Here is a letter forwarded to us from a friend of Matthew Hall, the young emcee and activist who died tragically here in NY last week. The letter addresses the media's increasingly negative take on his ties with hip-hop and the Zulu Nation in particular.
The death of Matthew Hall has been widely publicized lately by the media circuits here in New York and there have been numerous despicable assertions, which are trying tarnish his legacy. He was a good friend to me so please read this first if you will write a news article about him. If you are not planning to write one, I encourage you to because the media has been portraying Hiphop, the followers of Hiphop, and progressive elements (particularly the Zulu Nation) as negative influences to society in this incident.
Matthew Hall is known as Optimus Rhyme in the underground Hiphop scene here in New York. As you may probably have heard, he was a member of the Zulu Nation founded by Afrika Bambaata. He was also a member of the amazing break dancing crew Motion Sickness. Although he performed poetry numerous times, he was more known in the New York open mic scene for his freestyles. As a matter of fact, he was 2nd runner-up on the freestyle competition at the first ever Hiphop Summit of Russell Simmons when it was held at Riverside Church, Manhattan.
Recently, the NYPD has been implicating his Zulu brethrens as his shooter. The Zulu Nation is a movement that promotes peace, equality, spirituality and justice and in no way did advocate violence or racism which the media has been implying. I have talked with his Zulu brothers and they have informed me about the disgusting strategies the NYPD has been imposing on them such as coercing them to give false testimonies. His Zulu brothers are greatly devastated and are mentally and emotionally tortured because aside from Matt’s departure, they have now become suspects (because they would not oblige to the demands of NYPD like lying). Although I am not a Zulu, I can personally attest that it was not a Zulu who was behind Matt’s death—Matt was even wearing an “I LOVE ZULU” shirt when he was shot. The NY Post particularly has been spreading atrocious lies suggesting that Matt provoked a physical altercation that led to the shooting. But anybody and I mean ANYBODY THAT KNEW MATT knows that he would not instigate such incident. In my years of knowing him, I have never even seen him close to getting mad even during the time when he was harassed by security personnel at Hunter College when he organized a free show.
Matt was also politically active. He was involved with the political organizations Refuse and Resist (www.refuseandresist.org) and Not in Our Name (www.notinourname.net). He was a strong advocate for the liberation of Palestine and the elimination of the oppressive social system. Matt played critical roles on the October 6, 2002 rally in Central Park (which was attended by 30,000 people), November 20, 2002 student walk out converging at Union Square and the February 15, 2003 rally in New York City where conservative estimates was at 500,000 but perhaps had 2 million people. He lived what he preached. In my recent visit to his building after he passed away, a worker in his building showed me a book by Gore Vidal Matt gave him to clarify the worker’s disillusioned thoughts on American politics.
Events have been organized to commemorate his legacy. On Tuesday, September 30, students of Hunter College are having a memorial (6pm @ Room 105 Thomas Hunter Bldg.). October 7, Guerilla Words (a monthly open mic which Optimus used to help promote, 213 2nd Ave corner 13th St.-8pm) will dedicate the October open mic to Optimus Rhyme. Cajo Communications is organizing a October 29th show with numerous artists (Immortal Technique, C-Rayz Walz, L.I.F.E. Long, Oktober and dead prez to name a few) at Lion’s Den (214 Sullivan St.) for him. Act Your Rage, a defunct monthly open mic Optimus hosted twice (he hosted the last one), will be revived to be held outdoors but specific information are not yet available. 99.5 Pacifica Radio and End of the Weak’s radio show gave tribute to Optimus.
Once again, the NYPD has shown incompetence and impatience to the point that they are ruining the lives of Matthew’s friends. Once again, corporate media’s thirst for profit (by writing burlesque articles to draw readers and viewers) is damaging an innocent man’s name.
To describe Matt is beyond adjectives so I guess when people ask me to describe him; I always have a hard time to. To name a few descriptions fitting to him, he was definitely smart (reflected by his GPA) he was definitely caring (proven by his works) and he was definitely responsible (balancing his studies and school activities, work, healthy social life and political involvement). I am not just saying this because he passed away; I am saying this because it is the truth.
On behalf of the mourners of Matt who wish the truth to be known, thank you for reading this letter.
Posted by jsmooth995 at September 29, 2003 6:27 PM