Hip hop artists, black activists host forum
Nationally known rappers and black activists will discuss today whether hip-hop is the reason for the destruction of the black community.
Houston rappers Pimp C, Scarface, Lil Flip with activist rapper M1 from Dead Prez and Quanell X will join UH alumna and University of Pittsburg professor Nicole Assata Richards to debate the issue at 7 p.m. in the Houston Room, University Center.
"If we look at the history of how the community started, we came out of an economic system of exploitation, which then developed into Jim Crow segregation," Richards said. "The problems in the community began before hip hop emerged."
Hip-hop started in the underground scene, but now "corporate America" has taken interest and "corrupted" it, Richards said.
"Hip hop is a culture, not just lyrics on a track. People need to reclaim hip hop for themselves," he said. "They need to go back to the basements, to the studios with the DJs, with the break-dancing, with the MCs – bring all those elements back (to) revitalize. We need to take it to a newer and more significant level."
Rap artist M-1 blames capitalism for the destruction of the black community.
"It’s not the rappers’ fault. It’s America," M-1 said. "It’s imperialism that is responsible for the destruction of the black community under the guise of hip hop, which has been used as a vehicle to promote some of the ideals in the world that are most negative and destructive."
M-1 said the "ruling class" determines what hip-hop will sound like and continues to push its own agenda onto the community.
Richards disagrees and said rappers do share some of the responsibility with the public, but not all.
"Artists are a victim of a capitalist society, where the individual cares only for himself," Richards said.
M-1 said socially critical music is less commercially successful and producing this kind of music leads to an undereducated story.
"People don’t have faith in (socially conscious) music and don’t even think to say the things from our heart that really matter – that’s the problem with the music." M-1 said. "The heart is gone. We are left with what we think will sell. We are, for all instances and purposes, the same as a stock broker on the market bidding for what we think will sell the most, and we have sold our soul and culture with it."
The key is supporting independent, local hip-hop artists to move the sound to where it used to be, Richards said.
"Chamillionaire is trying to do something progressive. We might not like everything that he is doing but we see that he is focused on his issues, which are more important than simply talking about how much money he has."
The debate is hosted by the New Black Panther Nation, the Black Student Network and the Sankofa Pan-African Student Organization. Other speakers will include Ariel Brinkley from Sankofa and Jasmine Pope, a representative from the Texas Southern University’s Student Government Association.
"If you are interested – love hip-hop, hate it or if you’re not sure how you feel – this is a good discussion to attend," said history senior Niki Williams, who is also the program director for Sankofa Pan-African Student Organization.