Sunday, October 23, 2005

‘I Ain't Dealin With Another Fuckin Politic’


Reading ‘NBA Bans 'Hip-Hop Dress', Players, Coaches React’ again proves the politics behind Hip Hop.

This act may just seem like an act of making basketball players appear ‘more professional’ in fact it’s an attempt to deny a culture, a group of people, their right to be themselves.

Hip Hop has always been about self expression, through Graffiti, breaking, the music itself… Hell what’s one of the most popular terms in Hip Hop? ‘Keep it real’…

"The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years,” Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune earlier this week. “All the stuff that goes on, it's like gangster, thuggery stuff. It's time.”

Analyse that statement.

Phil Jackson is using the stereotypes about Hip Hop most people (and probably some of us hold as well) to try to ‘criminalise’ Hip Hop.

How many times have any of us seen or heard of prisoners in designer clothing, fat gold chains round their neck, platinum and ice chains/watches/rings, driving a Hummer/Merc/Lexus/etc?

What you’re really looking at in that statement is in fact a racial stereotype, a belief that Hip Hop fashion comes from prison, that black culture and prison culture are so tightly linked that Hip Hop has decided to adopt the attitude and appearance of criminals.

While some of the top selling Hip Hop artists may help fuel the stereotype, it’s not quite that easy is it?

Look at society, what are the main goals we’re all told to aim for? Money, power, respect. Buy your own house, own an expensive car, have plenty of money in the bank.

How are working class people supposed to achieve these goals when there are glass ceilings put up to stop the majority of us getting it?

We’ve been sold the belief that we live in a classless world, that there is nothing stopping any of us from being ‘successful’ but that’s not true at all. The reality of the matter is that this belief of ‘classlessness’ has in fact turned us all on each other.

From petty squabbles about so-called ‘scroungers’ who claim unemployment benefit to internal beefs in Hip Hop about what’s ‘real Hip Hop’, we’ve missed the point and the establishment loves it.

Fiddy may be iced up in his videos, Juelz may talk about crack dealing, both may make reference to guns and the sex industry but this glamorisation of working class crime is nothing new and nothing Hip Hop should be held responsible for.

The manner in which the Krays are held with reverence and respect still goes some way to prove this. Their reign of terror over the East End of London is infamous but regardless of all the bad they did people still (rightly or wrongly) respect them.

Look at the popularity of Gangster movies, is that purely Hip Hop people watching them? Would the entire audience in the 50’s watching Gangster movies have listened to Hip Hop? Probably not. Does everyone with a copy of ‘The Godfather’ on DVD listen to Hip Hop?

Crime in one form or another is appealing to most people. The acts of people like the Krays are in fact revolutionary acts, not necessarily in the Marxist definition of social revolution but they are clearly acts of raising a fist against the establishment. “You tell us we should have x y and z but then don’t provide us with the means to get them. Well fuck your laws I’ll get them my own way.” Many of us do not have the balls to go down this route, therefore we watch/listen/read tales of such acts.

The NBA’s ban on Hip Hop is really a ban on poverty and fashion that has evolved from poverty, rather than an attack on crime. It’s just using the negative stereotypes to keep us quiet and passive about their motives.

Wearing baggy clothing isn’t a head nod to ‘incarcerated hero’s’ instead it’s something that came from hand me downs. Wearing jewellery isn’t a symbol of crime; it’s a declaration of “Hey! I’ve made it!” The ‘fuck you’ attitude isn’t criminal it’s a symptom of a society that breeds and thrives on competition rather than unity.

Hip Hop bucks the system, it celebrates the ‘we’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got’ mentality, being poor and/or being from poverty isn’t a bad thing (in fact it’s highly important in terms of credibility) and while you have some artists who celebrate living the capitalist dream, many have done it on their own terms and tell tales of other ways in which you can buck the system to achieve the capitalist goals. For every artist who’s like that though there are probably 5 who are dissecting society further and calling for change. All this is what scares the establishment and why institutions like the NBA want to try to sweep the culture under the carpet and forget about it.

Check this out, moms, I said time bomb
And they sit in your house and remain calm
Till you feed'em lies and the flip
Start talkin' crazy shit (Fuck you!)
Might call you and pops a fool
Tell ya that's why they hate school
Been offensive and askin' questions
Give your brain indigestion
Why? Why? Because I have indoctrinated the youth
Yhey're mentally intoxicated with truth
So they know the noise you talk are lies
Pretty damn soon they'll be by (I'm outta here)
They listen to me and i give'em the real
And every night caps get peeled
And every night a ho gets smacked
A fool gets jacked
Now, whose fuckin' fault was that?
The home invaders...

Ice-T – ‘Home Invasion

Tags - Hip Hop, NBA, Politics

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