Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

16Sep/150

Mos Def – History ft. Talib Kweli

Taking it back a few years...

14Mar/150

Public Enemy – Fight the Power & He Got Game

This week we observed some news talk show hosts blame hip-hop for the racism we see in the larger society. I think we're pretty safe in assuming that this was either willful ignorance or one of many recent and deliberate attempts to blame Black folks for the racism we continue to experience in this country (and throughout the world). Both are seemingly aimed at deflecting our attention, but too bad for the fool who thinks is that easy.

Hip-hop stands on solid ground. It is today, and always has been, an artistic and cultural protest forum against white racism.

Public Enemy always was, and remains, an exemplar within this tradition, and their message still resonates today.

21Jan/140

21 Forever – Jasiri X: Pushing Hip-Hop (and those of us who love it) to Grow Up

Here's a video we can all appreciate as we continue to settle into 2014. In this latest video, Jasiri X highlights the tragic reality of too many hip-hop artists continuing to push the same garbage they've been pushing for so many years. Even as they've gotten older, and settled into relationships and families, the message in their music hasn't experienced any equivalent levels of maturity.

Evidenced by this video, however, among many others (some of which I've highlighted previously), we know there are plenty willing to push the envelope, and tell stories of growth, learning, and resistance against racism and other forms of oppression.

In Jasiri X's words...

But if we don’t actively work to change the culture of violence in our communities, and a music industry that celebrates, promotes, and profits off of Black death, then we can guarantee even more murders in 2014.

I made the song “21 Forever” because I was tired of hearing the same played out and destructive topics in almost every rap song that made it to the mainstream. Even worse, many of the artists performing these songs were in their mid 30s or older. These grown men are not just rappers, most are fathers and successful entrepreneurs. How come when don’t hear more songs about being in committed relationships, good parenting, and running a successful legitimate business? Why do we continue to hear the same hood stories of selling drugs and pimping women on repeat?

In 2014, with Hip-Hop turning 40, and many of it’s most successful representatives approaching middle age, will we finally grow up? Or will Hip-Hop be 21 forever?

Indeed, these words apply to those of us who love hip-hop as well.

Newest Video by Jasiri X... Published on Dec 31, 2013

Directed by Ali Baba Rosenthal III and Xavier Ruffin, "21 Forever" is produced by Religion and appears on Jasiri X's new album "Ascension" https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/asc...

13Nov/130

Nelly Wanted To ‘Kick Somebody’s Ass’ Over Spelman’s Protest Of ‘Tip Drill’ (VIDEO)

Interesting exchange here between Marc Lamont Hill at HuffPost Live and rapper / hip-hop artist, Nelly.  This discussion is primarily about the circumstances surrounding a 2004 protest and boycott led by several Spellman College students, of a bone marrow drive Nelly was coordinating in support of his then-ill sister.  Nelly's sister later lost her fight with cancer, leaving Nelly wondering whether a potential donor might have come forward on that day, had not the Spellman students used that as an opportunity to protest Nelly's less than favorable depiction of women in his music.

Evident in this exchange, as is often the case when hip-hop artists sit down to have an intelligent conversation with reporters and others about meaningful issues, Nelly has strong ideas about the ways women are depicted through music, about the meaning and nature of social responsibility, and the relationship between the two when it comes to hip-hop and rap music artists.

It's worth watching/listening to, if for no other reason than the questions raised, as well as some of the contradictions Nelly pushes Marc and others to be more mindful of.

Ultimately, it's clear that Nelly and Marc Lamont Hill are having two different conversations, and only toward the end do they come close to responding to one another.  Doesn't quite happen, though.  A real dialogue about the need for more affirming and uplifting images and lyrics in music is important, as is the importance of raising an awareness and consciousness about African Americans' health in general, and the need for more African American bone marrow / stem cell donors more specifically.  It seems that 2004 occasion may have been a missed opportunity on both accounts.

I still maintain that neither of these discussions would be as pressing if we, as African people in America, were more clear about our history, and were more serious about healing and developing our communities.

No conscious people would be arguing about this craziness, nor would we allow this crazy pathology to continue.  Far more work for all of us to do.