Posts Tagged ‘music’

Carlton Fletcher’s Albany Herald column about two Albanys got me thinking about two Sylvesters, two Camillas, two DCs and two Bulldog nations.  Fletcher is one of Albany State’s first non-minority football players which would actually make him a majority player at a minority school—look the dude came from Ocilla to Albany because he wanted an education and he loved playing sports.

This blog loves Fletcher because he keeps it real.  The guy once wrote about the term “bus left” from our childhood.  He is a bridge-builder and you know this blog has a metaphorical bridge as a logo.  In a recent article, Fletcher talked about the Albany downtown where he works and the northwest Albany/part Lee County where others live and spend.  This situation makes me think about the Police’s song “One World Is Enough For All of Us” in which Sting sang “we can’t sink while others float because we are all in the same big boat.”


People now make money in Albany then cross Ledo Road (literally Lee Dougherty line) to eat, shop and sleep away from….you know.  It’s sometimes called White flight but there is a lot of Blacks doing the same.  Hey, you can’t blame someone from running from rough stats about the inter-city but I happen to love downtown areas more than strips of national food chains with little character. The solution for downtown Albany will come when hundreds of college students, Marines and young professionals actually live in lofts downtown….high ceilings, exposed bricks, old wooden floors, walk home after partying.  When I was an intern in the downtown development office, I told them that in 1988 but it never happened.



Small towns like Sylvester have been traditionally separated by a train track and if you came up on the wrong side of that track, you might want to catch a train heading anywhere else.  In 1981, there was a movie called “The Night the Lights When out in Georgia” and at the end, Kristy McNichol’s character said, “I am not sure where I am going but I am in a hurry to get there.”

I was never in a hurry to get out of Sylvester, the town that turned the swimming pool into a tennis court to keep us from swimming.  I have been playing tennis on those courts for 40 years…so there.  With all the ugliness in the world, the calmness of the hometown sounds pretty good and with high speed internet, many professionals can do their jobs from anywhere.  Forrest Gump brought his money home and so should others.  Donald Trump is right in stating that we don’t make anything in America anymore and the Sylvester of my youth was about making crops and textiles.  To me, current Sylvester is a bedroom community of Tifton and Albany and that’s fine.

The Mayor of Sylvester is Bill Yearta and he sat in my den (under the framed pictures of my daddy and President Obama) and politely listened to every gripe I had about Sylvester dating back to that swimming pool drama.  Yearta took that heat for hours like current congressman Sanford Bishop and former congressman Jack Kingston like taking heat from people who they know aren’t going to vote for them.

I didn’t vote for Yearta but he gain tons of respect for listening to my explanation…hell, he should be a congressman.  Elected officials and public servants execute their official duties but they have unofficial roles that some don’t understand.  Does Bill Yearta do a good job on his official administrative oversight duties?  Yes, he is likely the best mayor in this town’s history in that regard.  Unofficially, you sometimes need a mayor who can encourage the citizens in aspects of life that aren’t directly about government i.e. pull up your pants, get off the corners, congrats on being a clean-cut kid, let’s not refight the Civil War.

Another old friend ran against Yearta twice and I jokingly called him the unofficial mayor of south Sylvester because he was a tireless advocate for this side of the tracks.  I was wrong for that because there is one Sylvester and Bill Yearta is the properly elected mayor.  There is one America and Obama is the president.  Some folks don’t seem to know that.


When I was in DC, delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton pointed out that Washington policemen and firefighters were living in Virginia and Maryland.  While they have a right to live where they want, having public safety personnel on your street is like having a police or fire sub station there.  There are two DCs and the big DC is controlled by Blacks.  One group making decisions without input from everyone is wrong.

Bulldog Nations

While this blog post is too long, I want to finish by remembering the divide created when Hershel Walker left the University of Georgia for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals.  How could Hershel do that to us?  I had my room assignment in Creswell Hall and looked forward to being a junior transfer student about to experience winning a national championship as a sports fan.  But, Bulldog Nation got so ugly when that young man decided that he wanted to secure his family’s financial future by turning pro.  Black folks understood because Stanford stadium seems like a plantation and I looked side-eye when Walker said, “I can carry the ball a bunch of times a game….it ain’t heavy”  Really?

We should remember that Walker’s exit was arranged by Donald Trump, the owner of the New Jersey Generals.  Trump burnt Georgia like Sherman.  While watching a recent PBS documentary on General William Tecumseh Sherman, I learned that the general who burned Atlanta became friends with several Confederate generals.  Southern General Joseph E. Johnston was a pallbearer at Sherman’s funeral.  The UGA family loves Hershel today; he is one of the school’s favorite graduates but can those people vote for Trump after he cost us a second national championship.

Summary: From politics to football back to politics, a house divided cannot stand.  I use to think Abraham Lincoln wrote that before the Civil War but when I started reading the Bible more I learned Mark 3:25 says “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  Elected officials should seek to bring people together and find reasonable solutions rather than inadvertently dividing us.

Comin’ Home

You know Georgia is open for business—always has been.  Remember, during the roughest parts of the Civil Rights Movement, Black and White leaders in Atlanta would quietly meet and resolved issues with money and economic development in mind.  Refighting the Civil War seems like fun to some until they realize that new industry doesn’t want to locate in a place with social disorder.

Atlanta’s Lewis Grizzard wrote that once he got back to Georgia he was going to nail his feet to the ground.  Brother, I have been there and it usually involved a messed up stomach in the developing world.  You don’t miss ole Georgia until you are somewhere else.  When altitude sickness had my head spinning in Manta, Ecuador, I thought about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Coming Home.”  Yea, those confederate flag-loving southern rockers are my homeboys too. Their “Gold & Platinum” greatest hit cd is one of my all-time favorites behind Thriller, the Police’s Synchronicity and the Gentler Side of John Coltrane.

Problem-solvers listen to all sides of the issue and seek a common ground.  Listen.  Who knew that in Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd sang “in Birmingham, they loved the governor…boo boo boo.”  So this Florida band was booing George Wallace….well, dam.

Anyway south Georgia is open for business and all those classmates who had successful careers elsewhere can retire to the warmth of the southern sun.  Luke Bryan can romanticize in song about south Georgia and we do ride in trucks but the next generation seems a little aimless at times.  Rather than talking about them, let’s talk with them because they could be heading backwards.

At the end of the day, I hope candidates for local, state and national offices read and take something positive from this blog’s Best Interest Initiative.  Those nine blog post are deep.


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Best Interest Initiative: T.V. and Social Media Influence

Media: T.V.’s high channels; Net and TV as educational tools; Classic TV as a model for family life; positive usage of social media

We must acknowledge the profound effect television, the internet and other forms of new media have on the shaping of our lives.  Gone are the days when country folks raised their rural children based on home, church and school alone.   As a boy, we looked forward to annual visits from our cousins from Philly because they knew the “latest.”  Today, fashion, cultural and social trends are beamed around the globe instantaneously and often without parents’ knowledge.

Educational T.V.: Television is a very powerful educational tool—for good and bad.  I cringe at the notion that people in the American heartland formulate their views on Blacks and Hispanics from watching the Maury Show and music videos.   The same could be said about non-southerners learning about rural Whites from that Honey Boo Boo reality mess.

Reasonable people should be intelligent enough to know that T.V. characters and reality show exaggerations are not accurate reflections of real life.  On a positive side, the high channels on T.V. provide detail knowledge of every academic field and much much more.  A kid who wants to be a lawyer can a develop pretty good understanding of the law from watching Court T.V., Cops, Law and Order and C-Span.  The Food Channel teaches people how to prepare restaurant quality meals at home for pennies on the dollar.  Car nuts and grease monkeys can watch automobile programming to their hearts content.   Of course, the internet and You tube is like the best interactive learning resource ever.

Classic T.V.: From a public policy standpoint, we must admit that many people grow up in less than ideal environments.  Prisons are filled by people who no one showed the path to peaceful, positive living.  If use wisely, certain t.v. shows can assist parents in child-rearing.

As a kid, I loved watching the life lessons on old shows like Leave It To Beaver and Bonanza but those people didn’t look like me.  The game changed when the Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Family Matters hit the box.  The Huxtables showed all of America that Blacks could be high level professionals and Family Matters did the same on a middle class style.  Actually, Good Times was as helpful as Cosby.  While the character of J.J. was silly, James and Florida Evans raised great kids in a rough environment.   Because prime time T.V. today is messy junk, kids should sit down and watch the classics with their families as a model for wholesome family life.

Social Media: Facebook isn’t necessarily the devil and You Tube can be educational.   Like any tools, social media can be used for positive or negative reasons.  Another section of this project went into details about youth wanting to emulate thugs, pimps, dealers and strippers from music videos.  Well, those influences are injected into impressionable minds by T.V. and the internet.  Again, people with jacked-up lives soon turn to the government for assistance.

At the end of the day, no medium should have a stronger role in child development than family.

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Hip Hop and Rap music are original American art forms and artists should be free to express themselves in any medium.  I am not for censorship of whatever music adults choose to enjoy.  This discussion is important on a political/governance blog because people make choices surrounding musical sub-cultures and the government is left to deal with the financial consequences.

In communities, we should be mindful that music can play a serious role in the development of young minds and establishment of value systems.  Since colonial days, older Americans have been concerned with the messages in music.  It seems that some current artists/entertainers inadvertently lead the youth down a negative path.  But, old people were once young people and our parents had issues with Prince, AC/DC, Rick James etc.

I contend that the situation is much worse today than 30 years ago because technology can pump all kinds of thoughts into Junior’s ears while all we had was Soul Train and Bandstand.

Proper Context: People can listen to any music in its proper context. It’s art; it’s entertainment. If you stand on a strong moral foundation, exposure to ideas from music wouldn’t dramatically change who you are.  We loved Prince and still love him but I never wore eyeliner or a Captain Crunch Pirate coat.  Early rap gave urban youth an opportunity to battle with words and dance.  Later, the gangsta rap of N.W.A. and Tupac explained the problems of some urban youth in a useful way.  Again, the proper context was kids speaking about their circumstances and that’s why the L.A. riots were foretold by N.W.A. and Ice Cube.

N.W.A. was art imitating life.  As middle-aged parents, the living members of N.W.A. (rest in peace Eazy-E) have their children and grandchildren in safe, comfortable environments—gated communities with cul-de-sacs.  They want better for their kids and prisoners generally want better for their families also.

When real money came into the rap culture, the whole game changed.  People would do or say anything to make more cash…with no regard for societal effects.  Kids from good families made hardcore changes to their vibes to get a record deal.  It was life imitating art to the point that many college students (black, white, brown and yellow) can’t be distinguished from common thugs and street walkers.  As Gil Scott Heron said about another matter “it’s the ultimate realization of the inmates running the asylum.”  But, in this case, the asylum is the whole community.  Senior citizens lock themselves inside their modest homes and dare say a word about the kids with no shirts across the street blasting filth that would make the devil blush.

School kids seek to emulate pimps and pushers rather than positive, law-abiding members of the community.  Rap videos actually have some youth ignoring education and training because the millions they plan to make in the hip hop culture will be much easier.  Of course, a person who develops expensive taste without money soon considers illegal money-making options.

Understand, hip hop is a culture—not just music.  It’s a way of life that involves dress and speech.  Lord have mercy on my community because too many kids are spending their formative years ignoring the foundations of a healthy family, career and home.  Instead, they are making themselves less employable if not unemployable—really, these fools are deployable.  Hey, we had wild phases in our youth but most activities didn’t have permanent consequences.  “NowhatI’msayin…Nowhati’msayin..naw meen.”

Of course, I am talking about the negative section of the hip hop culture and the positive section would be my selection if I was young today.  I recently listened to a Breakfast Club radio interview with Kanye West. When Charlemagne told West that he should go where he is “celebrated not tolerated,” I thought about my community and both major political parties but we aren’t going there.  When West said he listens to advice from Jay-Z and musical cues from new rappers, Charlemagne said that the Bible teaches “Old men for counsel; young men for war.”

1 Kings 12:8 But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him. 

I love thinking about King Rehoboam’s situation and the current hip hop culture. This guy was the son of Solomon and the people asked him to make their yoke lighter.  The old guys told him to speak good words to them and they would be his servants forever.  But, Rehoboam listened to the guys his age and made the yoke heavier.  When I was young, I would hang with the fellows but the real advice for living came from those older gentlemen and ladies.  In college, I was listening to seniors, grad students, professors and young professionals because listening to other young folks primarily would be like the blind leading the blind.

If people don’t have solid elders in their corners, they live aimlessly and take advise from hip hop music.

I have lived in the “hood” a few times in life but I was never ghetto enough to love the struggle.  Like the yoke in the Bible passage, the struggle can be one’s circumstance.  Blacks in the South were generally striving for a better life…what’s the plan….what’s the good news?  To be frank, those who loved being ignorant and those who loved struggling were avoided.

Today, music executives who are only interested in revenue promote ignorant entertainers (I won’t call them artists) who will do or say everything negative to get more money.  As a result, we have a generation of youth influenced by ignorant peers more so than parents, the church or school.  They love the struggle as a way of life and being incarcerated seems like a badge of courage.  We know old prisoners begged the youth not the make the mistakes they made.

At times, it seems that the worst element of hip hop has a more detrimental impact on the community than the Klan.  Chuck D and Public Enemy in 1991 had an interlude after the song “Shut em Down” in which “Bernie Crosshouse” of the Klan thanks negative Blacks for destroying the community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nskZM74NKkc  (at 4:30 mark)

I’d like to express our deepest gratitude at the destruction of the inferior n****r race, and I’m especially pleased to report that it’s destroying itself without our help. To all you gangs, hoodlums, drug pushers and users, and other worthless n-ggers killing each other, we’d like to thank y’all for saving us the time, trouble and legality for the final chapter of ridding y’all off the face of the earth. Your solution to our problem is greatly appreciated. So keep selling us your soul. Thank yuh

It turns out P.E. was correct in creating Crosshouse because certain elements of the community have us on self-destruct mode and hip hop music often glamorizes these elements.  That glamorization isn’t necessarily a problem for the strong, grounded and well-balanced. But, folks who are weaker, people with questionable home training and unfortunately people who raised themselves (the half-raised) will be influenced by the street from these lyrics and hypnotic beats.

Club friends: In homes where youth are trained with deliberation, kids learn the levels of friendship because some people allow kid’s exposure to explicit activities before middle school.  A young adult can kick it on the dance floor with wild friends but coming over to the table and hanging outside the club is a different matter.  To cut to the chase, some folks take sub-cultures created by music (gangster rap, heavy metal, goth) too far.  The artist themselves will admit that much of the image is pure fantasy but some people get wrapped up.

So, parents are teaching one thing and the hipsters on the corner are teaching something else.  Dam, the lyrics said this would happen.  Not a problem…just fire up a phat blunt and tune those haters out.

Solutions: We must have an honest and frank discussion about music and cultural decisions and possible impacts on individuals, the community and the nation. Paul from the Bible wrote a righteous second letter to the church at Thessalonica.  I should have been reading this in my youth rather than listening to the same rap cds over and over but that rap had a message.

2nd Thessalonians 3:10-15 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that any would not work, neither should he eat.  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.  But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.

And if any may obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 

Yes, we still love our wayward brothers and sisters including those of other colors. But if you are recreationally wreaking the community, I don’t too much mess with you—the disorderly need to get on the right path.  When people in old age look back at their lives, they often find that they were their own worst enemy and some of the people they chose to be around brought drama and struggle into their world.  The soundtrack to that drama might have been questionable music.

Since I got a little too preachy, I would finish this writing by saying thank heaven for the positive cool rappers of my youth—Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Brand Nubian, Rakim. I shouldn’t leave out the educational messages from rougher rappers like Tupac, Biggie and N.W.A. because Ice Cube was a poet before he became America’s dad.  See, people grow up and the sooner that happens, the better you will be.  The following are examples of the rap that I loved in the past and you should notice that rap from the 80s and 90s often sampled 60s and 70s R&B music.  That’s called respect.

P.E.- Shut em Down        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wOcOBjB3uU

LL Cool J – The Breakthrough      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0mk_RgA8-0&list=RDN0mk_RgA8-0

See, I fought with the devil, made a promise to God
I have experience in goin’ all the way to the top
It’s harder harder than hard all the suckers are barred
You used to try to talk down now your ego is scarred

See the problem is you want what another man has
His car, his wife, or his razzamatazz
But that’s weak, you gotta do work on your own
‘Cuz when you’re rich you got friends but when you’re poor you’re alone
So get your own on your own, it’ll strengthen your soul
Stop livin’ off your parents like you’re three years old
Instead of walkin’ like you’re limp and talkin’ yang about me
Why don’t you take your monkey-ass and get a college degree?

Or write a rhyme and ride a bike and try to live carefree
Hope my message reaches you before you’re seventy-three
A old man, when people ask you what you did with your life
You’ll say “I hated L.L. and I carried a big knife”
Brand Nubian- Slow Down https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAvetlQbrA8

Public Enemy – Brothers Gonna Work It Out  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHxkPNx23Og

Eric B and Rakim – Move the Crowd     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyl_j0g9AwU

Gang Starr – Jazz Thing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is5xMd1nT5o

Guru – No Time To Play         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09WzUhMZmFo

Brandy – I Wanna Be Down (Remix) (feat. Mc Lyte, YoYo & Queen Latifah  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LthQLQMilvo

2Pac – Keep Ya Head Up  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfXwmDGJAB8

2pac – I Ain’t Mad At Cha       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt1XjVdyJ6o

The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy”                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JZom_gVfuw

3rd Bass “Pop Goes The Weasel”      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzXI_ApY4dY

MC Hammer – Pray   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xNSgBkum7o

MC Hammer – Turn This Mutha Out  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74OBaLLi3tY

Grandmaster Flash- The Message     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4o8TeqKhgY

Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force – Planet Rock  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lDCYjb8RHk

Afrika Bambaataa – Looking for the Perfect Beat  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RJlYzBhLg4

OutKast – Player’s Ball            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFofKGKlWo4

Ludacris ft Field Mob & Jamie Foxx-Georgia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZW_VgFXm_w

Master P “Make’em Say UGH” ‌‌https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5ZvzIOO6aU

House Of Pain – “Jump Around”        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZaz7OqyTHQ

RUN DMC HARD TIMES      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO2cakSiqDQ

Self Destruction          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxyYP_bS_6s

NEWCLEUS – JAM ON IT     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEmg5GaAHbk

De La Soul – Me, Myself And I           https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJEzEDMqXQQ

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BONgL61snlM

A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6oO-1iWc1c

De La Soul “Buddy” ‌‌   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F69dt5clGPo

Black Sheep – The Choice Is Yours   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9F5xcpjDMU

Digable Planets – Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM4kqL13jGM

Arrested Development – Tennessee  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VCdJyOAQYM

PM Dawn – Set A Drift On Memory Bliss      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5lByFc7HiM

Queen Latifah ft. Monie Love – Ladies First   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLB5bUNAesc

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Surprisingly, I agree with the rapper Two Chainz’s preoccupation with “I’m different.” We need some different mindsets in many aspects of our public and private lives because what has happen in the past simply isn’t fair, isn’t working and has us on a path to destruction.

Politicians: I have been waiting for two decades for a new type southerner officeholder/policymaker.  We need leaders who will tell the people the cold, hard facts—straight, no chaser; the good, the bad and the ugly.  A congressman or woman who goes to every community, builds trust, then sits on the tailgate of a pickup truck and tells the God’s honest truth about pulling everything on the fiscal table.

I have never been a fan of conservative columnist Cal Thomas but last month he wrote a classic about conservatives needing to “show up.”  The late Rep. Jack Kemp would show up in every neighborhood and people could sense his sincerity. Former RNC chairman Michael Steele tried to create a new subsection of conservatives who regularly dialoged with the other side and with regular non Republican folks but the Tea Party Movement wasn’t having that kind of different.

Tea Party People: America would be better off if those people weren’t so ticked off.  Their fiscal and governmental concerns are valid but being angry isn’t healthy or helpful.  Look, Black people have every right to be pissed with our bondage history in this nation but we (like the Native Americans) can’t carry that bitterness in our hearts.  The issues that have the Tea Partiers upset is still a pebble when compared to the boulder of slavery but we all need to make peace and move forward with positive energy.

Southern Youth: While this blog post started with Two Chainz I must take issue with the mindset of our kids.  The glamorization of thugs and strippers found in today’s hip hop is (in my opinion) is moving Black folks backwards.  In my neighborhood, the clean-cut kids with belts on their pants who speak English properly are different and I am so cheering for them.  The “yes, sir..no,sir” young ladies in my town are the remnants of our southern Black elegance.  That elegance is what we saw in the movie “The Help.”  I wrote a blog post once about Justice Clarence Thomas’s book about his grandfather.  Thomas’s grandfather didn’t like the government having the right to ask questions about what happens in his house.  I love that.


Hell, I will tell you about two chains.  The first chain was wrought iron and put by masters around the necks of slaves.  The second chains, which are golden, are in current times and put around the necks of slaves by slaves themselves.  I am different because I haven’t worn chains or any precious metal jewelry since 1979.  We need music like “De La Soul is on a roll…Black medallions…no gold.”  Two Chainz says “I wish a N-word would…like a kitchen cabinet.”  I wish the youth would watch our hip hop on VH1 Soul then view a Cosby Show marathon.


In summary, I hope that we create a movement of different in my community because what we are doing and where we are heading isn’t working.  We spend too much energy and time on the wrong things then struggle and suffer as a result.  All I want for my birthday is some guys who don’t reference to women as big booty garden tools. While Two Chainz says “me and you are cut from a different fabric,” I say that we are all woven into the same tapestry.

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Is hip hop taking us backwards?  I loved this art form in my youth but it seems (correct me if I am wrong) that young people are emulating the worst elements of society.  Slaves wanted freedom and that freedom didn’t really come until the 1970s. 

At church Sunday, the pastor, a veteran of the struggle, started his sermon by saying that freedom doesn’t give you the right to do just anything. We are still ticked that someone broke the windows at church. Did he really refer to the culprits as “devils” in a prayer the morning we discovered the vandalism.  Yeap..I like the pastor…he has teeth. 

My definition of “teeth” in the public policy arena is policy that has bite or a consequence element.  For example, healthcare reform might have had a provision stating that if I cross the 50 pounds overweight mark, they aren’t spending money and effort  saving me from me. “We saw you at Golden Corral putting in work.”

Dr. Martin Luther King paraphrased the Biblical prophet Amos when he said, “We are determined here in Montgomery to fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”  A quick glance at hip hop history’s use of water/rain takes me from Oran Juice Jones’ “Standing in the Rain” to Boys To Men “Can You Stand the Rain.”  My brother-in-law in N.C. used that last song as his sermon title the first time I heard him preach. 

Today’s hip hop has a tune by Atlanta rapper Travis Porter called “Make It Rain” and the beat is bumping.  But (oh my goodness), a sista (the fruit that blossomed on the African tree) comes in stating, “You want to see some –ss, I want to see some cash.”  Making It Rain involves rich cats going into the night or strip club, standing in the D.J booth and making it rain money.  You Tube videos show rain events with six figures going in six seconds.  To be honest, we had the Too Live Crew back in the day but that was a novelty.  We were in college or the military to improve our families’ situation…to move forward.

If you walk down a college campus today, the dress and vibe of some of the students would alarm you.  Some college students are making a concerted effort to be as thug-like and stripper-like as possible—including my college classmates’ kids who grew up in nurturing environments.  We are moving backwards on some level and since hip hop involves Black, White, Red and Brown, the drama knows no boundaries.    

If you don’t believe me, you can get shocked on the webpage WorldStarhiphop.com.  Since I gave up on most new rap music a few years ago, I don’t watch the videos introduced on WorldStar but the homemade cellphone videos of people fighting in public are disturbing.  We are talking brawls in Pizza Hut and mothers fighting in the street.  Colin Powell said we need to reinstitute the concept of shame and I agree.   When the fights start, the camera person often says “Worldstarhiphop…this is going on Worldstarhiphop.”

We were radical in college but we could talk with political and community leaders when we broke out the khakis, ties and blazers .  If I were in college today, I would be listening to Oakland rapper KHARI because he has teeth.   He drop one called “Thickness” about curvy women that has the interest of my college classmates who are now in their 40s.  The guy is a poet like L.L. and Chuck D so listen with caution to his track “The Beast” which is about Black men in prison.  He makes some thought-provoking points but the Oakland police must be much worst that the okay rural police in my town.  KHARI is a conspiracy theorist who seems to think that prisons and the justice system are designed to make money locking up “just us.”

Hip hop is an original American art form and the current rappers are worrying my generation like our generations’ rappers must have worried our parents, preachers and professors. I swear art isn’t imitating life—life is imitating art and pulling us down.  Are they reversing past gains?   When I see the current pol sci majors at my HCBU, I am going to recommend that they checkout L.L. Cool J.’s “The Breakthrough.”  We knew that L.L. was different and that he would be having a positive impact on American culture for years.  LL is hard and has teeth but it was well-intended.  What’s the intention of today’s rapper$?

The Breakthrough: LL Cool J

Knuckleheads spreadin’ gossip all over town
Every time I drive by you’re just standin’ around
Hundred-bottles in your pocket, forty-dog in your hand
Don’t you know you’re just a worker and your boss is my man?
L.L. this, L.L. that, soon as I walk in the place
I wanna take my gun and shoot you in your muthaf-ckin’ face
You’re playin’ me too close with the schemin’ and games
I guess the beef and the bullsh-t is the price of fame
Movies, records, goin’ on tour
Twenty-thousand people hip-hoppin’ on the floor
Whole parties body-rockin’, and everything’s chill
Get back to New York, and the suckers act ill
See I fought with the devil, made a promise to God
I have experience in goin’ all the way to the top
It’s harder harder than hard
All the suckers are barred
You used to try to talk down now your ego is scarred
See the problem is you want what another man has
His car, his wife, or his razzamatazz
But that’s weak, you gotta do work on your own
cuz when you’re rich you got friends
but when you’re poor you’re alone
So get your own on your own, it’ll strengthen your soul
Stop livin’ off your parents like you’re three years old
Instead of walkin’ like you’re limp and talkin’ yang about me
why don’t you take your monkey-ass and get a college degree?
Or write a rhyme and ride a bike and try to live carefree
Hope my message reaches you before you’re seventy-three
A old man, when people ask you what you did with your life
you’ll say “I hated L.L. and I carried a big knife”
Every day is a chase, every day is a race
and every day you’re being overpowered by my bass
Too much juice to be a deuce, I had to be a ace
It’s like the fire’s in my eyes and the gun’s in my face
I’m stompin’ stupid knuckleheads until they bleed
I’m the leader of the show, so it’s up to me to lead
I’mma lead you away from drugs and petty crime
Lead you away from wack beats and rhyme
Lead you to that ticket line
so you can come in my show and watch the stars shine
Get busy, not dizzy, wanna teach the young
The last man who didn’t listen ended up gettin’ hung
Not that I killed him, it’s just
He didn’t wanna trust
the words of a master that’s why you must
Take heed to the speech, it’s gonna reach your ear
Don’t try to say you can’t hear cuz the words are clear
Throwin’ flurries, punks scurry and I bury the rest
You better hurry up and rock a rhyme and give it your best
Cuz tonight’s the night we gonna see the big fight
Twelve-gauge on the stage in case it don’t go right
E-Love drives a tank, he’s strong like a truck
If you’re cryin’ while you’re dyin’ we ain’t givin’ a f-ck
L.L. Cool J is on the microphone
tellin’ all you punk ducks “Leave me the hell alone”
Cuz I’m rated X, born to snap necks
Straight up and down, no special effects
I’m the professor, the teacher, the hip-hop dean
If Russia bombed the U.S., they’d be scared to touch Queens
Cuz that’s where I live, and this is what I give
Turnin’ top-notch crews into fugitives
They run, they frightened, they hide from King Titan
like a sniper when he’s shootin’ or a viper when he’s bitin’
Here I am, tellin’ the truth
and I’m spreadin’ the word to my fellow youth
It goes man-to-man and jam-to-jam
I got hip-hop, rock, and love song fans
All you petty MC’s in the state of New York
Gettin’ a thousand for a show but you still wanna squawk
Can’t get a decent contract, your beats ain’t workin’
Dogged-out Pumas plus you’re manager’s jerkin’
Your mic sounds weak, remember that skeezer
I’m badder than Napoleon, Hitler or Caesar
I’m a hitman, but I’m not for hire
Fly girl’s desire, the man you admire
Not only on the stage, I rock in the park
and I’m a killer in the daytime, and worse after dark
So don’t never ever mess with the king of the sound
L.L. Cool J, the baddest around.

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Like Jill Scott, Angie Stone and Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu is a straight-up artist who puts a message in her music and compels us to think.  Her new song “Window Seat” blew me away and even included a nod to blues guitar great Lightning Hopkins.  I am proud to say that Hopkins has been featured on the music tab on this blog since day one.  Badu will always leave you thinking.  What’s with the JFK assassination vibe in the video?  Could I date a sista with that many tats on that beautiful brown skin?  Has Badu aged a day? 

She ends the video with a monologue that seems to be aimed at some extreme elements from her native Texas but I better leave that alone.   Wouldn’t it be cool to sit on a back porch in the Lone Star state with Badu and her friends and have a long island ice tea party featuring music by Sam Lightning Hopkins.  I would love to attend that Tea Party.  

so, in my mind I’m tusslin’

back and forth ‘tween here and hustlin’

I don’t wanna time travel no mo

I wanna be here

I’m thinking

on this porch I’m rockin’

back and forth light lightning Hopkins

if anybody speak to Scotty

tell him beam me up….


Window Seat—Badu


Sam Lightning Hopkins

UPDATE: What the hell.  I thought Badu did that video as a “shoot” with actors.  It turns out that she just did it with tourists and kids walking around.  That might be a little too much.  Below is the speech she makes at the end of the video.

They play it safe, are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups; less guilt to swallow. They are us; this is what we have become, afraid to respect the individual. A single person within our circumstance can move one to change, to love herself, to evolve.

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