Celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop - from hell or heaven?
This year we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop. The controversy still rages on, was it from hell or heaven? Was it good or was it bad? Like most subjects and issues in life the answer probably lies in both hell and heaven. Some good, some bad. God initiates the positive but we interject the negative.
The truth is hip-hop has been around for more than 50 years, as we shall see as we proceed. The rhythm, sound, poetry, movement, vibrations and creativity was in Africa long before we ever arrived on the shores of the Americas; before the slave ships ever came to Africa. (I just attended a conference, one of the awardees was Doctor David Daniels. He is a widely recognized author particularly in the church world. He pointed out in his presentation that Europeans did not bring Christianity to Africa, but Christianity was in Africa before Europeans. arrived the enslaved Africans brought Christianity with them on the slave ships and thus to America).
They brought many other positive, creative endeavors including the origin of hip hop. What I'd like to do is finish the article I was writing entitled the challenges of Tupac’s memory, November 9, 1976 and then I want to share with you a chapter from my book” A Seed planted in stone, the life and times of Tupac Shakur”. I wrote this when I learned that Tupac was dead. Tupac and his mother, his aunt Gloria, his sister Sekyiwa all joined our church, the House of the Lord church, when he was about 11 or 12 years old.
In addition, this Cosmo Rhythmic Essence (CRE) enables us to fight back to make revolution. When Tupac joined our church, I asked him what he wanted to be. He said, “I want to be a revolutionary”. When he said “me against the world” he was partly wrong because it's “ us against the world,” against the demonic decadence of this society. But the CRE which inspired the fight back rap of Tupac was the same CRE that inspired his ancestors and all the strugglers.
Listen!! My Lord, what a morning when the stars began to fall. Satan, your Kingdom must come down. Those were songs of slave days, sharecropping, segregation, times when the Racist were more open, more blatant and more vicious, and it was necessary to sing in codes about our hopes and plans for freedom as they had to be kept in super secrecy. In more recent times we sang, We shall overcome and Piggy Piggy, Piggy, you can go, which was sung by the Black Panther Party.
Who can deny that to a perilous degree, this is a sex obsessed, drug intoxicated, and I'm not just referring to crack and heroin but to the pills we need to get us up and keep us going and put us to sleep at night. This is a violent-crazed, pleasure driven, bigoted, materialistic society! We didn't make it that way. Tupac didn't make it that way. The Rappers didn't make it that way. The youth didn't make it that way.
Unfortunately and tragically, we mirror what we hear, see and have been taught by the larger society. Now we understand better why Tupac had written across his torso, Thug Life which means: The, Hate, YoU, Give - Little, Infants, F**k, Everybody. Yes, Tupac, our son, it is not you alone against the world but it is your mother and your father. It is your forefathers, it's me, it's all of us against the evils of society. Us against the world! Finally, in the name of God, our mothers and fathers and all of our people, past, present, and in the name of Tupac, let us be against the world and stop being against ourselves. Let us lay our sword and shield down by the Riverside and study war no more. Let us put away our Tech Nines and our Oozies and make peace once and for all. Marvin Gaye asked, “What’s going on? If we must be competitive, let's go back to the old ways. Let's see who is the baddest rapper. Who's got the beat? Who's got poetry? Who's got the rhythm?
If we rose to that challenge, we would push each other to new heights of creativity and all of us would be the winners across the length and breadth of this land. Our hearts are broken, eyes are weeping and we ask what can we give and do? How shall we remember Tupac? The greatest gift we can give Tupac Shakur is to give ourselves to God and to each other. All of us individually and collectively commit to being and doing all that we can be and do.