February 23, 2006 @ 4:04 pm

The Zulu Nation Demands Hip Hop Take Responsibility

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That's what Public Enemy front man Chuck D said at an emergency meeting held yesterday, Feb. 22, at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. The Supreme World Council of the Universal Zulu Nation, which was established by Afrika Bambaataa, considered by many to be the founding father of hip hop, called the meeting to address the need for the reinstatement of balance, respect and love in hip hop music.

“How can you say you love hip-hop without learning the voices, the sentiment, the soul, the legacy, the responsibility?” asked Chuck D.

While the evening began with angry accusations of brainwashing by media, more specifically New York radio superpowers Hot 97 and Power 105.1, it was messages of change and constructive solutions that resonated with the culturally and religiously diverse crowd that overflowed into the hallways.

left “If you’re playing 50 Cent we want to hear Common Sense; if you play Missy Elliott we want to hear Sonic Force; if you play Sean Paul we want to hear Bob Marley,” said Bambaataa, referring to the recycled playlists on radio and television.

“This is not a building full of bitter people, bitter old recording artists who are mad that their records aren’t getting played on the radio any more,” said Chuck D. “This is a town meeting for the survival of people.”

“Hip hop is caught up in a time where one’s worth and status are contingent upon money rather than a genuine love for the music,” he said. Both he and Bambaataa went on to say that the degradation of women and the ubiquitous use of the N-word are not what the originators of hip-hop had in mind when envisioning what the culture would become.

“This is not the hip-hop Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and all the pioneers started way back,” said Bambaataa.

Rapper turned activist, Chuck D, pointed out that the presidents of both MTV and BET are black women, an irony considering that black women are the subjects of unapologetically misogynist portrayals in an overwhelming number of rap songs and accompanying videos.

Rounding out the evening was perhaps the most important call to action. Building on the theme that bringing about a balance between the responsible music of the Talib Kwelis and Mos Defs, and the shallowness of the s and Ying Yang Twins, will allow for hip hop to give other options to those who look up to it for guidance.

“That’s all you hear… is a mixture of a thug life and children,” said Chuck D. “How you going to make a club song and your marketing campaign is aimed at a 14 year-old? Why? A 14 year-old can’t get into the God d*mn club, and not only is it a club, it’s a strip club. So what the hell does an 11 year-old who rushes home from school to turn on the radio or television know about strip clubs, anyway?” he continued.

And, in true Chuck D fashion, his most powerful statement was a self-reflective one. “I have been blessed to go all over the world because of this music, to feed my family because of this music, I have an obligation and a responsibility to take what this music has given to me, and take whatever I have gained and learned from the brotherhood and the sisterhood of this music, and spread it.”

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Article tags: Afrika BambaataaZulu NationChuck D 

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