Hip Hop Artists Miss a Beat By Avoiding D.C. March
8/23/2013, 6 a.m.
Beginning this weekend, there will be two celebrations of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – one on Saturday, Aug. 24 and another one on Aug. 28, the actual anniversary of the march. Yet, I haven’t heard or seen much enthusiasm from the hip hop community and wonder what it is going to take to bridge the gap between these two generations. While no one can argue the importance and significance of the original March, we may have to pull teeth to get this generation to participate wholeheartedly. Let’s examine why.
If you analyze many hip hop songs, the content contains much of what each individual sees or interprets during their life experience. Many even fabricate or exaggerate their experiences to emphasize their point. Listeners respond because they can relate to or vividly visualize the subject matter.
When it comes to the Civil Rights Movement, young people simply don’t see the benefit. Hip hop has a ‘prove it to me’ mentality. It is also suffers from an instant gratification syndrome. If we want to successfully connect the generations, we have to present a transparent agenda that leads to direct and tangible results for everyone. The hip hop community analyzes through sharp lenses and is slow to trust anything that is presented by people who are considered outsiders. That is also why anyone who poses as hip hop’s ally gets away like a fat rat.
Tyrone Price, a loyal follower of hip hop and the 5% Nation, says he is sick of the illusions. He reasons, “You only have one time to convince me that the apple is green, before I look at it and see that it’s red and after that I will never trust you again. I feel that way about civil rights leaders. I am tired of hearing that things are going to change if I go out and march for their agenda. Things haven’t changed.”
I also reached out to 24 Hours of Peace founder and hip hop artist Hakim Green from the group Channel Live to weigh in with his perspective. He said: “Considering it’s the 50th anniversary of the March, it’s a shame that we aren’t more focused on it and haven’t risen to the level that inspired the original March. I don’t understand why our elders haven’t been galvanizing people to honor the 50th anniversary as soon as President Obama started his second term in office. The Million Man March for me was the commemorative event that carried the spirit of the March on Washington. Even though I can’t make it, I hope the outcome is quality over quantity, and the right people show up to Washington.”
Hakim’s 3nd annual 24 Hours of Peace Event in Newark, N.J., sponsored by Councilman Ras Baraka, will provide a local forum for those unable to attend the August 24 march in Washington. Hip Hop artists Brand Nubian, Dead Prez, EPMD, Wise Professor, Mr. Cheeks, Naughty By Nature, Jasiri X, Redman, Lakim Shabazz and Savion Glover have all answered the call to use their voices to end violence and uplift the cause in the 24 Hours from 6 P.M. on August 23 to 6 P.M. on August 24. As Green explained: “There is a large amount of work still to do, I hope we honor peace over violence, love over hate and building over destroying.”
Another recording artist, P.S. Dot, said, “I appreciate and definitely respect it, (the 50th anniversary march) but there is so much that needs to be done. While we have a Black president in office, we still have incidents like Trayvon Martin with virtually the same response we had 50 years ago. Nothing.”
Dot added: “(W)e must remember that in the hip hop community, there is a large gap between the haves and the have-nots and the have-nots don’t consider marching as a viable answer. I don’t either.”
It seems like we still have some convincing to do.
(For additional information, log on to 24hrsofpeace.wordpress.com).
Jineea Butler, is founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union.