The Politicization of Hip-Hop

People tend to forgot or flat out ignore that hip-hop was/is a political movement. In our society, radical voices seem to get more representation than more tame ones. I wanted to highlight the politicized songs within the movement, both radical and on-radical, that direct positive messages for the African American community:

1. The Message- Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYMkEMCHtJ4: Commentary on the social structures within society

2. Fuck Tha Police- N.W.A.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2YgZX9Thm0: Commentary on police brutality and violence in the streets

3. My President Is Black- Yung Jeezy ft. Nas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ffh9xDf2S9c: Commentary against American racism

4. Changes- 2Pac ft. Talent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXvBjCO19QY: Commentary on race, class, and politics

5. Little Weapon- Lupe Fiasco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UktEpUM-iMM: The militarization of children

6. Be Free- J. Cole: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=77&v=_0LNMviSTTg

7. Mystery of Iniquity- Lauryn Hill:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BswphxnAibE: Downfall of the American political system

8. Untitled- Kendrick Lamar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBX1E71Pdtk: Commentary on the Western World’s racial tensions

9. Fight The Power- Public Enemy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PaoLy7PHwk: A call to fight the institution that hinders people from progress

10. Super Rich Kids- Frank Ocean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0WW4zp7W9s: Parodying America’s rich into people that waste away their wealth on drugs on alcohol. They are living meaningless lives unfulfilled without love and a false sense of respect.

Why Riot? Why Loot? Why Burn? Why Violence?

While many people attribute the success of the Civil Rights Movement to the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, there were also many people that went unnoticed as the movement ended. They were the people that caused violent protests, looted, and rioted. These people, while they did go unnoticed, deserve an immense amount of credit for their contributions tothe Civil RIghts Movement. The olent and non-violent protests that occur in times of trouble work collectively for a greater good. This also ties into the politics of respectability. When things like Ferguson and Selma happened, you had respectable Black men such as Dr. King and Jesse Jackson take the reigns and speak for the entirety of the Black race in America.  These men become pivotal points to spread the Black message. The attention to these isses begins and spreads with the violence and looting. In American history, the Boston Tea Party is an example of this. White men took to the harbor to have their voices heard by spilling tea into the waters. This perpetuated a call to action and soon respectable political men took up the issues to bring out their anticipated end goal. Classism is a big issue in American in which we do not respect people we see as below us. This causes the looting so that the respectable people can take up their cause and the enemy can se their actions. If it weren’t for violence, looting, and burning, Mike Brown would’ve never been a national media issue. Many other issues can get swept under the rug. For many, this may be seen as unacceptable, but for me, it is definitely a necessity. Until we learn to respect one another, this violent cycle will surely continue with many issues in the very near future.

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Malcolm X

The film Malcolm X explores the life of political activist Malcolm Little AKA El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz or simply Malcolm X. The movie, although it does mix up some factors of his life, is overall very accurate and does little to stray from reality. It tends to mix up times and add clarification to events that did not have clarification before such as his involvement with drugs and the lynching of his uncle. What I really liked about the film is that although this parts of reality were skewed, it did not take away from the political and social message that the film was trying to portray. It really gave a sense of who Malcolm X really was.  In regard to art, the film is definitely a piece of art that conveyed raw emotion behind it. It was hard to watch this film without being overcome with emotion. The dramatization of his life conveyed an artsy message with the intent to have people emotionally connect with Malcolm X rather than just hold him to the standard of a vapid political leader. It gave Malcolm character and a substantial basis for his actions. It made him a real person, which is what the film seemed to want to convey from its very start.  In regard to politics, the film made several political statements. It connected Malcolm to the death of John F. Kennedy and his contributions to making America more comfortable for Black Americans. It also intertwined this with Malcolm’s involvement and subsequent self-removal from the Nation of Islam. It tied in the use of the media and how media does effectively help social and political change. Malcolm simply used his voice and had it echo through from people to realize his message. He is an example of an era of bloggers outside of the 2000s and this modern era of the technological generation.  The film evokes social change by showing the changing dynamic of whites and blacks in America. It gives a different perspective than the peaceful Martin Luther King. It shows how more radical black leaders were able to effectively spark change in America and almost shows them as a necessity for the movement.  The movie in itself shows how Malcolm X became a point of admiration for both whites and blacks despite his radicalized views, which would subsequently change America and have him held to the standard of one of the most important Civil Rights Leaders in America. The film really personalized Malcolm’s social life and political opinions and it ties all of this perfectly into a point of artistic and political expression despite the very minimal strays from reality. The final scene that depicts the African American children idolizing Malcolm tie in the final message of the film. It is that Malcolm X is a man to be admired. He is a man that fought and died for change in America and his legacy should and will live on. It also show that we must fight for freedom by any means necessary.

picture Written By: Mariatu Hamid Mansaray

Reaction to Martese Johnson Arrest

In all honesty, I’ve looked at this past week with anger and pride. I am so proud of the black community. I mean not just of UVA, but of Charlottesville as well for coming together to form a collective unit and to take a stand against injustice not just on grounds, but in the surrounding community. I am proud that the injustices even outside of Martese’s case are being addressed. I am proud that we as young people are taking a stand, but I am also angry. I am angry that in a time like this, even though I can hear so much discourse around the topic, I am distracted by the silence and the negative language being used by my peers to describe this movement. Students have turned to yik yak to voice their opinions that include an overreaction by black UVA and some have turned a blind eye to it in favour of the March Madness games. I am upset that people have decided to take a back seat to these issues and use the excuse that “they are afraid to be called racist” or “they need all the evidence to come through” without seeking to educate themselves on where the issue is in the first place. I feel that while the black community is united, there needs to be more outreach from other groups. I have spoken to many of my Asian friends who feel horrible that they are labeled “the good minority” and have been silenced by the media and both they and I are angered that the majority of them still are taking a backseat to this issue. I just want people to at least educate themselves on why the black community is angry because while you cannot see the world from my perspective, you can try to understand how I perceive it.

Expanding Your Network

When asked about how I would expand my network in the world I live in, I thought about the actual world I lived in and the interactions I make everyday. Essentially, these interactions are a collective part of my network. My network entails the people I interact with everyday and the environment around me. Essentially, every word that I speak, write, or tweet is a part of my network when consumed by anyone other than me. Since this is true, in 2015, it would impossible for me to expand my network without the use of technology. We live in a world where there are non-profit organizations to give the homeless cell phones just because our world is so wrapped around technology. With that being said, the best way to expand my network would be to keep sharing statuses, keep tweeting, and to keep telling stories. This is because our words speak just as loud as our actions when it comes to our network because our words shape our being. In the day of youtube, a simple rant can go viral and either make you the best person ever or an enemy in the eyes of those around. Basically, I’m saying that since our network has expanded to a technological front, the best way to expand is to stay connected to the internet.

Song Comparison

I really appreciated this assignment because of the inclusion of the 1960s era. I love music from the 60s and one of my favorite artists is Louis Armstrong. In 1968, Armstrong recorded the song “What A Wonderful World.” Although the song is an American classic, little is ever mentioned of the song’s meaning. The meaning behind the song is the racial, political, and social discrimination that African Americans faced during this era. It has a melodic beat and with Armstrong’s soulful voice, it makes for a very upbeat sounding song even though its roots are placed in a very depressing time in American history. He asks that we look to the good of the world like the birth of babies in order to look forward to and hope for a brighter tomorrow/future. As we fast forward to 2015 and past the height of the hip-hop revolution we have been blessed, yes blessed, with the like of Kendrick Lamar. Lamar’s December 2014 performance of an untitled song on the Colbert Show depicts the same strife that American Americans had in Armstrong’s day that progressed to today along with the strife of other marginalized minorities, but in a more direct way. Lamar, in these few minutes, talks of African Americans being sold into slavery, the taking of Native Lands, and the multiplication of minorities into a powerful entity. From Louis Armstrong to Kendrick Lamar, there is a change in genre, tone, and style, but what does not change is the message. The message for a brighter future and the communication of that through music as an outlet.

State of The Union Reaction

I think that Obama did a great job with this past State of The Union. Obama hit many points that concerned Americans and was even able to defend himself when Republicans made a very childish attempt to ridicule him. There were several reactions on social media, but twitter had some of the worst that I saw. People called Obama’s address “useless,” asking the president to resign, and calling him other things outside of Mr. President. I feel that Obama did a great job of concerning the needs of this nation, but with a republican dominant senate, acceptance of his words is near impossible. The main topics that people seemed concerned with were the welfare of our troops, working families, and childhood education. I felt that media today strayed from past media because people are able to voice their own opinions rather than a television blasting information that they feel is important. Social media, although I do not agree with all that is said, gives people an outlet to engage others and voice their opinion. I feel that our voice as Americans is the most important thing we have. It hurt watching all the unnecessary comments being made by Americans about the president, but it is also more important for people to have a voice in politics rather than no voice.

Late To Class

I used to have stage fright, but now I’m in an a cappella group on grounds and I feel better about singing in front of crowds. I’d probably still feel intimidated, so I would choose songs that I enjoy, but also do not challenge my vocal range too much. The first song I would choose is “I’m Not The Only One” by Sam Smith. The song hit home pretty hard and I would enjoy recreating those same emotions for people to feel. I might have to have the music video playing in the background so people can really understand it. The second song I would choose is a throwback! I love this song so much and used it to try out for my a cappella group. It is called “If I Ever Fall In Love” performed by Shai. It’s a throwback to the 90s, but the vocals in this song are so amazing and it would a shame if I or anyone else did not sing it. The last song I would choose is not all lovey as the other two, but I love it because it speaks the truth and maybe redefine hip-hop. That song is “Juicy” by the Notorious B.I.G. The song is about struggle and going against stereotypes to make your dreams come true. I feel that my time at UVA really conveys that even though Biggie’s struggle is different from my own.