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King Solomon’s Rhymz and Street Psalmz: New Horizons in the
« on: January 18, 2009, 10:46:46 PM »
King Solomon’s Rhymz and Street Psalmz: New Horizons in the Power and Wisdom of Hip hop


Festus Ikeotuonye


“Wealth is a state in a mental debate; it’s all in the fate. Plant seeds then you wait…Be patient, backwards glories found…When the ancient are the living, stay down. Kings sport ya crown, queen sport ya crown. Jah brings light, now the cipher goes round” Zion I

My previous piece on Hip-hop provoked some interesting criticisms, insights, thoughts and responses (via email) but some people remained skeptical due to the power the mainstream image of Hip hop still exert on the popular minds and imagination. Even “rappers” themselves fall victim to that same “misinformation” that inspired arch-insurgent Lauryn Ugwu aka Lauryn Hill to kick the “preacher’s son” in his “Fugees” – “how you gon’ win if you ain’t right within” she asked? Oh! I must confess that I really like Lauryn Ugwu for having the guts to “piss in the wine” of fame and for “defecating on the microphone” of those “imitating Al Capone”. We all know she’s got the gift of the garb – a true “maroon” griot and psalmist that shunned the mainstream minstrel show and even rubbed off the ointment of the great Bob Marley. Lauryn Hill is the true image of Hip hop not the “misinformation” in the media.

Contrary to the available evidence, many continue to associate Hip hop with social problems that have existed long before Hip hop emerged. Some even insist on the ridiculous idea that “street gangs” or “mobsters” didn’t exist until Hip hop “was well underway”. If we accept this view, then, “Mob Deep” probably used a time machine to go back in time to inspire “Don” Vito Genovese. Was Salvatore Lucania aka Charles \"Lucky\" Luciano also corrupted by Snoop Dogg’s “pimp limp”? Those that make the former argument should read about New York in the 1920s and 30s. But as Chris Rock said: if it is “white”, it is probably “alright”.

The other popular argument that equates Hip hop with misogynism, inner city violence and narcotics is almost laughable if one looks at the evidence. I remember when some people used to believe that Ozzy Osborn and “Black Sabbath” “worshipped the devil”. But the Osborn Show on MTV (not the horror channel) proved all that silly notions wrong. Rappers merely reflect the “school boy” sexism that exists in society any way. Drugs and the associated violence exist because there is a “market” for them not because somebody made a “dope” beat with Akai’s MPC and put “parental discretion is advised” lyrics over the beat.

Hip hop is not the “what\'cha know about” lyrical content of a “dirty south” album or the “one track mind and one black nine” hoarse renditions of a poor soul sodomized in prison. Hip hop is simply an outlet – a vent – for those “gutter” sentiments (whether real or imagined) not the generator or even “governator”.   Hip hop insiders remember that long before Hip hop became main-street currency, Afrika Bambaataa transformed the street gang the “Black Spades” into the music and culture oriented “Universal Zulu Nation” after returning from a pilgrimage to the mother land like arch-insurgent Dave Chappelle.

Bambaataa’s conversion after a “spiritual”  visit to Africa, demonstrates that Hip hop have been an outlet for the confused pent up anger “gangs” rely on rather than a stimulus for gang “activity” or membership. Gangs are simply a perversion of the family, clan or kindred unit that often happens to uprooted or traumatized people. The Sicilians who migrated to American early in the 20th century are a good example. So, it is hardly surprising that the “mob units” or conglomerates called themselves “families”. In other words, it is rather silly to suggest that Hip hop somehow manufactures things that were around a hundred years ago. But as we all know, entrenched beliefs built up over time, and reinforced by mass pressure, are hard to shake loose because they are liked a rusted nail on a rusted metal – if you use a “blunt instrument”, “something will have to give……….  believe!”

Most people associate Hip-hop with what they see on “TeeVee” and other mass media. They wallow in the ostentatious exaggerations of the mainstream minstrel shows and ignore the formula the minstrel shows are feeding on. Hip hop has survived many trends and fashions within my own life time. I remember when rappers were “lovers”, “princes”, “dope”, “fresh”, “cool”, “cold” and “ice”. I also witnessed when rappers became “rough and tough and all that stuff”, “fools”, “Gs”, “gangstaz”, “pimpz”, “playaz”, “pornstaz”, “hustlers” and “goons”. Many of these “rappers” on MTV today “talking a good game” were probably swimming around in liquid form in somebody’s OPP when “Naughty by Nature” was on “TeeVee”.

Remember when “Puff Daddy” and “Mace” thought “it won’t stop”? Well, it did…

Jay Z might be shifty but in the end, it is Hip hop that is nifty not Fiddy. Many rappers have moved on to “acting” (which is where they truly belong) or selling Mobile phones like (MC Hammer), jewelries, tennis shoes, t-shirts (better “rock” on their wrist, neck and teeth than “rock” in the Ziploc).

Main stream Rappers always talk of “falling off” because deep down they know that the “platform” is temporary. “Underground” rappers talk about “unplugging from the matrix” because they know that “he who is down fears no fall”. But each one of them drink from the Hip hop waterfall with only thoughts of building a wall around the fall. That is why when I tell them the igbo Hip hopper “77” was busting rhymz in igbo language long before “2pac”, they laugh and claim I need a total recall.

The Audacity of “Hos”

However, it is true that Li’l Wayne was too “short” to play basket ball and too “small” for baseball (the only real job options in the hood). Despite the odds, and thanks to Hip-hop, today and every day, Wayne “ball”. Without Hip hop no “licking like a lollipop” for poor Wayne, no mix tapes, no fame, no money. Funny how quite true it is that ex-convicts have very little chance of “making it” in the same mainstream societies (that produced them) but again thanks to Hip hop, “ex-cons”, drug dealers and “goons” now have “legit” jobs, pay taxes and get their “freak on” on clean sheets instead of dirty “broke azz” ghetto mattresses. We all know that ghetto mattresses are unique because they are actually museums of “natural history”.

I have seen one with rat “cum stains” from the slave trade era. A friend of mine once said that he used to sleep in one of those “dirty” mattresses – he swore that the “cops” amongst ghetto rats and cockroaches use the mattress as background for mug shots. The problem is that many of these brothers and sisters were conceived in a ghetto dirty mattress, figuratively of course. But with “jobs” from Hip hop, it may be harder to catch brothers “ridin’ dirty” (or they might get good lawyers), so, at least they stay out of jail long enough to be fathers to their sons on clean sheets. And then, their sons can then make a “movie” about “biggie” without “getting high” or “drinking 40s”.

Thankfully, the offspring’s of such Hip hop “jobs”, conceived on cleaner sheets and better environments may start aspiring for better things than becoming “third world visa/permit hos”, “hos” on “poles” or the boring clichéd “autistic”, “dyslexic” gun holder of “vagabond sociology” and mainstream “hood rat” rap. Hip hop spin-offs and money trickles down from the beat makers, to writers, publishers, film editors, computer technicians to entourages, “security”, club owners, “fixers” etc. So, at least middle class people won’t worry about “yobs”, “crime” and youth “gangs” so much anymore apart from the slightly irritating issue of “Malibu’s most wanted”. But perhaps, we will never have to put up with “mentally challenged” politicians using the fear of crime to get into important positions.

Almost everybody these days accept that Hip hop have contributed immensely to elevating poor Africans caught in the grids of power structures they don’t even know exist. However, this elevation is breaking into new horizons. According to ABC News “In Senegal, Hip-Hop Artists Have Gained Exceptional Political Influence” – Hip hop, “exceptional political influence”?

Remember what Fidel Castro said about Hip-hop after his initial misgiving about “American capitalist mass pop culture”. After he was seduced by the poetry of the “moneros” and “raperos”, Castro declared that Hiphop was the \"vanguard of the Revolution\". Cuba is interesting because in Cuba, Hiphop is genuinely pan African – true to the roots. Groups like the Orishas clearly celebrate African traditional religions that have survived in syncretic forms in South America.

In America, for instance, who is referred to as the “Hip-Hop Candidate”? If you are not sure, just google the phrase “Hip-Hop Candidate”. Now, let’s get back to that word “political influence”. Why did ABC NEWs claim that Hip-hop artists have gained “exceptional” political influence in Senegal, West Africa? Are the griots coming back? Funny thing is; they are going global!!!! No? Google the name of any country in the world with “Hip hop” as prefix and view the result and then ask yourself: what other cultural phenomenon today can boast of such cross cultural penetration without military conquest, hell-bent evangelists, oil companies, missionaries, “aid” agencies and agents, political and economic “hit men” or institutional propaganda?

Still skeptical? Go to and see what Hip hop is doing in the African grassroots.

One Example of the Power of Hiphop

Read on....

Where Hip-Hop Brought Down a Government

In Senegal, Hip-Hop Artists Have Gained Exceptional Political Influence


DAKAR, Senegal, Sept. 1, 2008 —

In a country where journalists are banned from saying or writing what they want, hip-hop artists have stepped up to speak for those who can\'t.
Moussa Lo, a.k.a. Waterflow, is one of Senegal\'s most famous hip-hop artists.

He said he became a hip-hop singer not for success or his own glory, but to be \"the voice of the voiceless.\"
\"Hip-hop in Africa needs to grow,\" Waterflow told ABC News, \"because we are the journalists for the people.\"
While Senegal\'s daily papers praise the government\'s action  new roads being built for a recent summit, urban renovations -- Waterflow denounces the corruption and the poverty that plague his country.
\"Most people,\" he said, \"the masses, don\'t have everything they [need] to live a normal life. They don\'t have running water, often they don\'t have electricity.\"

With more than 2,500 groups that enjoy increasing popularity, the hip-hop scene has gained exceptional political influence.
\"Senegal, for the past 10 or 15 years, is really one of the best examples of how hip-hop can be used not just to create jobs, but also for political action,\" said DJ Magee, a New York-based produced who with Nomadic Wax records put together a documentary called \"Democracy in Senegal.\"
Many political observers agree that hip-hop artists influenced voters to oust President Abdou Diouf in 2000, who had been in power for almost 20 years, and elect President Abdulaye Wade.
\"The election of 2000,\" said DJ Magee, \"is the only known case in the world in which hip-hop has been seen as one of the main reasons behind the change of regime.\"

Wade\'s election prompted great hope in Senegal, especially among young people who thought that poverty would finally be reduced.
But according to Waterflow, with Wade at the helm, the country\'s economic and social situation has not improved.
Waterflow, along with other hip-hop artists, have lost faith in the politicians they helped get into power.
\"There was so much hope that Wade would bring hope,\" said DJ Magee, \"and that was crushed.\"

So now, Waterflow and others see hip-hop artists as the only new political force able to drive the country and defend the deprived. He says the hip-hop community has a mission to cheer up the Senegalese people and help them stand up for their rights.
\"We need to wake up,\" said Waterflow, \"Senegal, please stand up.\"
\"I believe it\'s the people who can change the Senegal,\" he said, \"not the political leaders.\" Poverty and unemployment are endemic in Senegal. Every year, young people flee the country and put their lives in jeopardy just to try their luck in Europe. They often spend fortunes in trying to reach the Canary Islands illegally onboard fishing boats.

Some are found washed-up dead on the Senegalese coast after their small vessels were overturned by raging seas.
\"For them, it\'s an attempt to escape,\" said DJ Magee, \"very much like the people who flee Cuba for the U.S.\"

But even for the Senegalese who make it safely to Spain, Italy or France, Europe is no dreamland.
Senegalese immigrants are often forced to work illegal and menial jobs.
According to Waterflow, many Senegalese who emigrated to Europe now wish they could go back, but they don\'t, simply because they are ashamed not to have established themselves in the West.
Like many young people in Senegal from a modest upbringing, Waterflow and his crew Wageble had a dream.

But instead of giving up, or trying their luck in foreign lands, they stayed in their home country to show that they could make their dreams come true in Senegal.
\"Wageble is an amazing group,\" said DJ Magee. \"They really walk the walk. They practice what they preach.\"
\"It is amazing to see how much they have done for their neighborhood, Thiaroye Azur.\"
\"We want to show to the Senegalese youth,\" said Waterflow, \"that even when you come from a very like poor place in Africa, you can be someone else, you know, you can like, travel around the world and do your music.\"

Despite his numerous business trips to Europe and America  a privilege usually reserved to the elite in his country -- and the fact that he speaks fluent English, which is also rare in Senegal, Waterflow says he feels 100 percent Senegalese, and he would not trade either his roots nor his identity for any other.
\"Senegal, it\'s me, me I am Senegal,\" he said, \"so of course I love Senegal, it\'s my country, it\'s my soul, you know.\"


Again what can I say? To paraphrase the Hip-hop wordsmith, Zion I in the song “Boom Bip”, I always “taste the bitter” in mainstream “sweet” even though I am no “metaphysic flow spitter”, I still try to read in-between the lines. Unfortunately many just sip the mainstream “licks like pop liquor”; drink from my flask, kick back till it hit ya. Hick up!
Now, a few closing lines from Zion I’s “Boom Bip”

“Capiche, released stress at the doormat
Fresh with the raw rap collapse in your format
Backspin the game, gyrate your waistline (???)
Why hate and waste time, bounce with the bass line
Follow,  the sunsets of tomorrow, why rappers don’t never
Understand their role models, sick with the bottle
Let it get hollow, medic, get sweaty by the spit (of )my motto
Holler back, I\'ve died cold and you got the \'nac
I\'m asking all of my people, where ya loving at?


So don\'t fight the feeling
When we got it right here
We ain\'t going nowhere
Open your mind
When we got it right here
We ain\'t going nowhere

Then we back to the lab for some more battle drills
Skills that\'s for real, fellness is kill, houseless is lost
In the blizzards of their mills, still I arise my
Ancestors let my soul catch fire
And it serve as a beacon, for lost soul seeking
A candle per say like in a dark day
We reaching sky high, help me get by
....Rhyme scholars, the green and the MP
I plan to be out like Marcus Garvey
See D-awn, trip on ya sizzle, cocaine and pistols
Boy that\'s a issue or two, you can \'t see thru the lies
Control the mind, lord knows I\'m trying
Resign, flip manuscripts It\'s amp live with the beat
And boom tick”

Zion I “Boom Bip”

Does this “flipping manuscripts”, “back spinning the game” and “Boom ticks” all sound like James Brown at 3 in the morning or like ODB’s babies mama trying to make sense of what ODB just said? Then give me back your “ghetto pass”! IT HAS BEEN REVOKED! lol