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    Thread: Gangsterism

    1. #1
      Nesayem is offline Afrika Is In You

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      We Still Wear the Mask-(Gangsterism Within Hip Hop)
      We Still Wear The Mask
      By Dr.William Jelani Cobb

      We could have known that it would come to this way back in 1896. That
      was the year that Paul Lawrence Dunbar dropped a jewel for the ages,
      telling the world that "we wear the mask that grins and lies." The
      poet's point was that beneath the camouflage of subservient smiles,
      black folks of the Jim Crow era were hiding a powder keg of other
      emotions, waiting patiently for the chance to detonate. The thing is,
      Dunbar never got the chance to spit bars with 50 Cent or throw in a
      guest collabo on a Mobb Deep album. If he had, then he would've known
      that grins and lies were only half the story.

      These days, camouflage is the new black. Glance at hip hop for less
      than a second and it becomes clear that the music operates on a single
      hope: that if the world mistakes kindness for weakness it can also be
      led to confuse meanness with strength. That principle explains why
      there is a permanent reverence for the thug within the music; it is
      why there is a murderer's grit and a jailhouse tat peering back at you
      from the cover of damn near any CD you picked up in the last five
      years. But what hip hop can't tell you, the secret that it would just
      as soon take to its deathbed is that it this urban bravado is a guise,
      a mask, a head-fake to shake the reality of fear and powerlessness in
      America. Hip hop will never admit that our assorted thugs and gangstas
      are not the unbowed symbol of resistance to marginalization, but the
      most complacent and passive products of it.

      We wear the mask that scowls and lies.

      You could see which way the wind was blowing way in the early 90s when
      Dr. Dre was being ripped off by white Ruthless Records CEO Jerry
      Heller, and nonetheless got his street cred up by punching and kicking
      Dee Barnes, a black woman journalist, down a flight of stairs. In this
      light, hip hop's obsessive misogyny makes a whole lot more sense. It
      is literally the logic of domestic violence. A man is abused by a
      larger society, but there are consequences to striking back at the
      source of his problems. So he transfers his anger to an acceptable
      outlet – the women and children in his own household, and by
      extension, all the black people who constitute his own community.

      Nothing better illustrates that point than the recent Oprah Debacle.
      Prior to last month, if you'd heard that a group of rappers had teamed
      up to attack a billionaire media mogul you would think that hip hop
      had finally produced a moment of collective pride on par with the
      black power fists of the 1968 Olympics. But nay, just more blackface.

      In the past two months, artists as diverse as Ludacris, 50 Cent and
      Ice Cube have attacked Oprah Winfrey for her alleged disdain for hip
      hop. It's is a sad but entirely predictable irony that the one
      instance in which hip hop's reigning alpha males summon the testicular
      fortitude to challenge someone more powerful and wealthy than they
      are, they choose to go after a black woman.

      The whole set up was an echo of some bad history. Two centuries ago,
      professional boxing got its start in America with white slaveholders
      who pitted their largest slaves against those from competing
      plantations. Tom Molineaux. First black heavyweight champion came up
      through the ranks breaking the bones of other slaves and making white
      men rich. After he'd broken enough of them, he was given his freedom.
      The underlying ethic was clear: an attack on the system that has made
      a slave of you will cost you your life, but an attack on another black
      person might just be the road to emancipation.

      The basis for this latest bout of black-on-black pugilism was Oprah's
      purported stiff-arming of Ludacris during an appearance on her show
      with the cast of the film Crash. Ludacris later complained that the
      host had made an issue of lyrics she saw as misogynistic. Cube jumped
      into the act whining that Oprah has had all manner of racist flotsam
      on her show but has never invited him to appear – proof, in his mind,
      that she has an irrational contempt for hip hop. Then 50 threw in his
      two cents with a claim that Oprah's criticism of hip hop was an
      attempt to win points with her largely white, middle class audience.
      All told, she was charged her with that most heinous of hip hop's
      felonies: hateration.

      But before we press charges, isn't 50 the same character who openly
      expressed his love for GW Bush as a fellow "gangsta" and demanded that
      the black community stop criticizing how he handled Hurricane Katrina?
      Compare that to multiple millions that Oprah has disseminated to our
      communities (including building homes for the Katrina families,
      financing HIV prevention in South Africa and that $5 million she
      dropped on Morehouse College alone) and the idea of an ex-crack dealer
      challenging her commitment to black folk becomes even more surreal.

      In spite of – or, actually, as a result of -- his impeccable gangsta
      credentials, 50 basically curtsied before a President who stayed on
      vacation for three days while black bodies floated down the New
      Orleans streets. No wonder it took a middle-class preppie with an
      African name and no criminal record to man-up and tell the whole world
      that "George Bush don't care about black folks." No wonder David
      Banner – a rapper who is just a few credits short of a Master's Degree
      in social work -- spearheaded hip hop's Katrina relief concerts, not
      any of his thug counterparts who are eternally shouting out the hoods
      they allegedly love.

      The 50 Cent, whose music is a panoramic vision on black-on-black
      homicide, and who went after crosstown rival Ja Rule with the
      vengeance of a dictator killing off a hated ethnic minority did
      everything but tap dance when Reebok told him to dismantle his porn
      production company or lose his lucrative sneaker endorsement deal.

      But why single out 50? Hip hop at-large was conspicuously silent when
      Bush press secretary Tony Snow (a rapper's alias if ever there was
      one) assaulted hip hop in terms way more inflammatory than Oprah's
      mild request:

      "Take a look at the idiotic culture of hip-hop and whaddya have? You
      have people glorifying failure. You have a bunch of gold-toothed hot
      dogs become millionaires by running around and telling everybody else
      that they oughtta be miserable failures and if they're really lucky
      maybe they can get gunned down in a diner sometime, like Eminem's old
      running mate."

      (We're still awaiting an outraged response from the thug community for
      that one.) Rush Limbaugh has blamed hip hop for everything short of
      the Avian flu but I can't recall a single hip hop artist who has gone
      after him lyrically, publicly or physically. Are we seeing a theme

      It's worth noting that Ludacris did not devote as much energy to Bill
      O'Reilly -- who attacked his music on his show regularly and caused
      him to lose a multi-million dollar Pepsi endorsement – as he did to
      criticizing Oprah who simply stated that she was tired of hip hop's
      misogyny. Luda was content to diss O'Reilly on his next record and go
      about his business. Anyone who heard the interview that Oprah gave on
      Power 105.1 in New York knew she was speaking for a whole generation
      of hip hop heads when she said that she loved the music, but she
      wanted the artists to exercise some responsibility. But this response
      is not really about Oprah, or ultimately about hip hop, either. It is
      about black men once again choosing a black woman as the safest target
      for their aggression and even one with a billion dollars is still fair

      Of all their claims, the charge that Oprah sold out to win points with
      her white audience is the most tragically laughable. The truth is that
      her audience's white middle-class kids exert waaay more influence over
      50 and Cube than their parents do over Oprah. I long ago tired of
      Cube, a thirty-something successful director, entrepreneur and married
      father of three children making records about his aged recollections
      of a thug's life. The gangsta theme went cliché eons ago, but Cube, 50
      and a whole array of their musical peers lack either the freedom or
      the vision to talk about any broader element of our lives. The reality
      is that the major labels and their majority white fan base will not
      accept anything else from them.

      And there we have it again: more masks, more lies.

      It is not coincidental that hip hop has made Ni@$a the most common
      noun in popular music but you have almost never heard any certified
      thug utter the word cracker, ofay, honky, peckerwood, wop, dago,
      guinea, kike or any other white-oriented epithet. The reason for that
      is simple: Massa ain't havin' it. The word fag, once a commonplace
      derisive in the music has all but disappeared from hip hop's
      vocabulary. (Yes, these thugs fear the backlash from white gays too.)
      And bitch is still allowed with the common understanding that the term
      is referring to black women. The point is this: debasement of black
      communities is entirely acceptable – required even – by hip hop's
      predominantly white consumer base.

      We have lived enough history to know better by now – to know that
      gangsta is Sonny Liston, the thug icon of his era, threatening to kill
      Cassius Clay but completely impotent when it came to demanding that
      his white handlers stop stealing his money. Gangsta is the black men

      at the Parchman Farm prison in Mississippi who beat the civil rights
      workers Fannie Lou Hamer and Annell Ponder into bloody unconsciousness
      because their white wardens told them to. Gangsta is Michael Ervin,
      NFL bad boy remaining conspicuously mute on Monday Night Football
      while Limbaugh dissed Donovan McNabb as an Affirmative Action athlete.
      Gangsta is Bigger Thomas with dilated pupils and every other
      sweaty-palmed black boy who saw method acting and an attitude as his
      ticket out of the ghetto.

      Surely our ancestors' struggles were about more than creating
      millionaires who could care less about us and then tolerating their
      violent disrespect out of a hunger for black success stories. Surely
      we are not so desperate for heroes that we uphold cardboard icons
      because they throw good glare. There's more required than that. The
      weight of history demands more than simply this. Surely we understand
      that these men are acting out an age-old script. Taking the Tom
      Molineaux route. Spitting in the wind and breaking black bones. Hoping
      to become free.

      Or, at least a well-paid slave.

    2. #2
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      manifestdestiny is offline Administrator

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      We wore the masks long enough, turn off the damn radio and demand better.
      Power to the People, Black power, Black is more then beautiful

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