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September 2002 Archives

September 10, 2002

A 9/11 Story

On the morning of September 11th, phones were dead in most of Manhattan. So I got online to check my email and look for friends who couldn't reach me. I found dozens of new e-mails in my inbox, but they were not from friends. They had messages like:

"Happy Now? Stupid f**king retard."

"What do u think of your hero now?"


"you are a piece of shit for sympathizing Bin Laden. Let me guess, you are a black panther too aren't you? You need to burn in hell just like Bil Laden will, you f**king piece of dog shit. there is a difference between blacks and niggers just like whites and honkeys and you are a PURE NIGGER"

I couldn't for the life of me figure why I'd be receiving all these furious, hateful messages.

Then I remembered...

When the name Osama Bin Laden first entered our collective consciousness in 1998, I was struck by how the media feeds us these fast food enemies the same way they manufacture all their disposible instant celebrities, hoping we'll swallow it whole and blindly join in calling for his head without questioning any of the details.

One afternoon I threw together a webpage poking fun at this phenomenon, named "The First Ever Osama Bin Laden Homepage". I filled it with a few sarcastic remarks about the media coverage, links to related sites, and silly stuff like a list of the anagrams you can make with Osama's name.

The page got pretty popular for a little while, a bunch of sites linked to it, then traffic fell off as the evening news moved on to the next Enemy of the Month.

So on the morning of 9/11/01 I had long since forgotten this page existed. But Google had not forgotten. And when you searched in Google for "Osama Bin Laden", my page came up third on the list. Within 24 hours, a quarter of a million people had visited the page.

Now, I was (and still am) willing to stand by everything that was on that page, in the context of the time I wrote it. But it suddenly had a very different context now, and I decided that any attempt at satire would be in poor taste at the moment. So I quickly changed the page to what you see here.

But the hate mail kept coming. Nowhere on the original page had I expressed support for Bin Laden or anything he was accused of, but people needed somewhere to vent their anger, and didn't have time to figure out whether I was really a fair target. So in order to preserve what was left of my sanity, I made Google take my page out their index entirely.

In retrospect, I wish I had kept the page in search engines, I could have reworked it to offer thousands of visitors an alternative, progressive perspective that was sorely lacking in those early days. And I did get some emails encouraging me to restore the page, and stand up for the freedom expression many already feared would be the biggest casualty of all. But the emotional torrent of those first days left me no strength to fight any of these battles.

September 24, 2002

Hip-Hop's reaction to 9/11

Here is an email I wrote that has been forwarded around quite a bit, in response to this nonsense from the ever-annoying Minister Paul Scott.


I'm all for constructive criticism, and Hip-Hop music is as deserving of it as any other art form. But criticism can only be constructive if it is fair, balanced, and well-informed. The essay below does not meet those standards, as it is driven by a mix of stereotypes and straight-up misinformation. For example, the song he quotes in the first paragraph,. "Because I Got High", is in fact not a Hip-Hop record at all, and has no "brotha rapping" on it whatsoever.

Hip-Hop has grown into a global phenomenon of incredible diversity, with countless different sounds and subcultures, and to cite the 5 songs played on MTV as representative of the culture as a whole is simply dishonest, and renders subsequent analysis bankrupt. Furthermore, even the mainstream artists dismissed as only rapping about "bling-bling" often have a good deal more substance and complexity to their lyrics, if you take the time to truly listen. Jay-Z kicks rhymes about Mumia, but these self-serving critics won't tell you that because it doesn't fit into their agenda.

This Paul Scott piece has been deconstructed at length in other venues, so rather than a point-by-point breakdown I will offer some excerpts of how Hip-Hop artists did in fact respond to 9/11. You may find these responses rather different than Minister Scott would have you believe:

"What Would You Do" by Paris:

"Now ask yourself who's the people with the most to gain (Bush)

before 911 motherf***as couldn't stand his name (Bush)

Now even brothas waivin' flags like they lost they mind

Everybody got opinions but don't know the time

'Cause Amerikkka's been took - it's plain to see

The oldest trick in the book is MAKE an enemy

Of phony evil now the government can do its dirt

And take away ya freedom lock and load, beat and search"


"What Goes Around" by Nas

"Never to worry, all the wrong doers got it coming back to 'em a thousand times over

Every dog has its day, and everything flips around

Even the most greatest nation in the world has it comin back to 'em

Everybody reaps what they sews, that's how it goes"


"Makeshift Patriots" by Sage Francis

"Who's going to make that call to increase an unknown death toll?

It's the one we rally behind. He's got a megaphone...and he's promising to make heads roll,

So we cheer him on, but asbestos is affecting our breath control.

The less we know...the more they fabricate...the easier it is to sell souls

An addictive 24 hour candle light vigil in TVs.

Freedom WILL be defended...at the cost of civil liberties.

We'll show you which culture to pump your fist at and what foot is right tokiss.

We don't know who the culprit is yet...but he looks like this. "


"Satisfied" by J Live

"By the time Bush is done, you won't know what time it is

If it's war time or jail time, time for promises

And time to figure out where the enemy is

The same devils that you used to love to hate

They got you so gassed and shook now, you scared to debate

The same ones that traded books for guns

Smuggled drugs for funds

And had fun lettin' off forty-one

But now it's all about NYPD caps

And Pentagon bumper stickers

But yo, you still a nigga

It ain't right them cops and them firemen died

The 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"


"Home of the Brave" by Mr. Lif

"Headline: Bush steals the presidency

He needs the backing of the media what could the remedy be?

The country's headed for recession reminiscent of the Great Depression

Are lives worth a world of power? Easy question

Planes hit the towers and the Pentagon

Killing those the government wasn't dependant on

It's easy to control the scared so they keep us in fear

With their favorite Middle Eastern demon named Bin Laden this year

Bush disguises blood lust as patriotism

Convincing the living to love "Operation Let's Get 'Em"

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

America supported the Taliban

To get Russia out of Afghanistan

That's how they got the arms in

They're in a war against the Northern Alliance

And we can't build a pipeline in hostile environments

Here's what your history books won't show:

You're a dead man for f**king with American dough

They killed several birds with one stone

While you're at home with anti-terrorism up in your dome

But my eyes are wide open and my TV is off

Great, 'cause I save on my electricity cost

And you can wave that piece of s**t flag if you dare

But they killed us because we've been killing them for years

About September 2002

This page contains all entries posted to hiphopmusic.com: in September 2002. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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