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Topic subjectwe need to mourn the death of the consciousness within us.
Topic URLhttp://board.okayplayer.com/okp.php?az=show_topic&forum=22&topic_id=27250&mesg_id=27296
27296, we need to mourn the death of the consciousness within us.
Posted by poetx, Tue Apr-05-05 09:43 AM
loved the article, but two quick points.

1) i agree that the whole 'conscious' movement within hiphop was deaded, in part, by the corporate music industry. i think 'wake up' by brand nubian was really the tipping point for that. remember the spin article that pointed out that white folks were singing about the devil (heavy metal) and black folks were rapping about god (well, that we were gods, via nge influence). you think a cracka in his right mind is going to let that continue?

we see, with the roots/mca/geffen, as prime examples, what one's label can do (or not do) with respect to getting an artist out there. even a respected artist with an established fanbase. the structure of this music industry, which has only consolidated since the late eighties (thanks to reagan an thems degregulation orgy) serves to allow it to act in its general interest.

yes. there were certainly other significant cultural dynamics that led to the ascension of the west coast, and gangsta rap, but the premature death of 'conscious' hip hop was certainly NOT a phenomenon of market forces alone.

2) even if corporate america helped 'pull the plug' on conscious rap, bringing it back is not as simple as plugging it back in. we now have a generation shaped and molded to appreciate certain things and devalue others. when we, as a community, were in the middle, philosophically, it may have been possible for a persuasive artist to help tip us, either way. but now? change won't come unless we change the culture at the grass roots. ain't no rapper/can't no rapper come on the scene and flip things back to the way they were in '89, because the people are too far gone.

3) we need to realize the fact that 'consciousness' was a phase of hip hop, not it's identity. it's painful for those of us who love the music AND have as a goal the upliftment of black people, but it's true. there's nothing wrong with the music, as black music has historically done, reflecting some of our aims and aspirations, and communicating our best hopes and dreams. but that will not come at the expense of shaking asses, as that's simply ahistorical.

alternative media (*cough* internet *cough*) and other means of communication and connection will have to be used to foment this change in collective consciousness. it will simply not come about through the existing corporate media structure, because they have the power to veto that shit and can be trusted to operate in their own interest.

4) lessons learned need to be done. a lot of 'conscious' emcees weren't conscious. they were merely following the fad. as fads go, it was a nice fad to have, but a lot of them cats had no idea what they were talking about and no real depth or committment. the movement seemed larger than it was as a consequence. also, very few can pull off the artist/activist role with equal aplomb. chuck d is one of the few who was highly respected as someone with a valuable message and (for a time) was one of the best in his craft. for many others, they ended up with the sista souljah syndrome. she was a committed activist and organizer. but a rapper? nah. then you had numerous bandwagoners who dipped they shit in a little red, black & green to keep sellin, but weren't really saying much of anything.

a mass of artists who are educated politically, culturally, AND practice their craft at a high level, AND, are equipped to deal with the character assassination that will come from stepping up and being a threat to the status quo? i don't see that happening. this is kinda like the failure of the post-civil rights movement in microcosm (ie, the failure of charismatic leadership - prone to assassination, scandal, sabotage, etc).

next time around, we gonna need to bring the grassroots up to certain level. unfortunately, hip hop, at least as distributed through the major media channels, is NOT gonna be the tool to do that. if we can build networks and use underground distribution, it can certainly help. but them ninjas ain't gonna be charting on billboard.

as always brother, much respect to your committment to the struggle.

peace & blessings,


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