In the preface of The Vinyl Ain’t Final, Robin Kelley exclaims ‘Hip Hop is Dead! Long Live Hip Hop’, and the rest of the contributors in this edited volume respond by providing critical perspectives that bridge the gap between American-orientated hip hop and its global reach.From the front lines of hip hop culture and music in the USA, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Hawaii, Tanzania, Cuba, Samoa and South Africa, academics, poets, practitioners, journalists, and political commentators explore hip hop -- both as a culture and as a commodity. From the political economy of the South African music industry to the cultural resistance forged by Afro-Asian hip hop, this potent mix of contributors provides a unique critical insight into the implications of hip hop globally and locally. Indispensable for fans of hip hop culture and music, this book will also appeal to anyone interested in cultural production, cultural politics and the implications of the huge variety of forms hip hop encompasses.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
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About the Author
Dipa Basu is and Associate Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at Pitzer College, Claremont, California. Her recent publications include 'Sociology of the Color Line' in Peter Ratcliffe, ed. The Politics of Social Science Research: Race, Ethnicity and Social Change (Palgrave Press, 2001). Sidney Lemelle is an Associate Professor of Black Studies at Pomona College, Claremont, California. He has co-edited with Robin D.G Kelley, Imagining Home: Class, Culture and Nationalism in the African Diaspora (Verso, 1994).
Read an Excerpt
'For the People,' 'TRIBUTE,' and 'REDBONE'
Umar Bin Hassan
'FOR THE PEOPLE'
At ease with the source. I revel in the silent song of the breeze. The oppression that begins each moment comes to grip with the mind's eye. In the dark green density of the forest there is a place where all beings, all consciousness, all experience comes together in the flight of the wasp, in the darkness and secrets of mestizo eyes, in the torrid and raging passion of pagan rituals. All cries, all pleas, all justice, all meanings are visible to the divine in you, to the divine in me. Swept up in the anthem of human progress and the rendering of ourselves to mink coats and alligator shoes. Hoping and praying we remember where we learned to become human. In the beginning our minds are strong. Our hearts are big. We keep believing in love and kindness to our friends, to our enemies. But these values. These few pennies and dimes degenerate our sensitivity. Our soul awakens us from a dreadful sleep. She cannot feed us the rocks and pebbles that sprout from the soil. She cannot kiss us with lips protruding with disease and pollution. She cannot hold us with arms burdened by exploitation. But still we see our future in her images and symbols. In the beauty of her tapestries. In the horns and guitars. And dancing in the street. And cool breezes kissing the desert sands. And the romance of street people sincerely pleading take your time with the music, for this is for the people. Take your time with the music for this is for the people. Take your time with the Revolution for this is for the people!
That special place inside your smile, that belongs to the softness of our hearts.
The new circle is beginning. Will we be there when it ends?
The children patronize a flaming merry go round.
Many are riding the pale horse.
They nod so divinely at a lost parade.
Their ghostly playmate has left their innocence in shambles.
A whirlwind has stolen their humility.
What smile is this upon their face.
A smile that mourns the obscenity of their youth.
No flowers for them to smell. No grass to sing the praises of nature. No blue skies for them to bathe their hopes in.
Trapped in the skylines of florescent charms.
Warm and timid touches being forced into unnatural acts.
While rich men dance with limp dolls in the luxury of their shame. Their mouths foaming from dead languages, while democratic lies bay at the moon.
Why must the dark ages still play games with us? But righteousness is still standing.
Truth beckons its glory to us.
Can't you see that it's time to move on into that Special place inside your smile that
Has graced us with warmth and inspiration.
Blind sprinters lost in a moment of a peaceful masquerade.
Evil is an intruder. But why do we let it in?
We have no one to blame but ourselves.
Time and time again we are being harassed by spastic heroes.
Heroes who speak maggots for words. Heroes who vomit in the eyes of sabbath.
Heroes who unleash killer locusts upon our dignity.
Run ... Run ... the ocean is going to sail without us.
The stars have no sympathy of our allegiance with darkness.
The birds are not singing. They are not winging And we can't fly! We can't fly!
Grounded with the sinister burden of free enterprise.
Bombs shatter the shrines of our independence.
But there must be struggle and striving and struggle.
And a walk to the water, every step a journey into trust.
The future needs a friend to believe in.
The truth flashes by in the trail of a comet.
The ancestors always speak in volumes.
The children are the ones we must save.
Take their hands sincerely, and walk with them in their time, in their rhythm, in their
Smiles, in their pushes on the swings, in their falling down and getting back up.
You will learn how to live and be at ease with yourself in the Special place inside
In the Sketches of Spain and the cool drama of your smile, my first breath of fresh air was REDBONE. And I constantly began to cling to the hem of your sacred song of never what you ... needed. But only of what you wanted to give. I happily waddled and toddled in the stutter of your name rolled off of my lips wisely and carefully as I tried to keep my distance in Manchild rebellions and the Dance of the Infidels that always seemed to find their way back to your Mood Indigo. You were the only real Africa in my clenched fist and revolutionary posturing. Your Prayers. Your whispered suggestions on the Wind kept my eye on the Prize. I was your Prince for a moment in that realm of Misterioso and the humiliation of men seeding redress for miscarriages of justice in Mississippi Juke Joints and the Lullabys of Birdland. You nurtured my soul with Responsible dreams and hopes for the future of your words ... became mine to be confused, but concise. Troubled, but seeking. Somewhat exaggerated, but always loving inspirations to write poems for REDBONE women like you.
With Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum in one hand and trust in the other we ran naked through Public parks opened late at night for private lap dances and strip poker in the real ... Garden of Eden inside of me and inside of you ... were my first love in the Big City of Country Boys who became small town memories and fading Neon flickers of moving too fast to slow down. Slow down ... you said as you straddled my young, strong ... hard country grind while guiding it into soft and lingering romantic adventures. And as I slide into your welcome Brass and Rhythm sections converge on our senses. You seriously begin to exercise your imagination while tempting and teasing my perversions. The warmth and wetness of your greeting overwhelms my inhibitions as they stroll the broad and shaded avenues of your pleasure. Your tongue. My tongue. Become one. Become bandits. Explorers in Dark, exotic and uncharted territories. Together we taunt and provoke the pristine and the passion in me could not contain the passion in you knew ... how to open and close those sumptuous and sculptured thighs as soft teeth and warm tongue came to reside in places of eternal gratitude and the Divine intervention of the Living God of Voo doo legends and Creole mamas in my face. Their masterpieces entrusted to my artistry as my street culture rises ... to meet their high ... art of snapping and popping that Coochie in my mind. You were my partners in crime. My walks in the Rain. My tuna noodle casseroles and Nights in Tunisia of forever experiencing and embracing poems for REDBONE women like you.
Laid back in the music of the Dells. The Impressions. The Temptations in a mellow mood. You came heavily armed. And as the Gardenias of Lady Day smiled down on you ... snatched me from demons trapped in squared circles mathematically opposed to my resurrection on the third day I became one with you again in kinship, in familiar traditions, in the sibling rivalry we once shared in the line of fire. In the sincerity of your loud gestures and Tenor Madness of trying to save life. I lived with you. Fought with you. And then humbled myself to your patience and unconditional love took me back to the beginning. To the Projects. To the snow cream on very bad days ... To a father who kept whizzing past us in three dimensional time. To sucking off of each other's laughter in order to survive the sizzle of crack pipes and temporary insanity runs in our fears, runs in our dreams, runs in our families should be more like you are the TRUE ... sisters of the Church and the Temples at Memphis and the Candaces of Moroe strong and revered warriors from the banks of the Nile and radiant smiles ... and hands on healing ... placed on wide hips of subtle and gracious insinuations challenging and imploring me to keep writing poems for REDBONE women ... like you.
'A Rap Thing,' 'On Rapping Rap,' and 'Hip Hop or Homeland Security'
'A RAP THING'
'You remind me of my jeep. I wanna wax ya baby ... remind me of my bank account. I wanna spin ya baby.' That's from 'You Remind Me of Something' by R. Kelly. The song is smooth with a funky bottom and a sexy lead vocalist. Why does it grit my teeth every time I hear it. Well it's not because I'm, as one of my sons put it, an old man who just can't interpret the young whipper snappers. That said, I must admit, I'm more at home with R&B with the soft significance of an Anita Baker, or even Brown Stone. Singers like Sade, and yes ya' all — Whitney. I also enjoy much of rap for its vitality, its rawness, its irreverence, and its creativity. Rap is an authentic descendant of a people with ancient African oral traditions. From griots who sang praise songs to their kings. To bluesmen who transmuted their pain into art. For a generation born into America's chilling waters of discontent, into the 1970s and 80s, into periods of denial, cutbacks, and emergent White supremacy. One must understand how love songs sound false and discordant, out of tune with their gritty survivalist realities. When their mothers and fathers were teenagers, Curtis Mayfield sang, 'we are winners, and never let any body say that you can't make it, cuz when people's mind is in your way, were movin' on up.' Earth, Wind, and Fire — in exquisite harmony, 'Keep Your Head to the Sky' and Bob Marley and the Wailers thundered over rolling baseline, 'get up stand up, stand up for your rights.' The hip pop generation came into consciousness on Tina Turners — What's love got to do with it or an egocentric mix that glorified materialism like Run DMC's my Adidas about a pair of sneakers or Whodini's friends how no one can be trusted. Their parents grew up in the midst of hope and Black liberation's consciousness. The youth grew up in a milieu of dog eat dogism, of America's retreat from its promises, of Reaganism, and White, right-wing resurgence. In that sense, rap's harshness merely reflects a harsher reality of lives lived amidst broken promises. How could it be otherwise? At its heart though, rap is a multi-billion dollar business permeating America's commercial culture and influencing millions of minds. It is that all American corporationism that transforms rap's grittiness into the gutter of materialism — a woman, a living being, reminds a man of a thing, a car. That to me is more perverse than the much criticized — bitches and ho's comments. This is especially objectionable when one notes than in America in the last century, in the eyes of the law, Blacks were property, chattel, things like wagons owned by Whites. That a Black man, some three generations later could sing that a Black woman, his god given mate, his female self could remind me of my jeep, amazes me. This isn't nor could it be a condemnation of rap. The late Tupac Shakur's 'Dear Mama' and 'Keep Your Head Up' are shining examples of artistic expressions of loving oneness with one's family and people. Creative, moving, loving, funky, angry and real are that late, young man's works, as is a fair amount of the genre. Like any art form in America, it is also a business with the influences of the marketplace impacting upon its production. The more conscious its artists, the more conscious the art. Keep Your Head Up. From Death Row — This is Mumia Abu-Jamal. (Sound of prison door shutting)
'ON RAPPING RAP'
'Let me write the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws.'
Daniel O'Connell, Irish Nationalist (1775–1847)
The recent Rap Summit in New York (2001), organized by hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, and supported by leading industry, political, academic, and cultural figures speaks volumes, not so much of the music, as of the people who make the music, and what role they play in American (and increasing, global) society. One does not have to look long nor hard to perceive the criticism launched at the rap music genre. It is, in part, this very criticism, coupled with political threats, that made such a Summit necessary. It's helpful for us sometimes to look at history to see more clearly where we are today, and why. You don't have to crack a history book to find the first example. (Talk to your mom, pop, or grandmom, grandpop.)
In the 1970s and 1960s when rock music and rhythm and blues were emerging, it was heavily criticized by adults, who called it 'noise.' Southern racists and segregationists called it '##### music,' or 'jungle music,' and organized events to burn such records, or even bulldoze piles of such materials. What was happening then was an historical echo of what was happening before, in an earlier era. When both jazz and the blues emerged from Black culture, these artists were severely criticized for making music that was seen as 'immoral.' The late, great jazz trumpeter, Miles Davis, bore the hatred of small-minded cops in Philadelphia and Manhattan, and could easily predict harassment, a jail cell, or a beating when he performed in either venue.
Black feminist scholar, Angela Davis, in her book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism notes that both Whites and bourgeois Blacks regarded the blues as 'lowly,' 'vulgar,' or 'bizarre' musical forms. Today, the same artists who were criticized and demeaned as 'low,' 'vulgar,' or even drug addicts, are remembered as musical geniuses, and icons, whose work is revered for its scope, depth, power, and brilliance. Imagine how dry American music would be without John Coltrane, Miles, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday. Or Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Chuck Berry, etc ...
What is happening with rap?
Every generation of Black America creates its own music form, to speak to their place in national life. Rag-time and blues were the first musical forms made outside of the church, and as a secular form, was condemned by African-American religious and community leaders. It caught on with working class and poor Blacks though, because it spoke to their lives in a false, hypocritical 'freedom,' which was really blue.
Similarly, rap has been criticized for its violent misogynistic (means the hatred of women) character. That violence, misogyny, and materialism arises from a national characteristic that is profoundly American. America is easily one of the most violent nations on earth, and has a barely suppressed hatred of women. Materialism is almost a pre-eminent American trait. Much of the criticism leveled at rap was at one time directed to other Black art forms, and usually had more to do with the policing of Black sexuality than anything else. Nothing so disturbs the twisted labyrinths of White supremacy than Black creativity, artistry, and productivity. Think of it this way: what other music form draws the scrutiny of the corporate press like rap? I have heard heavy metal that was so steeped in violent imagery, of death, torture, and dismemberment, that it made my nose bleed. It was so misogynistic that it gave me a headache. But these were White artists, who are presumed to be free. Rappers are allegedly 'free' to say what they wish, but they are profiled by the state, in the same way Miles was 40 years ago. The cops didn't think he should be driving an imported car, so they busted him on Broad Street in Philly.
How little things have changed.
'HIP HOP OR HOMELAND SECURITY'
To think about the origins of hip hop in this culture and also about homeland security is to see that there are at the very least two worlds in America. One of the well to do and another of the struggling. For if ever there was the absence of homeland security it is seen in the gritty roots of hip hop.
For the music arises from the generation that feels, with some justice, that they have been betrayed by those who came before them. That they are at best tolerated in schools, feared on the streets, and almost inevitably destined for the hellholes of prison.
They grew up hungry, hated, and unloved and this is the psychic fuel that generates the anger that seems endemic in much of the music and poetry, one senses very little hope about the personal goals of wealth, to climb above the pit of poverty.
In the broader society the opposite is true, for here more than any other place on earth wealth is so widespread and so bountiful that what passes for the middle class in America could pass for the upper class in most of the rest of the world. Their very opulence and relative wealth makes them insecure and homeland security is a governmental phrase that is as oxymoron as crazy as say military intelligence, or the U.S. department of Justice.
They are just words that have very little relationship to reality. Now do you feel safer now? Do you think you will anytime soon? Do you think duck tape and Kleenex and color codes will make you safer?
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Excerpted from "The Vinyl Ain't Final"
Copyright © 2006 Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle.
Excerpted by permission of Pluto Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Robin D.G. Kelley
Introduction by Dipannita Basu and Sidney Lemelle
SIDE ONE: RAP AND HIP HOP IN THE US
1. 'For the People,' 'TRIBUTE,' and 'REDBONE.' by Umar Bin Hassan
2. 'A Rap Thing,' 'On Rapping Rap.' and 'For Mario: Homeland and Hip Hop,' by Mumia Abu-Jamal
3. Hip Hop: As a Culture and Generation by Dipannita Basu
4. Nobody Knows My Name and an interview with the Director Rachel Raimist: A Female Hip Hop Film Maker by Dipannita Basu and Laura Harris
5. From Azeem to Zion-I: Th