Sunday, September 27, 2009

Follow the Leader: In Search of Hip Hop's Talented Tenth

Follow the Leader:
In Search of Hip Hop's Talented Tenth

Paul Scott

"I'm here to break away the chains, take away the pains, remake the brains..."

Follow the Leader -Eric B and Rakim 1988

Twenty years ago the members of Public Enemy announced that they were going to raise up a nation of 5,000 black leaders. For a time it seemed to be working as many black folks started reading Afro-centric literature and listening to lectures by black scholars for the first time. This is not much different than Dr. WEB Du Bois's efforts a century earlier to cultivate a "talented tenth" that was supposed to uplift the black race. But in 2009, when ignorance is produced in mass quantities, the question that we must ask is where are they now?

If Du Bois's challenge was to uplift a people just two generations up from slavery, why do we find it so difficult, in the 21st century, to organize against ignorance?

During the era 1988-92, members of the Hip Hop Nation tried to develop a massive mass education project . For example, KRS not only tried to organize H.E.A.L. (Human Education Against Lies) but also released the timeless track, "My Philosophy" which, till this day, is still one of the greatest arguments against anti-intellectualism ever recorded.

Groups like the X-Clan moved a whole generation towards Afro-centric thought and exposed a nation of black youth who had only known of Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King to the philosophy of Garvey-ism via songs such as "Funkin' Lesson."

The impact of the 5% Nation (NGE) cannot be overstated as groups such as Brand Nubian and Poor Righteous Teachers saw it as their spiritual mission to "civilize the uncivilized."

However, by 1992, the age of enlightenment gave way to Hip Hop's Dark Age, in which, we still find ourselves 17 years later.

The reasons for this backwards journey are many.

However, we must start with the nature of the beast, the music industry ,itself, and it's relationship to "revolutionary" music a generation prior to the "conscious" Hip Hop age.

In his book, "There's a Riot Going On," Peter Doggett writes of a meeting of advertising agencies and entertainment conglomerates that was held in October of 1968 called "Selling the American Youth Market," which was followed two months later by a Columbia Records marketing campaign called "The Revolutionaries are on Columbia." Thus, the revolutionary energy of the Vietnam Era was quickly co-opted and transformed into a Capitalist marketing scheme. The music that was once radical became politically ambiguous, at best.

If we juxtapose this with progressive Hip Hop music, we see that with the commercialization of the politically charged rap it began to loose it's militancy , attempting to attract the coveted crossover market. This was also exacerbated by an American political structure that has always seen intelligent African Americans as threats to national security. Not to mention a corporate America that has grabbed every opportunity to "dumb down" the youth in an effort to make them more vulnerable to marketing schemes and corporate exploitation.

While many of the causes have been external, they have been internal, as well.

Although, members of the era of conscious Hip Hop waxed poetic about the conspiracy to dumb down black youth, they were ill prepared to do anything about it. So why should we be surprised in the 21st century that the fruits of this labor have come to fruition? Also, we must admit that too many in that era gave VIP (Very Ignorant People) passes to the early gangsta rappers in the name of Hip Hop unity. This has produced the dilemma in which we find ourselves, today.

While Kwame Ture' spoke about "making the unconscious, conscious" until his dying day, what has developed is an "anti-conscious" movement. Biblically speaking, they are those who are destroyed not for their lack of Knowledge but for their rejection of it.

This is the target audience of today's representatives of what is passing for a black consciousness movement, many of whom were either in elementary school or not even born at the height of the political rap era, 20 years ago.

The problem with the new school Hip Hop intelligentsia is that they have so much dumbed down their messages that they have become the antithesis of the mission to uplift black people. Many of them have become less disciples of Rakim and more so followers of Nas, whose lyrical contradictions oft times outweigh their potentially, powerful impact. Also, because of the misuse of social networking sites such as youtube and Twitter, they have tried to out-gangsta the gangsta rappers , often bitterly attacking those who should be their comrades in the struggle.

Perhaps the biggest fault lies at the door of those who Du Bois would have referred to as his talented tenth; the college educated, as many of the music moguls with higher education are the main purveyors of the worst examples of anti-intellectualism; Sean Combs, Dame Dash, Suge Night, David Banner, etc.

While the call for 5,000 black leaders in the 80's was admirable, what we need now is a call for 5,000 black poor righteous teachers who realize that ,despite all the rheatoric, the greatest threat to global white supremacy (misnomered racism) is not a gun but a book.

The battle for the minds must start in our own communities as we must dedicate our lives to raising the consciousness of those around us.

Because, as Du Bois wrote in 1903 in "The Negro Problem," "if you do not lift them up, they will pull you down."

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at or (919) 451-8283 To learn more about The Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign visit

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Durham Case of Swagga Jackin'

Love it or hate it, one of the things Hip Hop used to pride itself in was its originality. The Cardinal sin of Hip Hop was "bitin' " another rappers rhymes.

If only writers had the same code of ethics.

If you have followed the news in Durham over the years you can probably "feel me" on this one.

As an underground writer, I have always been more of an outcast. Like the early underground Hip Hoppers, I had to hustle (ie use guerrilla activism/journalism) to get my message out.

(Although they say "controversy sells" sometimes you can only sell it on the street corner.)

Anyway, some local writers have had more access to the mainstream press.

All well and good and I'm not hatin'.

But the problem comes when you work hard to be original and you see the fruits of your labor, unashamedly, in the mainstream by another dude.

Back in the late 90's, I remember working tirelessly to stop a malt liquor from being sold in the 'hood. I turned on the TV set one day and saw this dude talking about how he was fighting against the 40 oz.

This is also repeated in a book about black barbershop talk(or something another) where the author writes about how this same guy called for a boycott of Phat Boy Malt Liqour.

Coincidence? Maybe...

But then a few years later, I made a call for for black men in the city to gather to help stop the violence.

A week guessed it.

Then when I started promoting Afrocentric Theology...

And still 'till, this very day, as I have been trying for the last few weeks to address the issue of the failure of the local school system to close the achievement gap. I looked in the local paper and once again...

Same dude. History keeps repeating itself.

It's kinda like an unsigned artist who gets his song stolen by an established cat with a record deal.

Oh well, I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery.

But sometimes as the Hip Hopper's say "swagga jackin' " is just "swagga jackin."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September 27th: What Happened to Black Consciousness?

There was a time when there was a vivrant Black Consciousness movement in this country. A period, when Knowledge was revered and the pursuit of it encouraged.

However, in 2009, Black Consciousness seems more like gangsta rap.

What happened?

On Sunday ,September 27th at 10AM on WRBB (104.9) in Boston, Bro. Adika and TRUTH Minista Paul Scott will discuss the future of Black Consciousness.

To listen live go

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rev. Al "Razor Sharp" Sharpton to Take on WWE

Rev. Al "Razor Sharp" Sharpton to Host WWE Raw

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. I just saw where Rev. Al Sharpton is going to be the guest host on World Wrestling Entertainment's top rated show, Raw, next week.

Is nothin' sacred?

I haven't been this disappointed since MC Hammer was dancing around with a bucket of fried chicken in those KFC commercials back in the day.

Now, I know that WWE has millions of viewers but I just don't see why the good Rev would lower himself to appear on a show with overweight men in tights beating each other's brains out with steel chairs.

Say it ain't so!

Maybe there is a method to his madness.

Since the running gimmick on Raw is that the guest host picks the matches for the evening maybe Rev. Al is going to present the Wrestlemania of Politics featuring:

In a leather strap match Glenn "No Respect" Beck will take on Van "the Buzz Saw Czar" Jones.

In a Diva' s swim suit match match: Ann "Annihilator" Coulter will take on Michelle "Bring the Drama" Obama.

For the WWE tag team championship: The Masked Foxes, "Wild Bill" O'Reilly and Sean "The Shark" Hannity will fight THE CN-Enemies, Rollin' Roland Martin and Larry "the Killer" King.

And in the main event, for the heavy weight championship of the world, Barack "tha Bomb" Obama will battle "Joe "You Lie" Wilson in a cage match.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can reached at or (919) 451-8283

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What About Our Children, Again?

What About Our Children, Again?

Paul Scott

Back when I was in school the blue eyed soul group, Hall and Oates had a song that had the chorus, "you're out of touch, I'm out of time." The song was about some dude who couldn't get along with his main squeeze but it also sums up how I felt while watching the MSNBC special "About Our Children," last night.

The program was promoted as a Bill Cosby Town hall meeting, so like many folks, I tuned in to expect to see Dr. Cosby ranting and raving about how Hip Hop is destroying the minds of young black children especially since he had tons of material following last week's MTV Video Music Awards. I assumed that as the credits were rolling he would still be pointing his finger at the camera and yelling, "Now about that Kanye West fellow...and who told that little girl to jump on the stage with Jay Z !"

But no, as Cosby pointed out during the intro, it wasn't his show; he was just the draw.

That was pretty much the case.

As with most meetings that deal with the plight of "troubled youth," the MSNBC program suffered from the same problem; wrong place and wrong people.

The meeting took place in a nice auditorium at Howard University in Washington DC. I think that it would have been more realistic if it would have been held at one of the many community centers in the 'hoods of DC but I guess that wasn't the ambiance that the producers were trying to create.

On the panel you had a bunch of mostly private school educated folks who would probably wet their pants if one of their students threw up a gang sign during English class. You had the professors professin' about the problem. You had the ,obligatory, lady who looked like she just stepped out one of those movies where the great white hope goes into an inner city school and within the first 6 weeks all of the students become Phi Beta Kappa candidates. I'm still not sure how comedian, Paul Rodriguez wound up on the panel, I guess Chris Rock was busy.

They even showed scenes from a few schools where the children all wanted to grow up to be doctors and teachers. Not one mentioned wanting to be Lil Wayne's hype man or a forward for the Chicago Bulls.

Where were the real people? Where were the community activists that could have told the challenges that they face in trying to change their local school systems? Where were the "inner city" teachers who would have been told where to go and what to kiss if they tried to implement some of the feel good strategies that the panelists suggested? It would, also, have been nice if they would have ,at least, allowed the parents of "at risk youth" to Twitter in some comments even if they couldn't make the pilgrimage to the nation's Capitol.

But instead you had a two hour visit to a fantasy world where the children always beat the tardy bell and the hallways smell like Lemon Pledge instead of stale urine.

I can't really say that watching the program made me a better parent or taught me much that I didn't already know. I can think of a few scholars (Jawanza Kunjufu, Na'im Akbar) that would have kept me from watching the clock hoping that I wouldn't miss the kick off of the Cowboys/Giants game for most of the program.

Maybe it's not all that deep. Perhaps, the problems facing our children can be solved with nice polite town hall meetings where people sit unemotionally, quiet as a panel of really smart folks gives them advice to save their children who step over crack pipes and broken wine bottles on their way to class every morning. Or maybe the solutions are so controversial and advanced that the folks over at MSNBC wouldn't dare allow "real folks" on national TV to discuss the issue.

Or maybe there could have been a good mixture of the two possibilities?

But as Hall and Oates sang , at the end of the program, I think that most of us were left with "manic moves and drowsy dreams or living in the middle between the two extremes..."

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at or (919) 451-8283 He recently launched the Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign.

Intelligence Over Ignorance Interviews the Hip Hop Educator

Rappin' With the Hip Hop Educator
To many people, the terms "Hip Hop" and "education" are polar opposites. However, Miami's, Tony Muhammad thinks differently. Known as the "Hip Hop Educator" Muhammad has been successful at using the art form to educate the children of Florida.

For the full article visit the Intelligence Over Ignorance Website:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Will the Real Jackass Please Stand up

In the news tonight, President Barack Obama called someone out today in a major way. No, it wasn't Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the talking heads that have been criticizing his every move. It wasn't the radio show hosts who have been taking turns dissin' the First Family since they stepped into the White House. It wasn't even Rep. Joe Wilson, the dude who yelled out "You Lie!" during Obama's health care speech. No, the target of the president's sharp silver tongue was the real major threat to his health care agenda; Kanye West.

The Hip Hop world is buzzin' about President Obama dissin' West by calling him a jackass via an "off the record remark."

(Word of advice Mr. President, in the cut throat world of journalism, there are no "off the record remarks.")

Now I don't think what Kanye did to Little Taylor Swift was cool at all. Seems that every since West made his infamous "George Bush Doesn't like black people" remark a few years back there has been an attempt to dumb him down. I bet one of the industry big wigs and his goons pulled him into a back room and "strongly" suggested that he kill the political commentary and stick to rapping about money and hos.

So, no excuses for Kanye's behavior.

But that's beside the point.

If the president can brush off talking heads calling the mother of his children a female dog and a preacher saying that he hopes that he dies, why did he feel compelled to call out a rapper?

Well, rappers are easy targets. For most white folks a rapper is synonymous with a young black male who needs to be disciplined. Remember, after the Don Imus "nappy headed ho" scandal, the conversation switched from white male bigotry to a conversation about Hip Hop lyrics almost overnight.

Also, the picture of Kanye West on the cover of today's USA Today over the caption 'What Happened to Civility" could easily be seen as a not -so- veiled attempt to portray young black men as "uncivilized.

Perhaps the worst thing that will come out of the whole West/Swift ordeal is the next time some right wing kook decides to yell "you suck!" at an Obama press conference the good ol' boys will brush away all criticisms with "well, what about when Kanye West...."

I just think that if President Obama wanted to call someone a jackass, he had a whole staff of commentators at Fox News that would have fit the description better than a confused rapper....

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NWSF Exclusive: Intelligence Over Ignorance Campaign

Concerned that President Obama's recent speech on the value of education may not have resonated with the Hip Hop generation, a NC activist has launched a campaign that targets "ignorant rap."Durham minister and activist, Paul Scott has just started "Intelligence Over Ignorance," ( as an effort to counter the anti-intellectualism found in most of today's commercial Hip Hop.

Scott says that for the last 15 years there has been a concerted effort on the part of the music industry to dumb down African American children.This is especially crucial as many school systems are trying to find ways to close the educational gap between African American students and their peers."We will never be able to close the educational gap until we close the mouths of some of these rappers," says Scott. As part of the campaign, Scott is urging the community to ostracize rappers who promote "mentally challenged music" and replace them with those who inspire children to grow, intellectually.

Scott is a minister activist and author of the blog, No Warning Shots . He first gained national attention in 1998 with a successful boycott of Phat Boy Malt Liquor. in 2003, He led a protest against Hip Hop star Nelly's "Pimp Juice" energy drink. For more information contact (919) 451-8283 or or visit the website

Fear of an Intelligent Black Man

Fear of an Intelligent Black Man

Paul Scott

"If I'm not who you say I am then you are not who you think you are."
James Baldwin

I want to extend my sincerest apology to the Right Wing Republicans; the Tea Party people , the Birthers, etc. For the last year, I have been calling you "narrow minded bigots who are just hatin' on the president because he's black!" However, based on the events of the last few weeks between the hecklers, the protesters, and the media lynching of former Obama green czar, Van Jones, I stand corrected. You guys don't hate him because he's black. You hate him because he's smart...and black.

Back in the early 90's there was a short lived fashion trend when black youth like the ones wearing Scarface T shirts, today, were proudly sportin' shirts with slogans such as "Knowledge is Power," "The Blacker the College the Sweeter the Knowledge" and my all time favorite, "Warning: Educated Black Man."

The latter was the expression of a sentiment that has existed in this country for centuries. White America is scared to death of a black man who can read and articulate a position.

On the plantation "Simple Jim" and "Big Buck" were never threats to the status quo . Nor are Krazy K and T-Bone who walk around with guns in their waste bands shouting obscenities at anyone who passes by. However, "uppity Negro" Frederick who would hide behind the barn and read a book and Marcus who walks around with "48 Laws of Power" instead of a 40 oz of Old English have always been public enemy #1.

Historically, it must be noted that up until the later part of the 19th century, black people were not ,legally, allowed to read as the plantation owner didn't want the people on whom he counted to pick his cotton to have delusions of grandeur that they could one day be running the joint and make his little rotten kids pick the cotton, themselves.

During the period following slavery it was necessary to give the newly emancipated slaves just enough training to make them productive parts of an economic system that was changing from agricultural to industrial. The idea was never to give the masses of black folks enough education to achieve equality with white Americans.

While an education indeed, was hard to obtain during the 1800's,some were able to break the color barrier. In 1826, John B. Russwurm became the first black college graduate. It must be noted that many of these early intellectuals used their education to write and speak out against slavery and later, with the coming of the WEB Dubois' and the William Trotters', speak out against racial inequality.

The continuing education of the masses of black folks has always been a controversial issue.

According to Harold Cruse in his book, "Plural but Equal," during the 1880's there was an attempt to pass a bill by Senator Henry Blair that would have required the government to provide $77 million dollars to be spent "equally for the education of all children, without distinction of race or color." This was followed by the investment of white philanthropists in the movement of Booker T. Washington that favored an industrial education for black folks instead of the challenging white folks intellectually and politically as advocated by Du Bois.

During the mid 1900's, many African Americans thought that public school desegregation (Brown vs the Board of Education, 1954) was going to be the key to social and economic equity that we have yet to achieve.

In regards to the Black Power Era of the 60's, while white washed history paints the protesters as "angry black militant thugs," it must be noted that the most vocal members of the leadership were intelligent and college educated such as Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) and H. Rap Brown. And while the powers that be may have feared Black Panther, Huey P. Newton's gun, they were more afraid of the bullets that came out of his mouth.

It must also be noted that while Malcolm X went to prison as a street cat he came out of prison as one of the greatest debaters this country has ever known, often debating his philosophies on the campuses of major white universities.

During the "conscious" Hip Hop era (1988-92) it must be noted that those rappers who promoted intellectualism and academic development were demonized by those in power but the rappers who glorified gangsta-ism are still making CD's, endorsing products and even making kiddie movies twenty years after the fact.

I am sure that many of the parents who yanked their kids out of school, last week ,so they would not hear Obama's "stay in school" speech, have no problem with their children listening to Lil Wayne.

So, the problem of white intimidation by black male intelligence still exists to this day. Just ask any black student who was directed to the gym or the wood shop class by his advisor while his white counterpart was guided to the chemistry lab or advanced physics. Or the black man with a Master's degree who gets passed over for a promotion that is given to Jim Bob, who barely has a GED.

Maybe the attacks on black men like Van Jones and Barack Obama will serve a greater purpose.

We must use these intances as "teachable moments" to tell our young people that racists don't hate strong black men because of the color of their skin but they fear the genius that lies within.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at or (919) 451-8283
For more information on the "Intelligence Over Ignorance" Campaign go to

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Viacom Needs to Get Schooled

When I first heard that Bill Gates was teaming with Viacom for an initiative to boost graduation rates, I thought, "Good for Bill." But there was just one problem.


For those who aren't hip to Sumner Redstone's Empire, Viacom is the media conglomerate that owns just about every video channel on cable, that includes VHI, MTV and yes, Black Entertainment Television.

This is the corporation responsible for bringing America such intellectually stimulating shows like "Flavor of Love," "I Love New York," "For the Love of Ray J" and "Rock of Love."

(I would list all of BET's contributions but blogs have limited space.) Let's just say that a couple of years ago some exec at BET thought that playing a carton rap video called "read a a m****f**** book was going to be the catalyst that would increase enrollment at historically black college's 100%.

How can someone promote education but at the same time be the chief culprit dumbing our children down?

Let's look at it.

Who taught Lil Tyrone how to wear his pants saggin' down to his ankles?


Who taught Lil Tanesha how to do the stripper dance.


Viacom doing a a show to promote staying in school is like the tobacco industry doing a stop smoking campaign. It's like a drug dealer doing a "Just Say No" commercial. It's like a condom company doing a ....

Well, you get the picture.

I guess BET will come out with a new ghetto version of "School House Rock "with the "Conjunction Junction Dude" getting high with the "I'm Just a Bill" kid, while the "Skate a Figure 8" chick gives them a lap dance.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Lynching of Van Jones

Back in the day, the lynch mobs used to come like thieves in the night to hang black men from trees. Seems like the Right Wingers are carrying on the tradition.

It's 3AM Sunday EST and my good night's sleep was interrupted by my usual nightmare that Mike Savage and the Savage Nation had overthrown the government and were reinstituting slavery. So, I frantically, went to Yahoo news to make sure that I didn't have to grab my meager belongings and head to Canada via the nearest swamp when I saw the latest headline that green jobs czar, Van Jones, had just resigned.

Who is forced to resign at 1AM on a holiday weekend?

I guess the Conservatives felt that most black folks would be too distracted by family reunions, BBQ and old Marvin Gaye records to raise too much of a fuss during Labor Day Weekend.

What did he do so bad, anyway, record a gangsta rap version of "It's Not Easy Bein' Green?"

Now I knew earlier today when Fox News launched an "unofficial" poll that 97% of their viewers thought that Jones should be fired that this was gonna be a rough ride.

After all, they are still featuring Rev. Jeremiah Wright speeches as breaking news every time they need a black bogeyman.

They also played clips of Jones' alleged "extremist views." One clip had Jones saying that you have never seen black kids doing a "Columbine."


It's funny how they attack extremist views but don't explain how the views are extreme.

What happened to "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it..."

Guess that saying had as much merit when applied to black folks as "all men are created equal" did during slavery.

Oh well. I guess the only thing worst than being thrown under the bus is throwin' yourself under the Greyhound.

I wish that Jones had stuck to his guns. As the old saying goes, "if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

It's sad, they used to lynch black men with ropes now they lynch us with lies.

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots He can be reached at (919) 451-8283