice” when they saw the World Trade Center being attacked is indeed scary but it is very much a real view that much of today’s youth hold. Trust me. It is no coincidence that soon after this horrible act was broadcasted on television, many of my own students at the time were theorizing that the Bush Administration was responsible (Not that I believe or disbelieve this myself, but, in effect, posing the question as to why they would automatically think this way).

Why do you believe there was so much support for Jadakiss’ controversial song Why? (this song itself includes a question pertaining to why Bush blew up the towers – a song aired uncensored and highly requested on New York FM radio). Many of our inner-city youth may not know how to express themselves fully on such topics as the 9-11 terror attacks, largely due to their own lack of study. Yet and still, they are harassed enough by police to identify a common threat. Yet and still, they are annoyingly tested like genie pigs in the public schools enough to identify a common threat. This is not to mention that anger on the part of the poor world wide has built up immensely thanks to the World Trade Organization. In America we are constantly losing jobs which are being transported overseas. The result? The decrease of legal inner-city economies has led to the rise of illegal economies, which many youths participate in. The high neglect of such communities in America has left them in conditions similar to those of 3rd World Countries. In Third World Countries, as I am sure you are aware, youth are employed in factories owned by the same companies that left the inner-cities of America, where they produced products such as Nike shoes; laboring for, in some cases, two cents a day. The Hip-Hop youth of America, in turn, purchase such products twenty to thirty times more than what they are actually worth. This is partially why KRS-ONE identifies such corporate entities as “oppressors” – as you are so quick to mention.

Do you not understand now why such anger would exist in the hearts and minds of the youth? Perhaps you need to live the experience of a youth that embraces Hip-Hop culture to fully understand what I am saying. Especially ask those who grew up embracing Hip-Hop culture during the crack filled 80s what their views regarding the government were (and most likely still are). It has only been recently that we have been targeted by more “liberal” factions of U.S. politics to, for the first time, vote in a presidential election just as the Kennedy Administration targeted highly neglected African-Americans to vote for the first time (in a long time) in the 1960s. Your slanderous and abominable statements about KRS-ONE sharply resemble the way the media has historically repeatedly lashed out against African-American leaders, such as Malcolm X and countless others, who have spoken on what have been considered unexplored realities to white America.

As a note, I am certain that the anger among the Hip-Hop youth is destined to get worse once they realize fully how they are being targeted to be sent and slaughtered in a war that most do not agree with. Just take a look at where the armed forces is advertising: on BET during Rap City, in The Source and XXL Magazines; presenting the armed forces as being a party-filled experience where all the guys are rich and all drive wrapped Hummers (you know, the kind that recruiters drive up to inner-city schools in with the intent to attract attention). I don’t see such targeting towards white non-Hip-Hop youth on any form of television programming or print media. If you are to expose any scandals (or how your column puts it “gossip”) why don’t you investigate things along the lines of this matter? I am sure the experience will be like opening a Pandora’s box.

In respects to the mention of this country “must commit suicide if the world is to be a better place,” KRS-ONE was in a philosophical sense saying that the negative or “corrupt” characteristics of the United States, both in its foreign and domestic policies, must end. Taking chopped up “tidbits” of what KRS-ONE had to say and twisting them to make it seem as if he is the epitome of evil have me question your motives which may be regarded as “evil” in and of themselves. You alluding that KRS-ONE is opposed to voting is flawed. At his concerts he emphasizes the familiar phrase “Voting is the least you can do” to show and prove the type of power the Hip-Hop community has. You quoting him in saying “Voting in a corrupt society adds more corruption” must obviously be expressed in a totally wrong context.

One final note, just because KRS-ONE is not currently signed to what would be regarded a “major record label,” it absolutely does not mean that his music career is in a “downward-spiraling” motion as you put it. In fact, he has expressed much joy in being free from any corporate entities pinning him down to a recording contract. Anywhere in this country, from what I have experienced and know, he still packs concerts – mainly filled with Hip-Hop youth who are eager to know the truth as he expresses it. His career as a leader and teacher to the Hip-Hop nation is not over. It has just begun. It is not his career that is “bent on self-destruction,” as you put it, but our very lives as Americans if we do not take the time to listen to others with alternative perspectives of reality who seek nothing less than for humanity to be steered on the right path. In fact, for all readers on the internet who have the opportunity to read this and maintain an “open mind” may they “KEEP RIGHT!” I hope that you take this message as serious as many politicians have taken the Hip-Hop community serious in this up-coming election.

If you seek clarification on any of the matters presented above, you may contact me at 305-472-2566 or via e-mail at Trust me. I have much more on my mind to express on this matter and I can share it with you if you so request it. I pray that this message reaches you in the best of health, both physically and mentally to inspire drastic change in your way of thinking. I urge you to repair the damage by publicly apologizing to KRS-ONE and the Hip-Hop community.

Tony Muhammad
Urban America Enterprises, Inc.