Monday, June 25, 2012

The Gentrification of Rap

The Gentrification of Rap:

Did Hip Hop Sell Us Out ?

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

“aka a sellout /rap definition/get off that boy/change your mission”
Crossover- EPMD

Although broken glass was everywhere, unemployment was at a record high and 911 was a joke, Clive Saddler’s Sedgwick Ave neighborhood was not the jungle the media portrayed; it was home and full of promise. But everyday the six o’clock news would run stories about drugs, murder and falling property values.That was until Universal Development Corp. came in with the bulldozers. One year later, the streets are clean, new businesses are on every corner and the police know everybody by name. Clive still lives there, behind the garbage bin of Sal’s Deli. But what happened to the rest of his neighborhoods who couldn’t afford the rent of the new brownstones? Nobody knows and nobody cares....

If you live in any ‘hood in America chances are you have heard of gentrification. In every city it's the same story, businesses close down, property values drop and the local news starts reporting about how dangerous the neighborhood has become. Than one day a development company rolls in and buys up all the property dirt cheap. A few years later the projects have become a paradise and the news is reporting how it is one of the best places to live in America.

The same can be said for Hip Hop.

In the early years , rap music was seen as the authentic voice of “inner city” America. Groups from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five to Run DMC made records about the trials and tribulations of growing up in the proverbial “ghetto.” Within five years, rap music had grown from just an obligatory observation to a critical analysis of the socio-economic conditions that created the ‘hood in the first place.

Although Hip Hop has had a small group of hip, suburban fans since the early years, for most of mainstream White America, rap music was something to be feared and best avoided. However, by the end of the 80’s, MTV and major corporations had come to realize that the money that could be made from what they once considered ghetto garbage outweighed the risk of getting mugged in some dark alley way in the South Bronx.

As the popularity of Yo MTV Raps began to grow, so did White America’s acceptance of Hip Hop. So, by the time Treach of Naughty By Nature issued the chilling warning “if you ain’t never been to the ghetto, don’t ever come to the ghetto.” White America saw it as a party invitation. If you watch some of the throwback Hip Hop documentaries, the climax is always when a teary eyed ol’ school rapper reminisces about that glorious day when his majority Black audience turned lily white.”

But, in retrospect, was that a good thing?

Of course, the added exposure meant more money in the bank but at what cost? Contrary to the title of LL Cool J’s classic album, “bigger” ain’t always “deffer.”

Crossover kills.

Probably, the area hardest hit by crossover was Afrocentric, conscious Hip Hop. While it was briefly tolerated by white America, it was never truly accepted by the mainstream. There were just so many times that Poindexter was gonna allow himself to be called a “slave maker and bloodsucker of the poor” regardless of how funky the beat was. Thus, answering the great philosophical question, “can a man condemn himself” with an emphatic no.

While much attention has been given to “gangsta rap” as the cause of the demise of pro-Black Hip Hop, it must be remembered that the the less racially “offensive” De La Soul and the Native Tongues Movement as well as the dance music of MC Hammer and the rise of Vanilla Ice played a role ,as well.

During that era, while the average Black rapper rejoiced in his new found suburban fans , it was, actually, white rappers, MC Serch and Pete Nice from 3rd Base, that warned of the change that was coming on songs like “Gas Face” and “Pop Goes the Weasel.”

So, as time progressed the measure of the success of a rap artist became how many middle class White kids bought his CDs. And eventually Yo MTV Raps eclipsed the popularity of shows like BET’s Rap City. For instance, although, many rap fans are familiar with Ed Lover, Dr. Dre and T-Money, only a true Hip Hop head can tell you about Chris Thomas, Joe Claire and Big Lez.

While many may point to money as the motivating factor behind crossover, that is not entirely true, as one cannot put a dollar value on the psychological need for White acceptance in the Black psyche.

Have you ever wondered why the superstar rapper who always shows up grinnin’ at the Grammy Awards is always missing in action at the Soul Train Music Awards? There is that annual awkward moment when the nervous presenter has to say,

“And the winner of the Life time achievement/Hip Hop song of the year award is......Well, um, he couldn’t be here tonight,’m gonna accept this on his behalf....”

It is said that “once you go black, you never go back” but once you go white forget about it. If Biffy leaves Sally Ann for Shaquana, he may get a little more swag in his style and start listening to “some Marvin Gaye, some Luther Vandross, a little Anita to set the party off right,” but he’s basically the same dude. But when Rasheed leaves Bonita for Becky , he loses his darn mind. His whole world perspective changes. All of a sudden even the most culturally aware brotha develops cultural amnesia and becomes a colorblind Hip Hop hippie , vehemently, attacking any discussion of “black” issues as outdated and racist.

As we wind down another Black Music month, the point here is not to whine about what happened to our culture. But to develop ways to save it.

Or else one day when our children ask us what happened to real Hip Hop we’ll just shrug our shoulders and sing like Joni Mitchell.

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at (919) 308-4233 or His website is Follow on Twitter @truthminista

Monday, June 18, 2012

Destruction of Black Civilization

Destruction of Black Civilization:

Did Hip Hop Swagga Jack Black Culture?

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

“So, I try to find a clue in you/But evidently White folks know more Black history than we do”

G.O.D.-Common feat. Cee Lo

On June 19,1865, Black folks in Galveston ,Texas finally got the Emancipation Proclamation announcement that slavery was over. They were ecstatic that they no longer had to choose between pickin’ massa’s crops or gettin’ beaten with rawhide. June 19, 2012, rap artists got the Hip Hop Emancipation memo that they no longer had to be coons and buffoons on the corporate rap music plantation and make mindless, murda music to mislead the masses. They were ,now, free to make music to actually uplift the Black community. Their reaction? “Naw, dawg. We good...”

Although many African Americans are celebrating Juneteenth, a holiday marking the “official” end of slavery in the US, many in Hip Hop still have not gotten the message. While it may be argued that there was a time when artists had to bow to the will of major record labels to be heard, in the Internet age of Youtube and Twitter, this is no longer the case. So, what we have is not really modern day slavery, but voluntary servitude.

Back in 1987, Dr. Chancellor Williams wrote the outstanding book, The Destruction of Black Civilization, about the factors that led to the decline of great African societies. If he would have waited just a few more years he could have added a chapter called “Hip Hop,” as it has done what 400 years of slavery could not. It has made a generation of African Americans, totally, reject Black culture.

Today, many in Hip Hop have ceased to identify themselves with “Blackness.” Although, some of our lighter-skinned grandparents had to “pass for white” to get over on society, many artists today “pass for Hip Hop” instead of accepting the social responsibility of being Black in America.

For some, Hip Hop is more than just a “culture” it has become a separate race. And they show more allegiance to Hip Hop than to the culture of their ancestors. I would not be surprised if one day somebody started a campaign to get Hip Hop included as a special racial category on the McDonald’s employment application forms.

The only time that some artists play the rap “race card” is when someone steps to them about their negative messages. How many times have you heard an otherwise culturally ,clueless rapper, eloquently, defend his lyrics by claiming “ya’ll just pickin’ on me ‘cause I’m an African American, Black man of color in America. I don’t see y’all sayin’ nuthin’ to Arnold Schwarzenegger....”

Although, some of the mainstream rappers are quick to defend Gay rights, pitbull rights and the rights of large sea mammals, they are slow to speak out on “black” issues. They will even jump to the defense of a White person using the dreaded “N “ word.

Case in point is the recent uproar over the N**** joke that was tweeted courtesy of actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s Twitter account. Although artists like Q-Tip expressed righteous indignation, some quickly rose to defend their damsel in distress. It was reported that , The Dream tried to take the heat by claiming that he was the real culprit. And later Nas threatened to give anybody who messed with his ride or die chick of the Caucasian persuasion a quick Queensbridge beat-down.

Maybe The Dream needs to revisit Malcolm X’s “House Negro vs Field Negro” speech where he said “the house Negro loved his master more than the master loved himself.” And Nas should go back and listen to his own, now autobiographical , song “Coon Picnic (These Are Our Heroes..)

“Let’s hear it too, for the spooks who do cartwheels/’cuz they say they played their parts well.”

However, they are not the only ones suffering from a racial identity crises.

As hardcore as MC Kill-M-All may be when interviewed by DJ Blaze on Hip Hop Power 97 in NY, his personality does a 180, when he politely chats with DJ Richie the C on Dance 105 in Des Moines. Or the same rapper who flashes guns and throws up gang signs on the Murda U Magazine DVD goes out of his way to convince a reporter from CNN or Forbes , that he is just an average guy who only wants peace for all mankind.

The real problem is that rappers rep’ thug-ism harder than we rep’ Black culture.

You have to give the swag boys credit for one thing; conviction. They are very clear on what they represent. (Whatever that may be.)

While the thugz have no problem walking into a ritzy, black -tie event with their drawers showin’ , a 40 oz in one hand and a big ,greasy bucket of fried chicken in the other, some of us won’t even wear an African medallion out in public for fear of being labeled a “radical.” And even though the gangsta’s will stand up in a room full of Ph.Ds and boldly defend their rights to be as ig’nant as they wanna be, the conscious cats get nervous just debating 13 year olds about the difference between rap and Hip Hop.

So, just as commercial rap music helped to destroy our culture, this Juneteenth we must make a vow to restore it. We must once again be proud to be Black.

Even though Ice T claims in his new documentary , The Art of Rap, that rap music made “something out of nothing,” in reality, it made nothing out of something...

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is This Ain’t Hip Hop, a weekly column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at (919) 308-4233 or His website is . Follow on Twitter @truthminista

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fear of an Intelligent Black Man

Fear of an Intelligent Black Man:
Does Hip Hop Hate the Educated Rapper?

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott

“like conscious rappers/mad ‘cause we winnin’”
Lap Dance-Tyga

During a recent episode of BMET’s (Black Mis-Eductation Television) Fantastic Friday Rap Battle, the crowd went wild as the champ, B. Grimey dropped bombastic bombs on the challenger, MC Imhotep. By the time he said his third “yo mama so black” rhyme , the celebrity judges were applauding loudly as hosts, Clarence C and Rosie danced across the stage. However, when MC Imhotep, started rappin’ about how Grimey’s sneakers were made from sweatshop slave labor ,his bling courtesy of South African diamond mines and his swag a product of a dysfunctional educational system, the audience sat dumbfounded and the judges
ran for cover as Clarence J yelled “cut to commercial....”

Hip Hop has a long history of beef with intelligent rappers. I remember back in the day when Kangol Kid of UTFO dissed fellow group member EMD , “The Educated Rapper” in front of Roxanne, with the classic line “I know you’re educated/but when will you learn/not all girls want to be involved with book worms” However, since EMD was just a character who wasn’t exactly known for droppin’ knowledge , it was understood as just part of the act.
However, when rappers like Tyga infer that intelligent mc’s are just hatin’ on him and his crew because they are “winning,” that ,sir, means war!

In fairness, Tyga was not the first to diss Hip Hop brainiacs, as over years more than a few commercially successful rappers have taken random shots at intellectual rappers. Remember back in 2002, Nelly aimed a diss at “tha Teacha” KRS-ONE when he said that people judging Hip Hop are the one’s whose albums flop on his song “Number 1.”


So, does Hip Hop really despise smart rappers?

Historically, America has always feared intelligent Black men. Even going back to the early 19th century with Nat Turner. Although he is portrayed in history books as a mindless brute runnin’ around slaughtering slave owners, Turner was intelligent. Also, even though the Black Panthers of the late 1960’s were known for bustin’ their guns, it must remembered that the party was founded on a college campus and their main threat to the power structure was their political education classes. Today, since Hip Hop is dominated by Black male voices, the paranoia is still there.

Although Ice T is mostly known for his pimp and gun talk , his most threatening lyric was “my lethal weapon is my mind.” That still holds true today, as ,although white mainstream Americans profess to hate violent, misogynist rap music , the reason why they back it financially and give it a platform is because of their fear of the alternative; music that will inspire Black people to challenge the status quo.

So, it is not really hate that fuels the animosity against intelligence in rap , but fear. And when
this fear is internalized it morphs into self -hatred. As Marianne Williamson said in her oft quoted poem, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Although some rappers are actually intellectually challenged in real life, many are just playing dumb. One of the best examples is one of the hottest rappers in the game, right now ,2Chainz. Although, he is rumored to be academically gifted and ,according to his website, even down with the Hip Hop Congress’s “Respect My Vote” campaign, the message that he sends our children does not reflect any of that. His latest songs, “Riot” and “Rich Man’s World” could have easily been the political anthems of the Occupy Wall Street/ Trayvon Martin Era but instead he chose to continue with the same misogynistic tales of murder and mayhem.

So what do we do?

We declare war.

Contrary to popular belief , there has never been an all out war against Hip Hop ignorance.
Although, back in ‘94 , Jeru the Damaja threatened to stab “Mr. Ignorance” “in the heart with sharp steel book marks,” he is alive and kicking. Reason being, over the years we have either looked to a rap apologist going through mid -life crisis, still tryin’ to be down or an overpaid Hip Hop academian to solve the problem.

However, the solutions are simple.

First, we have to stop parroting the lie that the reason that Hip Hop is in its present state is because that is what “we” want., “we” don’t.

Unfortunately, anyone who is smarter than a fifth grader is, somehow , always, left out of the official Hip Hop census.

Also, conscious rappers and Hip Hop journalists need to stop goin’ out like suckas. Although, playing dumb may be an entrance requirement for the cool kids table for high school freshman when adults dumb themselves down to fit in with their kid’s homies...We’ll , that’s just wrong.

Finally, as unbelievable as it might sound the best sage wisdom comes courtesy of the late Notorious B.I.G. on his song “Unbelievable,” “dumb rappers need teachin’.” If we can’t make being smart cool, at least we can make being stupid, uncool.

So, no Tyga we ain’t mad because you’re winnin’ ,we’re mad because of lyrics like yours, our children are losin’.

Although, school is out for the summer we have to admit that for Hip Hop, school has been out for decades. It’s time ring the bell and yell “class is back in session.”

A generation ago, KRS One proclaimed “the age of the ignorant rapper is done.” Unfortunately, we’ve been singin’ that same song for 20 summers.

Maybe this year, KRS. Maybe this year....

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is This Ain’t Hip Hop: a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at (919) 308-4233 or email His website is Follow on Twitter @truthminista

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Syndicated Hip Hop Column Starts Next Week

Starting next week, "This Ain't Hip Hop: the column for intelligent Hip Hop headz will become syndicated. If your website, newspaper or radio show would like to subscribe contact or (919) 308-4233