With the endless stream of activism stemming from the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, it is quite saddening to see, that aside from a few coordinated cameos……today’s band of mainstream hip-hop idols have had no bona fide presence in the OWS campaign for social and economic equality.
Previous generation of hip-hop artists commonly used their music to chronicle events of their lives and communities. What was also notable, were those who used music as a tool to promote awareness and enrich peoples’ lives. Present day hip-hop is quite different from earlier times and there are rarely any substantive messages in music nowadays. Today, the airwaves are filled with songs that mostly refer to getting rich, partying, dancing or some other inglorious act. Not only are these songs strikingly opposite to those of past times, but it’s also opposite to the attitude of the OWS campaign. Unlike the earlier pioneers who did do the right thing, artists like Public Enemy, Krs-1, X Clan, Nas, Mos Def, Wyclef, Poor Righteous Teachers, etc., promoted awareness unlike what we see from today’s mainstream rap artists who have not hit the airwaves yet to address the politics and issues of the moment.
… isnt it odd having millionaires protesting alongside the occupiers?
The hypocrisy stemming from the rallies surrounds the intentions of a few of the bigwig protestors. Moreover, you have to consider, isnt it odd having millionaires protesting alongside the occupiers? It seems to contradict the very basis of the protest; and exactly how do millionaires rappers relate to the economic hardship felt by those whom identify with the 99%?
Although it is positive to see a few notable figureheads take part in the protests, their presence begs the question; how are they there supporting the demonstrations? Could they captured by the sensation of the movement? Perhaps, they are there to promote one of their own capitalistic endeavors.
Rocawear, the clothing line started by hip-hop’s biggest artist and mogul Jay Z, recently decided to pull the plug on one of its own OWS inspired tee shirts given that the public learned that the company had no intentions to financially support the movement, even though they were clearly profiting from it. Moreover, even though fans and occupiers expressed their dissatisfaction with Rocawear, Russell Simmons defiantly defended the company’s unpopular business decision.
As ambiguous as this movement is shaping out to be, what is undeniable is, cash rules everything and for better or worse, capitalist (including today’s hip-hop artist) will get involved, given some financial incentive, much faster than they would for a worthy cause.
Thank goodness, for artists like Harlem’s Immortal Technique, Lupe Fiasco, Raheem DaVaugh, Jasir X, and other independent artists who have actively, financially, and musically contributed to the movement, and continue to carry the torch.
By Ernesto Johnson, find out more at www.nessdigi.podomatic.com.