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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.


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43 Responses to “We Don’t Write About Hip Hop On The Computer”

  1. Iron Says:

    Damn, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for transcribing that.

    I hope I get a chance to listen to the audio, but just know your transcription is much appreciated.

    What boots said really hits home with me. I don’t know if the characterization of the music as less than stellar is the prime agent of ultimately what is the distraction of hip hop fans (which I agree with), but I definitely agree that the main thing here is for people to understand the system that emerged that creates problems in our community.

    See people think the system was “created”, when really it was more that it emerged. It’s essentially similar to the intelligent design vs evolution argument. Many people don’t want to believe in some mystical force that created something. Well there’s no need to, this system emerged much like natural selection, only it’s created by human minds so it’s not “natural”, if that makes sense. It’s deliberate.

    A lot of people do in fact believe that black culture is inferior, and that accounts for any disparities (dropout rates, prison rates, etc), but in fact it’s the system that has emerged.

    The bad news is that it’s incredibly complex and people can’t just “get it” in a soundbite.

    The good news is that rap is an incredible medium to express large chunks of information at a time.

    Anyway, thanks for putting this up. I’m the same guy that emailed you a long time ago looking for an obscure song called “Hustler part II”.

  2. David Says:

    Boots is so on point.

  3. John Bradley Says:

    No, unfortunately, its just not that complex. I WILL absolutely overlook “Trick Daddy” and “Juvenile” if they attempt to make some sort of political or social message. I will, as a human with a brain, weigh such a message against the worthless drivel that is their usual output. (To be honest, I am surprised at the depths at which rappers have sunk AND are applauded). If Juvenile has any “progressive” lyrics, which he has none of, then he has mooted himself with his majority work of pop crap. I know, it’s not fair. I, too, wish I could walk through walls even after I’ve used doors all day long.

    When you make a record that speaks of being a pimp, thug, or gangsta, you’ve done just that. Don’t try to disguise what is said with a genre mask. The Be-bop vs. Jazz analogy is a square peg trying very hard to fit itself in the round hole while blind onlookers encourage its attempts.

    John Lennon was treated exactly the same way, especially by the liberal media.

    KRS was the one who was initially interrupted because he called out an attending speaker who was present at the event. In true Hip Hop form, he pulled no punches and attempted to to get right to the point. He was heckled by someone yelling “stop the violence” after he said, “What I want to do is kick your motherfuckin ass” to some other speaker. Heaven forbid common sense prevail and the obvious meaning be allowed to prevail. I’m quite sure Christ wanted nothing more than to send flowers to the Roman guards who crucified him. (Now’s your chance for the obvious rebuttal).

    You guys can keep the bullshit internet articles. They only serve to make the real hip hop heads aware as to who is fake as fuck. (Yeah, you).

    Oh, and you have positively joined the ranks of “hype” since you used a vid-cap of KRS smiling in mid-sentence circa 2003. You ARE NOT Hip Hop, nor worthy of journalistic respect.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    man, john bradley, you sure sound upset… i think someone needs to come on and do the rodeo.

  5. mac china Says:

    We don’t write about Hip-hop on the computer. We also pirate the shit out of records.

    Speaking of which, check out RapInjustice, where a certain hyp(hy)ed album is being pirated as we speak.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    noz are you going crazy? i’ll keep watching you to see what crazy thing you do next…

  7. David Says:

    man, john bradley, you sure sound upset… i think someone needs to come on and do the rodeo.


  8. Mikey Ess Says:

    People from KRS down to John Bradley are taking themselves and personal labels far too seriously. The whole whose Hip Hop and whose not does not really matter. Whether you’re an emcee slaving over a pen and pad, or an internet junkie blogging his thoughts on music, you are what you are, and you do what you do. Moreover, I haven’t read many posts here on anyone taking themselves that seriously.

    KRS, simply put, needs a hug. He feels deprived to find that he is neither profiting or receiving credit for a genre he helped build. And that is understandable. It can’t feel good that most kids nowadays may only know of him because of his “beef” with Nelly. It must feel even worse that he has been off the radar for so many years. Im sure that stings, really bad. He felt challenged by someone who doesn’t know what any of that feels like. And he blew up. KRS isn’t crazy, just needs to realize his x-factor and find a coping mechanism other than sputtering sentence fragments at college students.

    I’ve so many more thoughts on this issue, I’m done for now.

  9. E. Lit Says:

    Man, this hip hop conference ish is sorta crazy, but the real shocker for me is that KRS One is gonna be on Awol One’s next album. Most random combo ever?! Hahahaha

  10. noz Says:

    oh no! the temple has outted me!

  11. TSF Says:

    Boots is the shit, one of my favorites to do it, and he does it so well. But still, I went to a Coup concert a few years back, after “Party Music” came out, and all Boots was doing was pushing Sobe (the show’s sponsor) the whole night, so what’s up with that? I heard this great interview with William Sayles the other day about the legacy of Malcolm X and he compared Jay-Z especially to the leaders in the early black liberation movement who supported black economic independence (Malcolm moved beyond that to a much more radical anti-capitalist stance by the way). I think a lot of people forget that Jay started out indie and like ?uestlove once said he’s “the smartest backpacker.” Just cuz guys like Jay and Juvey aren’t overtly political and talking about smashing the state doesn’t mean that there isn’t a political message in a lot (not all) of their music.

  12. faux_rillz Says:

    Wow–great analysis from Boots and I really respect the fact that he has been able to retain that perspective after a decade plus of commercial frustration.

  13. Bol Says:

    What’s this?


  14. Anonymous Says:


  15. noz Says:

    bol don’t be mad nashvilleradio.com didn’t pick up your feed.

  16. lemberg Says:

    but that stax groove is so damn tight,
    i don’t really care if booker t was white.

  17. emil Says:

    That was beautiful. Extremely well articulated and absolutely on-point. Magnificent. Thanks for transcribing, dude.


  18. Bol Says:

    Looks like your shit’s all over the place:


  19. noz Says:

    so weird

  20. pt3 Says:

    Came out feelin about 10 lbs lighter. Thanks for the post.

  21. Jay Smooth Says:

    I believe the female speaker was Kierna Mayo?

    Glad I’m not the only one who gets the John Bradleys..

  22. Eat My Shorts Says:

    bloggers defending other bloggers, does KRS stand a chance. Tell them to take that faux intellectual reasoning or whetver and go make a classic album then we can talk. Peace.

  23. Jose G. R. Says:

    You PM Dawn fans need shut the fuck up.

    Boots said nothing new, Busy Bee should’ve just stayed quiet, but stic.man recognized game when he acknowleged KRS was an O.G., so we should be listening in 2006.

    Who is Adisa to get on the level of KRS? Adisa deserved to get punked like that, so fuck him, he had it coming. Adisa wished he never came because he got castrated in front of everbody. Nice to know KRS will still beat that fuckin’ ass!

    If Boots is real about revolution, he needs to step it up after what KRS said the last half of part 2. That my friends, …is what is relevant to us now. Be a man and listen to it again.


  24. noz Says:

    it’s not about defending adisa or bloggers defending bloggers (really dudes you know i hate the blogospheres), i’ve never even heard of that guy before all this. it’s about KRS being accountable for his complete disrespect.

    To have a rapper, especially a so called elder statesman, screaming profanities, threatening violence and hijacking a public forum geared to positivity for his own bullshit personal grudge match is a worse look for hip hop than all the coke rap in the world.

    compare krs’ negativity to that to 3 6 at the oscars, who, to me, did a good job of conveying all the joy and positive energy that does come from rap music. so they rap about ignorant shit sometimes. rap is entertainment. it’s one thing to be an asshole on record, it’s another to be an asshole in person. it’s one thing to act ignorant on a song, it’s another to preach ignorance as a public speaker.

    And know that If Lil’ Wayne did the same thing at a hip hop conference you motherfuckers would be the first to jump down his throat. But because KRS has fooled you into believing that he’s some sort hip hop savior and not just a bitter washed up rapper, he should go unchecked.

    and please don’t bring that “if boots was real about revolution” shit. he’d what? threaten to beat up journalists who disagree with him? dissuade kids from furthering their education? argue over the appropriate spelling of the word “hip hop”? send nas to the moon?

  25. Le Says:

    thanks for posting this.Do you have any info for these types of things before they happen so we can attend these meetings too? Could you please hit me up on my email if you get the time,with any info on these types of discussion around the Bay.


  26. Le Says:

    listenin right now after Davey spoke and its now Busy B speakin and DAMN NY heads be feelin themselves HELLLLA much

  27. BR Says:

    “To have a rapper, especially a so called elder statesman, screaming profanities, threatening violence and hijacking a public forum geared to positivity for his own bullshit personal grudge match is a worse look for hip hop than all the coke rap in the world.”


  28. JB Says:

    “To have a rapper, especially a so called elder statesman, screaming profanities, threatening violence and hijacking a public forum geared to positivity for his own bullshit personal grudge match is a worse look for hip hop than all the coke rap in the world.”

    -That’s not true at all. That’s absolute rhetoric.

    I think this guy is referring to KRS’ remarks that went something like “What I wanna do is jump across this table and beat you fuckin’ ass.”

    1.) It wasn’t screamed at all. It was blunt, but there’s no screaming to be heard.

    2.)He was quite honest about what he “wanted” to do. That’s not even an implied threat. If’d he’d said “gonna” it’d be a different story. If he’d said something like, “yeah, and you bout to get yo ass dropped if you keep blah blah blah…” then you could at least have an implied threat. If you’ve never felt so angry that you felt like you’d like to just get up and smack the shit outta someone, then you’ve probably never left the house. It’s the restraint that matters.

    3.)He didn’t hijack the forum. He was interrupted seconds into his introductory comments. He continued to be interrupted time and time again; not the voice of a hijacker.

    4.)Even if all that was true, it compares in no way to said “coke rapper.” (Which there are plenty of). Cocaine has caused massive poverty and death in this country, not some guy getting upset at a table at Stanford.

    And no, if another rapper like “Lil Wayne” had done the same thing, noz’s article would read much different, if he even wrote one. God, imagine if Tupac had done something like that. It’d be the pro-black-radical event of the year. He’d be praised for speaking his mind. If you think not, you’re kidding yourself.

  29. Jose G. R. Says:

    the beef is squashed. Afrika Bambaataa had a meeting with the two on March 9. davey d sums it up best here… http://p076.ezboard.com/fpoliticalpalacefrm70.showMessage?topicID=188.topic

    KRS is still rockin’ shows and Adisa can’t sell a book. noz, congratulations on your first shock post.

  30. fuckem Says:

    Boots is full of shit. He just wants to shit on white rappers. No one talks about how great rap was in 88 because it was peaceful. It was beacause that shit was political, ie KRS (wtf?) and PE. Trick Daddy and Juvenile? Give me a fucking break. That was retarded. They are anytime more misogynistic and idiotic than most anything in the underground. He shouldn’t be calling out heads, he should be calling out corporations that set up people like juvenile as a modern day sambo so they can make a buck.

  31. noz Says:

    – “It wasn’t screamed at all. ”

    “YOU AN FBI AGENT” sounded like screaming to me.

    – “He was quite honest about what he
    “wanted” to do. That’s not even an implied threat. ”

    No that’s exactly what it is. Showing restraint would not getting into this pissing match in the first place.

    – “He didn’t hijack the forum. He was interrupted seconds into his introductory comments.”

    I’ll have to listen to the audio again (it’s not working for me now) but i’m pretty sure he was the one who called adisa out by name.

    – “Cocaine has caused massive poverty and death in this country, not some guy getting upset at a table at Stanford.”

    you are assuming “coke rap” directly causes cocaine use. which makes little sense because cocaine was *more* popular prior to the rise in rapping about it.

    – “He just wants to shit on white rappers. ”

    and where did anybody say anything about white rappers?

    – “No one talks about how great rap was in 88 because it was peaceful. It was beacause that shit was political”

    Yeah man EPMD was really dropping knowledge. And Dana Dane was poised to be the next malcolm, if only the corporations hadn’t brought his career to a halt.

    – “corporations that set up people like juvenile as a modern day sambo so they can make a buck.”

    this is the most ill informed i hate mainstream rap argument of them all. artists like juvenile have been rapping more or less in their same style while recording for successful community run businesses for several years prior to gaining recognition from the major label machine. if you honestly belief this modern day sambo talk then i guess that’s your perogative, but the paranoia subtext just doesn’t work.

    jose how was this a shock post? i’m clearly not the only person who felt krs’ behavior was inappropriate and crazy. don’t get mad because i dissed your hero.

  32. DJ ARM 18 Says:

    >>send nas to the moon?

  33. DJ ARM 18 Says:

    “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs — jolted by every pebble in the road.”

    Thank you, noz, for your levity…

  34. joshua rubin Says:

    hey noz –
    just a small thing. but about in the middle of your transcription, i think it should be: “There has to be reason why we’re under the oppression that we’re under…”

  35. Jose G. R. Says:

    dude, Bol even dropped by here! it was funny though… I’m just saying (like alot of us are) KRS ain’t one of the bad guys, nuff said.

  36. zoneil Says:

    damn, i was supposed to go to this event too. fuck, i missed out. on a side not, i chopped it up with Boots a couple weeks back. Here’s the trimmed transcription: http://www.popandpolitics.com/articles_detail.cfm?articleID=1747

  37. Furious Styles Says:

    Kudos on the positive insites into the situation. I’m glad this situation has calmed down and you have chose to show some light. Everyone loves gossip and some beef, but Boots, Davey D and others brought up some good points.

    I just wish Boots would get E-40 or Rick Rock on his album, so his message was heard on the streets of East Oakland and East Palo Alto, by the kids he’s talking to.

  38. cherryl Says:

    thanks for doing this. i will listen to the whole audio. love this blog…thanks again – c

  39. XXLmag.com | Hip-Hop On A Higher Level | » Dilla Did It Says:

    […] few years back, in a roundtable discussion held at Stanford, The Coup’s Boots Riley suggested that the conscious rap label is more a reflection of […]

  40. sheaserrano Says:

    lets face it black people are all backwards! have you BEEN to a fleamarket lately? FACE IT!

  41. AK Says:

    Man, you had some weak-ass real-hip-hop guys commenting on your shit five years ago…

  42. Thermos Says:

    I miss the cocaineblunts comment section. Fuck Tumblr.

    John Bradley’s first post is incredible. I couldn’t imagine a more complete illustration of what Boots was trying to point out.

  43. cerealrecords Says:

    WHO WATCHIN IN 2016 oh wait

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