The day the music died

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 5, 2007

On many occasions I receive e-mails or phone calls telling me how brave I am to address certain topics in public.

While I do appreciate the sentiment, my feeling is that I am not necessarily courageous for speaking the truth.

I would be failing myself if I kept quiet however.

Unfortunately, most of the time I don’t feel as though my readers are actually paying attention when I do approach a sensitive topic.

So I’ve begun addressing my columns in more depth in my blog, which you are free to read at

Understand that these are extensions of my column not endorsed or edited by the News Herald.

I am a product of the original hip-hop generation. While growing up in the Bronx, I watched the birth of rap music before there was ever a rap record.

I knew all the early pioneers of rap as they used to come perform in my housing project on 143rd and Willis Avenue.

My block in the Bronx was no joke; I watched my father get stabbed once and collapse right in front of my brother and I as he tried to make it to the fire station.

My friend Lamont and I had to jump out of the way of bullets when two guys were shot to death in the lobby of my building when I was ten years old.

I saw a woman who was just in a car accident get shot in the head by the driver of the car that she hit, in a case of road rage that almost turned horribly wrong when the shooter turned his gun and pointed it at me and my friends who happened to be onlookers.

Fortunately for us he decided not to shoot, but rather try and make an escape.

When I hear today’s rap artists claim to be hardcore, I don’t feel the same authenticity because most of today’s youth violence is generated by drug culture gone awry.

I explained in the Column &uot;The Beef Bacon Theory&uot; how the cocaine trade is facilitated by the U.S. Government, which makes mandatory sentencing a double slap to minorities (read about it on my web page).

There are still some rap artists with something positive and or insightful to say and if any of you were inclined to listen to them you’d be surprised at the level of awareness displayed by some of today’s rappers.

Case in point check out this gem by The Roots on the song &uot;It don’t feel right&uot;

&uot;Children working

weapon producing,

natural disasters got the planet in a panic,

but ya’ll go to make that livin’

sex, drugs, murder, politics and religion,

forms of hustlin’,

watch who you put all your trust in,

world-wide we coincide with who’s sufferin’,

who never had jack and ain’t got nothin’

but most are strugglin’

and if you want to run up in the (explicative)

with guns on for a piece of the cake back,

if I can’t work for it,

I can certainly take that,

I’m fired up thinking about the pay back ASAP,

You mess around and be an enemy of the state black.

Ill, but that be too real for T.V.,

It’s crazy when you too real to be free,

If you ain’t got no money then steal the CD,

Listen man I let you know how it feels

To be me.&uot;

That’s poetry.

Poetry which explains the way many disenfranchised youth view the world around them.

I opened my first book with a poem call &uot;Absird Speaks&uot;, which sums up my experiences in this life, particularly the United States.

&uot;I get sick of big brother’s English, so I speak slang and Ebonics,

creating new organisms with electronics.

Everybody else is hooked on phonics,

Brainwashed by the devil,

Upset with me because I’m level.

They say that I’m insane,

They use morality to penetrate my membrane,

It’s psuedo culture, I swoop down just like a vulture,

A bird of prey, leading the way,

For all of those the status quo would slay.

They’re all fanatics.

I use literary acrobatics to preach my sermon,

So it can’t be decoded by the vermin,

The unaware, that would stop and stare at my light,

Telling the animals they’ve got the right,

To speak, opposing thumbs got them feeling weak.

I guess it’s in the scripture,

But before words there were pictures,

And they told a different story, and the end was not so hunky dory.

So who knows more?

The preachers or the writers?

The teachers or the humorist reciters?

I see ya’ll at the concerts flicking lighters,

But I’ve got eternal flame,

And soon you will all know my name.&uot;

Now that’s music, to somebody anyway.

Peace, holla back.