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robertogreco : icecube   3

Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop | Los Angeles | Artbound | KCET
[See also: http://www.returnofthemecca.com ]

"To most people, when you say "Islam and hip-hop," they will look at you a bit surprised. To most, Islam is viewed as being pre-modern and anti-Western, with a strict, puritanical code that is also anti-pleasure, while to most people, hip-hop is viewed as the exact opposite: it's decadent, rampantly materialistic, hyper-sexual and hedonistic. But if you peel back the layers (or barely scratch beneath the surface), that initial look of surprise will soon turn to awe. Because not only is Islam a part of hip-hop culture, it's central to its very foundation. Harry Allen, hip-hop journalist and Public Enemy's "Media Assassin" has said that "if hip-hop has an official religion it is Islam."

Los Angeles has its own specific histories around Islam and hip-hop -- from the presence of artists such as Kam, Jurassic 5 and Divine Styler, to a May 2001 benefit show at the Watts Labor Community Action Center for Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), which featured Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Zion I and others.

But arguably the most significant moment was when Ice Cube, who had just left N.W.A., teamed up with Public Enemy's production unit the Bomb Squad, to record his first solo album, "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" (1990). The combination of Ice Cube with Public Enemy was incendiary -- a volatile mix that combined Cube's militant street poetry with Public Enemy's Black Nationalist fury.

In the exhibit catalog to Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, Chuck D writes that this was the period following the release of their anthem "Fight the Power" and that "this alliance of Cube and Public Enemy was a show of Black and rap unity that the powers that be feared may ring the alarm and spin the youth away from being lured into stupor and sleep."

And indeed it did. For this was a period in hip-hop when political consciousness raising was central to the music's mission, as ideas about Afrocentricity, Black Nationalism and most notably Islam deeply influenced the culture. And not surprisingly, Malcolm X would become the icon of hip-hop, as his books were read, his voice was sampled, his ideas were referenced, and his influence shaped ideas about Black resilience and resistance. Malcolm's influence would culminate in Spike Lee's 1992 biopic of him, as "X" caps, and Malcolm merchandise became all the rage.

But more than just the popularity of his "By Any Means Necessary" slogan, or the circulation of symbols and the iconography of him, Malcolm's resurgence in urban America beginning in the mid-1980s and into the early 1990's also spoke to the profound disillusionment of Black youth in the post-Civil Rights era. This was hip-hop's "Golden Age," and through the legacy of Malcolm, it was deeply influenced by Islam, as seminal artists as diverse as Rakim, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, the Wu-Tang Clan and others carried on a long standing protest tradition in which Islam influenced Black art and culture -- from Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, to its influence on jazz (Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef, etc.) and the Black Arts Movement.

By the time Cube was collaborating with them, Public Enemy had already been vocal supporters of the Nation of Islam, but it was Chuck D's baritone voice, his deeply informed lyricism, and his brilliant songwriting that made Public Enemy the standard bearers when it comes to revolutionary hip-hop, even to this day.

Ice Cube's work with Public Enemy on "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" proved to be a turning point, as Cube would continue to weave the ideas of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam into his albums, infusing his music with political urgency and biting social critique, from his magnum opus "Death Certificate" (1991) to "The Predator" (1992) and "Lethal Injection"(1993). Cube's music proved prophetic in many ways, as a closer listening to his first two solo albums add support to his claim that he in fact rang the alarm about what would become the L.A. Rebellion of 1992 in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

By the mid-1990's, at about the time that Cube's career path took a serious turn toward the world of film, hip-hop was increasingly becoming the soundtrack to 21st century capitalism. No longer being compared to the previous generations of Black artistic genius, hip-hop instead was being compared to itself, as the "Golden Age" is constantly being held up as the standard and beacon for hip-hop's own potential in the face of hyper-commodification.

In these demands for hip-hop to get back to its roots, what is often overlooked and understated is not only the extent to which Islam played a vital role in politicizing the music and shaping the politics and culture of early hip-hop, but how it has continued to do that even today through artists such as Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Lupe Fiasco, Jay Electronica, and others. This is partly what "Return of the Mecca" hopes to begin to redress, that through the songs, album covers, photos, flyers and poetry, these histories that too often go unseen are made visible. And that despite the post-9/11 context that has tried to silence these histories and separate Blackness and Islam, these powerful histories are a testament to legacies of struggle that need to be urgently understood and reflected upon."
hiphop  music  history  islam  sohaildaulatzai  2014  publicenemy  harryallen  jurassic5  kam  divinestyler  mosdef  talibkweli  dilatedpeoples  zioni  nwa  icecube  bombsquad  1990s  chuckd  spikelee  malcolmx  atribecalledquest  bigdaddykane  brandnubian  poorrighteousteachers  wu-tangclan  rakim  gangstarr 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America -- Vulture
"There are three famous quotes that haunt me and guide me though my days. The first is from John Bradford, the 16th-century English reformer. In prison for inciting a mob, Bradford saw a parade of prisoners on their way to being executed and said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” (Actually, he said “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford,” but the switch to the pronoun makes it work for the rest of us.) The second comes from Albert Einstein, who disparagingly referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” And for the third, I go to Ice Cube, the chief lyricist of N.W.A., who delivered this manifesto in “Gangsta Gangsta” back in 1988: “Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.

Those three ideas may seem distant from one another, but if you set them up and draw lines between them, that’s triangulation. Bradford’s idea, of course, is about providence, about luck and gratitude: You only have your life because you don’t have someone else’s. At the simplest level, I think about that often. I could be where others are, and by extension, they could be where I am. You don’t want to be insensible to that. You don’t want to be an ingrate. (By the by, Bradford’s quote has come to be used to celebrate good fortune — when people say it, they’re comforting themselves with the fact that things could be worse — but in fact, his own good fortune lasted only a few years before he was burned at the stake.)

Einstein was talking about physics, of course, but to me, he’s talking about something closer to home — the way that other people affect you, the way that your life is entangled in theirs whether or not there’s a clear line of connection. Just because something is happening to a street kid in Seattle or a small-time outlaw in Pittsburgh doesn’t mean that it’s not also happening, in some sense, to you. Human civilization is founded on a social contract, but all too often that gets reduced to a kind of charity: Help those who are less fortunate, think of those who are different. But there’s a subtler form of contract, which is the connection between us all.

And then there’s Ice Cube, who seems to be talking about life’s basic appetites — what’s under the lid of the id — but is in fact proposing a world where that social contract is destroyed, where everyone aspires to improve themselves and only themselves, thoughts of others be damned. What kind of world does that create?

Those three ideas, Bradford’s and Einstein’s and Cube’s, define the three sides of a triangle, and I’m standing in it with pieces of each man: Bradford’s rueful contemplation, Einstein’s hair, Ice Cube’s desires. Can the three roads meet without being trivial? This essay, and the ones that follow it, will attempt to find out. I’m going to do things a little differently, with some madness in my method. I may not refer back to these three thinkers and these three thoughts, but they’re always there, hovering, as I think through what a generation of hip-hop has wrought. And I’m not going to handle the argument in a straight line. But don’t wonder too much when it wanders. I’ll get back on track."



"So what if hip-hop, which was once a form of upstart black-folk music, came to dominate the modern world? Isn’t that a good thing? It seems strange for an artist working in the genre to be complaining, and maybe I’m not exactly complaining. Maybe I’m taking a measure of my good fortune. Maybe. Or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. Maybe domination isn’t quite a victory. Maybe everpresence isn’t quite a virtue."



"Back to John Bradford for a moment: I’m lucky to be here. That goes without saying, but I’ll say it. Still, as the Roots round into our third decade, we shoulder a strange burden, which is that people expect us to be both meaningful and popular. We expect that. But those things don’t necessarily work together, especially in the hip-hop world of today. The winners, the top dogs, make art mostly about their own victories and the victory of their genre, but that triumphalist pose leaves little room for anything else. Meaninglessness takes hold because meaninglessness is addictive. People who want to challenge this theory point to Kendrick Lamar, and the way that his music, at least so far, has some sense of the social contract, some sense of character. But is he just the exception that proves the rule? Time will tell. Time is always telling. Time never stops telling."
questlove  hiphop  music  culture  history  meaning  2014  relevance  race  us  johnbradford  icecube  via:timcarmody  alberteinstein  sullendominant 
april 2014 by robertogreco
MURK AVENUE, I FOUND ICE CUBES 'GOOD DAY'
"CLUE 1:
     “went to short dogs house,
       they was watching Yo MTV
       RAPS”
Yo MTV RAPS first aired:
               Aug 6th 1988
CLUE 2:
Ice Cubes single “today was a good day” released on:
               Feb 23 1993
CLUE 3:
      ”The Lakers beat the Super 
       Sonics”
Dates between Yo MTV Raps air date AUGUST 6 1988 and the release of the single FEBRUARY 23 1993 where the Lakers beat the Super Sonics: …"
losangeles  lakers  yomtvraps  nationalgooddayday  1992  goodday  humor  music  hiphop  sleuthing  rap  icecube 
january 2012 by robertogreco

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