As part of The Hip-Hop Word Count project, Tahir Hemphill hosts a series of Rap Research Groups which make for lively and casually moderated discussions between Rap enthusiasts, historians, creative technologists, cultural critics, linguists, teachers, MC’s and academics.
Rap Research Group #2 will meet this Wednesday, December 15 at Eyebeam Technology Center 540 West 21st St at 7:30.
The discussion on Religion is presented by Reverend Sekou – Is Hip-Hop Just A Euphemism For A New Religion? The pre-requisite reading material is below.
Spiritual not Religious: Hip Hop, Spirituality, and the Future of the Black Church
Written by Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
Spiritual but not Religious
One hot June afternoon on the eve of Tupac Shakurâ€™s birthday, we gathered in the fellowship hall of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. The hall was suited for about 200 people but well over 500 people crammed in the space. Cameras and reporters swarmed and hovered as Hip Hop and young movement celebrities give selective interviews and posed for photojournalists and daunting fans alike. Reporters seemed stunned at the fact the words of â€œHip Hopâ€ and â€œpoliticsâ€ were being used in the same sentence. The occasion was the National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC).
In the midst of a pivotal Presidential election of 2004, over three days, 6,000 or more youth activists, organizers, Hip Hop authors and journalists, and a few clergy gathered to contemplate the role of Hip Hop in American politics. The opening event of the convention at Mt. Zion Baptist sought to bridge the infamous generation gap.
Here are my notes from Rap Research Group #1.
Steel Sharpens Steel
Sam reminded us of Puffy’s influence on removing criticism – a requisite tool for creativity – from the hands of the Rap community. In a post Hate Me Now world, criticism became hate. If you don’t like my song you are no longer a critic that I must answer to but you are a hater that will be dismissed. Is the tradition of a peer review process now dead?
Raafi talked about his appreciation of the new wildly iterative production process in Hip-Hop. The technical capability to make and distribute songs with no A&R gate keepers. Songs that get feedback only after their release.
Hank pointed out of the power of internet metrics and how for the first time our clicks may effect the creativity within Rap. If we repeatedly click to see car crashes (Antoine Dodson, 50 Tyson & Eli Porter) car crashes are what will be programmed on cable, signed by record companies and scientifically proven by Billboard’s Social 50 as the next new thing in Hip-Hop.
An Observation Of A Cultural Trend
A great deal of young Black male power in the U.S. of A has been sourced from from the front: Jump Off Our Jocks! / I Know That They Are On The Tip. / Who? My Dick!
In the 2000’s that area of attention has shifted to the rear: Pants On The Floor / Tight Sag / Skinny Jeans.