We Don’t Write About Hip Hop On The Computer
So the internet is going nuts over a recent Stanford University “I Am Hip Hop” roundtable. While I’ve already said my piece on Kris’ craziness (really though what is there to say other than “that dudes crazy, but I did like Criminal Minded,” I can’t believe people are actually defending an outburst like that), it’s unfortunate that the KRS incident is getting all the attention while some very sane and intelligent speakers are overlooked. For example, one of my personal rap heroes, Boots Riley from the Coup made some very on point comments that I took the time to transcribe, because i know a lot of fools aren’t going to take the time to listen to two hours of audio:
“I think though that a lot of the labels that are put out there as far as who’s conscious and who’s not go strictly on an aesthetic level of what kind of music is behind who’s rap. You know, I always talk about back in the day when Ice Cube had Death Certificate out and there was a big movement of new york rappers like, and i think Black Sheep might’ve been out at the time. Black sheep was conscious and Ice Cube was gangsta. Death Certificate was one of the most revolutionary albums that I ever listened to but yet [it] had more of a blues aesthetic behind them and it seemed like something that might have been geared towards black people’s music that they were listening to. But if you had more jazz samples in your stuff that was thought of to be intellectually superior.And it always goes that way. Hip hop wasn’t the first music to be talked about in this way. That ‘bebop is culturally superior to blues,’ that was being talked about all the time. And it really has to do with what most people think black people are listening to is gonna be called ignorant. Ten years later, ten years from now it’s gonna be some white kids making music that sounds like lil jon and black folks are gonna have moved on, but that music is going to be called the intelligent music.
Because right now we’re all (I gotta say what’s up to KRS one obviously man), we’re always being criminalized, the image of black folks is always being criminalized. The culture that around is being criminalized and there has to be a reason for more police in the streets, there has to be a reason why we’re all broke. There has to be reason why we’re under the impression that we’re under and the reason is never that there’s a system that works against us, it’s always the culture that we create that points to our inherent inability to cope. And that’s what all of this discussion is really about. This discussion is really about saying that the culture that black folks make is some how not as smart as it could be. And not as progressive as other people, as certain forms of art. So we overlook when Trick Daddy makes a song that’s very progressive and political, we overlook Juvenile’s lyrics that are very progressive and political.
And then on the other hand we overlook the so called underground rap that says way more demeaning things to women and we overlook the so called underground rap that says way more right wing lyrics and things like that. And it really has to do with an aesthetic. We know that a lot of people are listening to hip hop and to me it’s the systems problem. How do you get to the point that most of the white kids and people in the united states, in general white people, are listening to hip hop – how do you get them to listen to hip hop but not relate to black folks at the same time? The way you do that, because if you relate to the problems that black folks are in you might start thinking about the system itself and how it’d work. The way that you do it is to characterize this music as being less than up to par.
And you talk about how ten years ago black folks was peaceful so the music that was made ten, twenty years ago was always the peaceful music. You know, it’s always when black folks was good and in their place and… in the 80s we used to have parties where everybody loved each other and hugged and that was the music that was going on so let’s bring it back to ’88. When we know for sure that back in 88 most of the stuff that’s saying take it back to ’88 wouldn’t have got played. Because one, you can’t dance to it, you can’t play it at a party. People rhymin all off, with no kind of rhythm to it, no patterns or nothing like that. But we get this idea of what black music was twenty years ago and it’s always the case. In the sixties all of the sudden blues was in after black folks had already moved on in general. And, that twas the music that was real, that was real soulful cause all of the motown stuff and the stax stuff was contrived.
Basically I think that the whole discussion it really has to do with can the struggle to say that our problems come from our culture that we create vs. the question of do our problems come from a system that we need to fight against.”
The legendary Davey D also made some strong points. I was going to transcribe his speech as well but my hands are tired. He starts speaking immediately after Boots, at about 30 minutes in. Everything prior to it is basically just Kris yelling and the guy from dead prez saying “yaknowhatimean.” For the second part knowledge reigned supreme over nearly everybody, and i especially liked the first female speaker (didn’t catch her name, identifed herself as an early source writer), who took rappers to task for their historic inability to take criticism on any level. Then KRS closes out, now reduced to a whisper, which, as you know, would be a restrained shout from the mouth of anyone else. I don’t think dude’s stopped yelling in twenty years. Fresh for 2006, you suckas.Listen to Part 1 of the conference.
Listen to Part 2 of the conference.
“WE DON’T WRITE ABOUT [HIP HOP] ON THE COMPUTER” – KRS One