Alternet has a printable version of this article, and since they don't have banner ads, guess I could link to that instead. . .:
Hip Hop Confronts War
Walidah Imarisha, War Times
August 2, 2002
Since Sept. 11 corporate media have regurgitated the government's mindless pro-war propaganda. It's not just CNN and NBC, though: big money rappers have fallen in line to rally 'round the flag, from Mystikal to R. Kelly to Wu-Tang Clan to MC Hammer.
Hammer is still alive?
There is no god.
And Wu-Tang is just always up for a fight. You'd think the names like "Ghostface Killah" and "Masta Killa" might be some small indication of this.
"Whether you have Dan Rather or Wyclef or Ja Rule wrapped up in red, white and blue, it's the same, because then they become the Dan Rather of the hip hop community," says Mario Africa of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, publisher of AWOL, a political hip hop magazine.
Rapper Canibus' song "Draft Me" is just part of a media blitz feeding the racist attacks that have claimed dozens of Middle Eastern/Arab/South and Central Asian people since Sept. 11: "Lurkin', to leave y'all with bloody red turbans/Screamin Jihad!' while y'all pray to a false god/We ready for all out war, it's time to settle the score." The song ends with a clip of George W. Bush.
Taking a page from the right-wingers' book, who the hell gonna listen to someone named Canibus?
But luckily, underground hip hop is speaking out against the "war on terrorism," operating, as Africa says, as town criers. "It's these cats who are selling their CDs out of their backpacks and the trunk of their cars who come with the analysis, because they can say this is what it means to me, because we live under the gun."
[. . .] And hip hop artists/organizers are still doing what they know best: creating art. Seattle hip hoppers put out "911amerika" earlier this year (See www.nwexplosion.com). Gabriel Teodros, one of the organizers, says, "I was disturbed that for the first time in my life people of color were waving U.S. flags and screaming retaliation ... The CD just felt like the best thing we could do to help combat the self-destruction."
Erik Wissa works with the Boston American Friends Service Committee's hip hop program Critical Breakdown. He says hip hop, as the voice of young people today, is a vital tool for the progressive movement. "A lot of organizations don't see the power in music, but cultural workers have always been at the forefront of every movement."
Somebody has to say it: American Friends Service Committee runs a hip hop program?
Guess that somebody didn't have to be me. . .
The children have never been known for their policy analysis skills. Chuck D and KRS-One are still the go-to guys for actual insight, or at least the ones with the name recognition to maybe get mainstream coverage.
Except, of course, they usually don't.
Want to know more? See The Guardian's article on Draft Me. Explaining why you have to look overseas for decent mainstream coverage of hip hop politics is left as an exercise for the student.