"You could have been anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me, I appreciate that”-Jay Z
I’ve always wanted to display not only my genuine love for hip hop and its culture but how I have been taught, influenced, challenged and inspired by it. One of my friends calls me the “Hip Hop Oracle”. I believe it's because of my ability to drop (yes, just like Funkmaster Flex) a dope line so relevant to the cipher that you might miss it even though its reference is profound to the conversation at hand. What can I say it’s a gift!
This blog was intentionally created for my my publishing class but it's a perfectly purposeful opportunity to brain vomit my thoughts about hip hop, as a cultural phenomenon. These upcoming posts illustrate who I am and how it's shaped me. I remember the first time I sat back and reflected on how hip-hop exposed me to an idea, person, place or thing. The knowledge dropped in infamous hip hop lyrics was self taught, not introduced in school let alone college in that matter. It was just something that I kind of stumbled upon. I am great listener when I want to be, but what captivates me most are thought provoking lyrics. I am quick to Google something I'm not familiar with, and I am most intrigued by aspects that I don't recognize.
One day I was listening to Lupe Fiasco’sFood & Liquoralbum (needless to say it is absolutely brilliant). I was vibing to a track called “Just Might Be OK” and he starts spittin'...
I'm cool I don't for tell best
I ain't nicest MC, I ain't cornel west
I am cornel west side chi town Guevara
Malcolm eXorcise the demons
My first thoughts were, “WHOA WHOA WHOA”. I immediately run the entire track back, pull out a pen and paper, and write down all the names he shouted out. Yes, I’ve heard of Che Guevara assuming Lupe was speaking of Che in the context of that specific bar, and of course I know Malcolm but Cornel West was a first. So on my journey home I was amped because I’m thinking I have to know this dude, who and why is he relevant for Lupe to mention. A flux of questions fire through my mind, is he from South Side Chi-Town?, what type of people would be named with Malcolm and Che? He for sure has to be some revolutionary type dude. I get home and Google him immediately. Philosopher, Check! Pro Black, Check! Discusses Biggie & Jay, Check! So now I am caught up. I look into purchasing something that he has published. His latest book at that time was, “Hope On A Tight Rope”, and it includes a free CD, let’s do it! I get the book and I fall in love. Dr. West has so much to offer to the world and I am blown away by his work. I love Cornel to da West because he uses language that forces me to expand my vocabulary. In some way I felt ashamed that I didn’t do my homework on him prior but I guess in due time it was meant to happen. While reading this book I found a speech he did called, Festivals Of Ideas, which has been something that I now use in a lot of the workshops, I run. In this video he compared Charles Darwin to Biggie, enough said! To say the least, this book was tight!! One of my very favorite quotes in the Identity and Race chapter was:
“The black middle class in the United States has become drunk with the wine of the world- materialism, narcissism, and hedonism. And then we wonder why the younger generation does not have access to the traditions of the struggle. Preach to young folk to be success rather than to be great and they will think it’s all about success. Do you really believe that Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randoph, and Malcolm X died so that you can just be successful? Do you think they died so that you can just be peacocks, walking around saying, “Look at me, look at me, look at me!” Somebody needs to remind everyone that peacocks strut because they can’t fly.”
Just re-typing that gave me the “BBM UGH” face. I will discuss in later posts the parallels in Hip Hop. I appreciate Lupe introducing me to one of the most remarkable philosophers of our time.