Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Hip-Hop Revolution?

Last night Brother Smartness and I broke out of our cubicles to make our way to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. I sped down the Harlem River Drive and Smartness rode the subway uptown for the most recent installment of the Leadership Series with former Williams College professor (holla!) Dr. Cornel West (who I still believe to be Kanye’s illegitimate father).

For a $20 fee (Kanye quotable: "Ain't no tuition for having no ambition / And ain't no loans for sittin' yo' ass at home"), we sat down in the Langston Hughes auditorium to listen to the distinguished panel that Cornel put together. The list of knowledge droppers included Carlito Rodriguez, Producer Consultant at BET News; Akiba Solomon, Senior Editor at Vibe Vixen and Co-Editor at Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Body Parts; Greg Tate, author and long-time contributor to the Village Voice; Dr. Imani Perry, Associate Professor at Rutgers Law School and author of Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip-Hop; and BrownEph’s revered Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Assistant Professor of Urban Education at Temple University.

Questions posed last night included: what role does hip-hop play in today’s political and social landscape? Which contemporary artists are carrying the torch that used to be held by Boogie Down Productions to Public Enemy? Discussion also touched on the "stop snitching" movement, a call for the community to start providing positive outlets for youth, the creation of an intergenerational dialogue where old and young heads can positively come together, homosexuality in hip-hop, the ever declining role of women in hip-hop, the necessity of compassion in a hip-hop revolution, the use of hip-hop as a tool for social reform, and the use of music to convey knowledge (thanks for the recap Sister Lightness).

As I would only fall criminally short in my effort, I won’t even make the attempt to further recap the evening’s discussions. Just rest assured that the hip-hop revolution will not be televised.

The level of discussion generated made this brother feel like he was sitting in church on Sunday and the revolutionary potential for hip-hop that was unveiled helped me see far beyond a foggy contemporary scene that’s filled with two-stepping and finger snapping (but please believe I’ll still be doing both in the club. Call it complex humanity…).

3 comments:

Brother Smartness said...

First and foremost, I want to apologize to our readers for not dedicating a post to the conference. I’m sure many of you would have enjoyed it. I got word of the conference from Barbershop Notebooks (see blogs we frequent) yesterday afternoon and had I been on top of my game I would have put it out there for you all.

The conference, titled “A Hip-Hop Revolution?,” was profound and intellectually stimulating. One critique I have that only came to me later on in the evening, was that there was a serious lack of young folk in the building. The panelist spoke of the necessity for an intergenerational discussion on Hop-Hop and yet it seemed that Lightness and I were the youngest in the audience. Tickets were $20, which I think it might be a bit steep for a high school cat, and there was no student discount. The end result is that there was a dearth of the more recent Hip-Hop demographic; something I believe was essential to this cause.

That aside, the conference was exceptional. Everyone on that stage represented what I believe is the real revolution of Hip-Hop; Brothers and Sisters engaging in a very spiritual and intellectual discussion about the virtues and vices of this movement and challenging one another to consider the real impact the music is having on our generation and generations to come.

Sista Butterfly said...

To add to this rich and important discourse taking place around the state of hip-hop culture as it relates to our community and to our youth, I highly suggest the documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Rap Music. Sisters and Brothers, please look into this one-hour film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January 2006. It looks at all the social issues we knew existed in hip-hop, and holds them up to our face so we can’t ignore them. The documentary discusses issues of misogyny, hyper-masculinity, homosexuality, and the commodification hip-hop. On a personal note, watching this video has really disillusioned me regarding the state of our hip-hop music and the artists who represent us [artists that we love]. Please go see this movie. Check out the filmmaker Byron Hurt at http://www.bhurt.com/. And as a shameless plug Beyond Beats and Rhymes will be playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) next month as part of Sundance Institute at BAM. Check out http://www.bam.org/film/series.aspx?id=77. All you Manhattan dwellers, hop on any train to downtown Brooklyn—it’s really not that far away.
I hope you are all well.
Peace and Blessings.
Sista Butterfly

Sista Butterfly said...

To add to this rich and important discourse taking place around the state of hip-hop culture as it relates to our community and to our youth, I highly suggest the documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Rap Music. Sisters and Brothers, please look into this one-hour film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this past January 2006. It looks at all the social issues we knew existed in hip-hop, and holds them up to our face so we can’t ignore them. The documentary discusses issues of misogyny, hyper-masculinity, homosexuality, and the commodification hip-hop. On a personal note, watching this video has really disillusioned me regarding the state of our hip-hop music and the artists who represent us [artists that we love]. Please go see this movie. Check out the filmmaker Byron Hurt at http://www.bhurt.com/. And as a shameless plug Beyond Beats and Rhymes will be playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) next month as part of Sundance Institute at BAM. Check out http://www.bam.org/film/series.aspx?id=77. All you Manhattan dwellers, hop on any train to downtown Brooklyn—it’s really not that far away.
I hope you are all well.
Peace and Blessings.
Sista Butterfly