Hip-hop doesn’t care about George Bush?

The hip-hop-has-lost-its-heart-and-soul routine is old news, to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. It remains the preferred stance of the psuedo-liberals and radicals—also known as The Positivity Police—who get a kick out of scolding rappers for rhyming about frivolous things like grills and strippers when there’s more important things going on, gotdammit. All this self-righteous hoopla is rehashed in the press time and time again, and manages to filter down to everyone from university professors (who fancy themselves experts on hip-hop), to aging hippie music critics, to everyman cab drivers. (a) It gets on my last nerve.

This premise popped up yet again in an MTV news article on protest music today, from the mouth of seasoned activist/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello no less.(b)  Morello argues that hip-hip has been an “enormous letdown” when it comes to protest music.

“It’s like Public Enemy and N.W.A were warring for the heart of the hip-hop nation, and a gentrified, blingy version of N.W.A. won out,” he said. “You listen to [Public Enemy’s] ‘Fight the Power’ and It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, and you can hear America changing. Now it’s just the relentless booty shake of hollow bling.”

In my view, this is a tad extreme. Morello misses the fact that hip-hop has pretty consistently spoken out against the war and the Bush administration. Granted, there’s nothing like a coherent movement. There have been many different approaches and many different agendas—from Diddy, to Russell Simmons, to dead prez, to Kanye, to the National Hip-Hop Political Convention. But as a whole, hip-hop has been almost unanimous in its distain for the president and his policies. (c) Hip-hop hasn’t managed to kick Bush out of office, it’s true, but then neither has anyone else.

Here are some of top hip-hop protest tracks from the last few years:

K-Otix “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
“Makin’ a killin’ off the price of gas/ He would have been up in Connecticut twice as fast”

Nas “Rule”
“Cause everybody wants a shot in this land of opportunity/Look at what this country’s got/There shouldn’t be nobody homeless/How can the president fix other problems when he ain’t fixed home yet?”

J-Live “Satisfied”
“It ain’t right them cops and them firemen died/That shit is real tragic, but it damn sure ain’t magic/It won’t make the brutality disappear/It won’t pull equality from behind your ear/It won’t make a difference in a two-party country/If the president cheats to win another four years”

dead prez “Know Your Enemy”
“You wanna stop terrorists?/Start with the U.S. imperialists/Ain’t no track record like America’s/See Bin Laden was trained by the CIA/But I guess if you a terrorist for the U.S. then it’s okay” 

Eminem “Mosh”
“Someone’s trying to tell us something/Maybe this is God just sayin’ we’re responsible/ For this monster, this coward/That we have empowered”

Talib Kweli “The Proud”
“The President is Bush, the Vice President’s a Dick/So a whole lot of fuckin’ is what we gon’ get”

Mr. Lif “Home of the Brave”
“But when he realized we don’t support their attacks/They needed something to distract, hmm, anthrax/This further demonizes Afghanis/So Americans cheer while we kill their innocent families/And what better place to start a war/To build a pipeline to get the oil that they had wanted before”

Mos Def  “The Katrina Klap”
“You better off on crack, dead or in jail, or with a gun in Iraq/And it’s as simple as that”

________________________________

(a) The new variation on this theme is that international hip-hop captures the spirit of ‘true hip-hop,’ whereas American hip-hop is all about ‘bling.’ As I’ve said before, reducing global hip-hop to one catch-all tag line is both ridiculous and insulting to the individuality of everyone involved in the thousands of scenes around the world. Also, as an aside, it would be a giant relief if people actually stopped using the word bling. For real.

(b) Not trying to suggest that Morello, who I respect, gets a kick out of scolding rappers. Just that his comments will surely be used as ammo by those who do.

(c) The exception being 50 Cent.

  • Belize

    good article….truthfully if ICE CUBE’s new politcal album gets the push it eserves, maybe hip hop goes back to its revolutionary form…i mean it should, cuz Vibe gave it 4/5, so did the source, and so did XXL.. wait…hold a sec….no they didnt…they shitted on it…hey there goes the music we like down the drain…thanks XXL! Now take 50′s money

  • FIDDY

    I didnt give them money, Jimmy did!

  • Mrs Damian Marley

    They can only respond to what they hear. True we need diverse types of hip hop but when all BET and the radio gives the kids is sex and bling that’s all they know. I’m an vet in the hip hop world and I can remember a time when we had NWA, Public Enemy,Poor Righteous Teachers and Humpty Hump. Now all we have is the same nigga with a different name making the same songs over and over. Like Dead Prez, I’m revolutionary AND gansta, I also enjoy a nice party jam or just a silly song, but mix it up

  • http://www.myspace.com/lone_Nigerian lone Nigerian

    i love that talib kweli line

  • eauhellzgnaw

    I can’t stand the revisionist positivity police either, but isn’t it a problem that all of these songs suck?

  • Paul

    hip hop is over. it’s corny to admit you listen to it. We should all learn how to read books.

  • Incilin

    Although I appericate the way you defend hip hop (Unlike Bryon Cawford who always has a problem with … everything) I can’t agree with you. You point out little lines from a few songs. Unlike the way Public Enemy, NWA, and Tom Morello’s former band Rage Against The Machine who used to put out whole albums on politics. But if anything, I gota admit that hip hop has lost the rebellious mood and replaced it with corporate sentiment. By the way, my college professor swears he a hip hop expert too.

  • daesonesb

    >>Granted, there’s nothing like a coherent movement.

    Damn right.
    If you are comparing hip hop to the protest movement in pop culture during the vietnam war … the protest song is non-existent.

    We are talking about popular rap. Not mr. fucking Lif. Granted, Dead Prez, the Coup, Immortal Technique all take shots at Bush …

    Name me one Hip Hop single that did near as well as Edwin Starr’s “War,” or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s goin on?” Fuck, even that redneck anthem “Born in the USA” is politically concious if you look closer.

    The closest thing is mosh, and that song got spins for hmmmmmmmmmmmm about three weeks.

    The ratio of “I love my Jewelry made of conflict diamonds” songs vs. real protest songs in hip hop is about 1,000,000 to one.

    The stark fact is that no art form has been so intrinsically linked to materialism and wealth as modern rap. Not even Disco. Prove me wrong Tara.

  • daesonesb

    I’d say hip hop has been much more unified in its political apathy than it has in its disdain of Bush.

  • daesonesb

    >>They can only respond to what they hear. True we need diverse types of hip hop but when all BET and the radio gives the kids is sex and bling that’s all they know.

    I call Bullshit there too. The first wave of bling bling rappers all grew up in rap’s so called golden age. Diddy, Nelly, fuck even nas and jay z alot of the time… these cats all are infatuated with wealth and crystal champagne. They grew up with public enemy and rakim.

    Your generation had the proper grounding, and you STILL fucked up!

  • THA YOUNG NIGGA WIT GAME

    WHEN NWA MADE FUCK THA POLICE IT WAS A CRY OUT THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMNET WERE AFRAID TO SAY.WE HAVE BEEN BEGGING FOR YEARS AND NIGGAS HAD TO SAY FUCK IT WE STANDING UP AND IT WAS HOW PEOPLE REALY FELT.YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT THE WHITE MAN HAS PLANNED OUT EVIL SHIT FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.THINK ABOUT IT IF HE DID NOT WANT US TO READ WHAT MAKES YOU THINK HE IS GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT WHY ITS A WAR AND THERS A SPACE SHUTTLE THE MUTHA FUCKAS PLANNING ON BIGGER SHIT THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.

  • THA PIMP

    WHEN NWA MADE FUCK THA POLICE IT WAS A CRY OUT THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMNET WERE AFRAID TO SAY.WE HAVE BEEN BEGGING FOR YEARS AND NIGGAS HAD TO SAY FUCK IT WE STANDING UP AND IT WAS HOW PEOPLE REALY FELT.YOU HAVE TO REALIZE THAT THE WHITE MAN HAS PLANNED OUT EVIL SHIT FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS.THINK ABOUT IT IF HE DID NOT WANT US TO READ WHAT MAKES YOU THINK HE IS GOING TO TELL YOU ABOUT WHY ITS A WAR AND THERS A SPACE SHUTTLE THE MUTHA FUCKAS PLANNING ON BIGGER SHIT THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE.

  • mathew

    black men are too ignrant to think beyond rims and traps or woteva they call them, yeah, lets stay in the slums forever. we’ll neva learn.thats why ive neva bought a 50 cent album.

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    @daesonesb — you keep going on about mainstream hip-hop, but I don’t think Morello was getting at that side. And to be honest, his mainstream group, Audioslave, isn’t doing the same shit RATM was doing, so who is he to talk?

    I’m surprised Chuck D didn’t big up Paris, who has never budged, and wrote the last PE album!

    Truth be told, though, protest music doesn’t turn into billboard status, which is what most of these niggas are looking for. I also feel weird when Cam calls himself Bush and shit… just sounds odd. Do I wish there was more protest music in the mainstream? Not really… I’m good with where things are right now. It’s not like the right people would listen to it anyways.

  • Mrs Damian Marley

    daesonesb- apparently you only read a part of my response. I never said there was anything wrong with wealth. What I said was, mix it up, show all aspects from bling, to revolution, to gangsta, to party. Not every song, every video having the same thing

  • suzan

    im glad im not the only one who feels this way.

  • busta rhymes

    Busta Rhymes is on the cover of XXL. Who’s next? Trina?

  • taiski

    yes, all you’re right…hiphop in the USA is… lucky there’s the rest of the planet, where hiphop was understood… ah, yes, i forgot, americans dont understand foreign languages, most of them dont even know where other countries are… uff, lucky me, me says… at on top of that, us non-americans listen to loads of hiphop from the states, but those groups/artist will NEVER be mentioned in XXL or similar… genuine RAP does still exist (even in USA), it just hasnt got anything to do with 50,etc etc….THIS is only business, with or without bling.

  • NsaniT

    Excellent Post, Excellent songs but you forgot the Just Blaze/Green Lantern produced “Impeach The President” which features dead prez, immortal technique and saigon. Who by the way all hate bush more then road rage drivers at a exxon :)

  • allnice

    Good post, good choice of songs too. You need to stick to topics like this and stay away from getting into gender stuff. You will definitely get more props. Other than that, I feel like rap is always going to be political and anarchistic because most rap acts are coming from the straight gutter. The only cat you left out was Immortal Technique and he is the most political rapper out now besides dead prez and a few more obscure underground cats. But over all, good blog post.

  • TARA

    Lil Wayne “Georgia…Bush”

    http://www.xxlmag.com/?p=1806

  • rec

    eauhellzgnaw Says:
    May 17th, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    I can’t stand the revisionist positivity police either, but isn’t it a problem that all of these songs suck?
    ^^
    co-sign, great artists…not so great songs
    “Rap about big paper, or the black man plight” – Nas

  • jonjon–23

    I’m all for conscious rap but there’s one small problem–It won’t consistently sell. There are only a handfull of artist able to make conscious rap that appealed to the masses. X Clan, Public Enemy, KRS 1, and Paris. Out of those four only P.E. went platinum on a regular basis. White’s own the vehicle to drive rap on a national level and we are being brainwashed daily to think that being in jail, sexing everything that moves, and using drugs and alcohol is cool. White kids listen to rap too but most view it as party music, most don’t pattern their lives after it as a lot of blacks do.

  • aryana

    Start the revolution

  • Ing Boss

    These rappers in main stream are all talkin bout the same shyt. Drugs, sex, hustlin, jail, rims, and diamonds and tellin you how much they shyt cost. Man a nygga outta katrina aint tryin to hear how much yo shyt cost. It’s a million rappers sayin the same shyt and bout 10 sayin real shyt. Just cuz u talkin bout killing someone doesn’t make you real, it makes you stupid. They are in a position to change the way our teens think and percieve things, and yet they feed them with this BS, that I’m sure half of them haven’t even seen. Second BET is the worst shyt that could have happened to black people, cuz all they do is show Azz, azz and more azz, but will bleep out the word gunz, fart, shit, etc… IT’S A BIG JOKE AND TO DEFEND THESE NIGGAZ WHEN ITZ CLEAR HALF OF THEM ARE SELFISH AND AREN’T HALF OF THE PEOPLE THAT THEY CLAIM TO BE, IS FUCCING RETARTED.

  • Gettn’ Money In 06

    Fuck Bush

  • Real Talk

    United States Is Run By Israel. Check this out if you want to know the shocking truth http://www.nogw.com/ilrunshow.html

  • BuddyPC

    K-Otix “George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People”
    “Makin’ a killin’ off the price of gas/ He would have been up in Connecticut twice as fast”

    Premium Gas 3.56 /gallon in CT this past Tue (11/30/10)
    Stupid ObamaCo makin’ a killin’ off the price of gas for his oil cronies.

    So much for “The Black CNN.” As relevant as the original CNN.