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