Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Knocked Unconscious in the Wreck Age

Bertrand Russell stated that “People would rather die than think, and often do”. It really scares me how prevalent this statement is in our present day. For example, yesterday I was checking my email on Yahoo where I read a headline about two ushers being shot at a Kanye West concert. I have read previous articles to the same effect around shows by the rapper 50 Cent. I grew up at a time when Heavy Metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were slapped with the labels of being "Satanic" and accused of inciting teenagers to commit suicide, but it was all pretty harmless in reality (most of the fears were hyperbolized to a frothing fever, but unfounded) compared to what you see coming from the Hip Hop world today.
Rap music in its roots was basically the punk rock rebellion of African Americans who were understandably tired of living like second class citizens and the racism that still permeates in many societies including both Canada and the U.S. In my opinion, what individuals like Chuck-D (who I had the privileged to interview way back in my college radio days) and his group Public Enemy created was both an articulate and intelligent commentary on the problems and issues plaguing Blacks in the U.S., fused with the music and rhythms of their culture. I have since heard Chuck-D do some of his spoken word performances and respect his intellect and praise his commentary, feeling it is a message that really needs to get out.So now we have celebrities like 50 Cent, Jay-Z, DMX, etc. Some are ex-cons and proud of it, rapping about their "experience" which does have some validity, just as one's re-counting of anything. The problem is the message and the subsequent glorification of this lifestyle, coupled with incredibly degrading portrayals of women. In regards to the latter, some will argue that the portrayal of women may appear degrading but is actually, in some convoluted way, empowering. I just don't get that.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of ignorance being depicted by Black hip hop artists are all the gold and diamond rings, chains and teeth. These are guys supposedly speaking out against black repression and Mama Africa, yet they are sporting the gems and minerals that were the basis of that oppression! Can you say “De Beers” anyone? The gangsta stylin’ and guns – can you say children soldiers in Sierra Leone?! Yet the establishment holds these guys up as being “real” and being the voice of Western Blacks. If I were a black person I would be livid that this is being held high as the banner of my culture. Rap isn’t the only facet of popular culture these days supporting Russell’s statement. The fact that we have allowed our media outlets to become cheerleaders and champions of specific causes (and you can throw hip hop into this equation) as opposed to objective reporters of “fact”, has bred xenophobia and lead to misguided support of things like the invasion of Iraq. In Western democracies, people moan about the government they have democratically elected not holding up campaign promises- even though the government is our employee, it always seems to be the other way around! But so many people “don’t like politics”. Need I diverge into issues of environmentalism here? This is quickly devolving into the Wreck Age as our unconscious civilization blunders forward in fear, unwilling to think in spite of its self.


  • At 5:36 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    I'm listening to "Th!nk" by Michael Legault right now (Why there aren't very many critical thinkers anymore). The WreckAge in which we live is just in the marketing. Whatever makes money will be in charge as long as we can charge. The blind faith in economics as God has given us a world where the people who don't grow up living the 'pursuit of purchased happiness' lifestyle are left out, whether they choose to live that way through simplicity and frugality, or whether they are forced to live without purchased happiness through racism, urbanism, or plain old poverty. Rappers seem to be a classic example of what happens when someone grows up without the things of comfort, then is overcome with the trappings of fortune, less the education for it or pragmatism to balance the cashflow. A rap star who doesn't dress the part wouldn't be a rap star for long. Maybe they need a focus group to set up a 'non'profit foundation (The African Heritage Foundation) to collect even more money to fight the oppression caused by their lifestyles. But why do think or do great things when you can get rich instead?

  • At 6:10 p.m. , Blogger Tatiana said...

    dude, i just turn my back on that stuff. and by "stuff" i mean popular rap acts, and horse shit like soulplane. and pimp juice. it helps to keep my blood-pressure from going up. But then again, ignoring a tumor only lets it get bigger.

  • At 8:06 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    A jackass with a dollar is still a jackass with a million dollars. Rap had good intentions but has been bastardized like everything else. Although I think Kanye can be a bit of an idiot he does talk about the culture of Rap and what gets played on the radio in "Jesus Walks." These so called artists are an insult to black culture and to the silenced voices that came before them. I was watching a documentary on slavery in America and the civil rights movement. I thought to myself blacks finally have a voice and this is the crap some of them choose to spout.

  • At 9:56 a.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    The problem isn't just jackasses with a few million dollars - the issues are: (A) making gangbanging as culturally acceptable as poodle skirts were in the 1950's [which was also very bad!] and (B) a total debasing of Black Culture.

    In regards to the culture, just look around you at the videao games, the weapons offenses amongst youth and the music pumping in our prisons. On that side of it, every race under the sun is perpetuating the image and sound while the Arts communities "validate it" by saying "that's so real" and "it's their voice coming from their experience/reality". Ultimately, this seems to be the new definition of "Black Culture". We know that this is crap (if you have a working brain and any knowledge of the world which the status quo do NOT). Inbred white supremacist hillbillies in the backwaters of Georgia and Kentucky might be speaking about their "reality" too, but I'm sure as hell not going to validate it let alone become a flagship for caucaision folks. People can see what idots the hillbillies are, so why can't they see that of the rappers of which we speak (and before I paint it all with the same brush, there is some good, intelligent hip hop out there, but they seem relegated to the University Radio stations).

    This all leads into my second point - what would great men like Martin Luther King Jr. think if he had lived to see what is presented to the masses in the name of Black rights and freedoms?

    I guess my point is simply this: if I were black, I'd be pretty angry about how my people were being portrayed and want to do something about it. When you look at the richness of Black culture - contributions to music including the founding of both Jazz and the Blues, literature, sports and social/political movements - I'd be proud and want to share that with the world.

  • At 1:37 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Just got the new National Geographic. Read the story about the DNA trail.
    We are all black in origin, and the Africans who are still in Africa are more human than any of us. We are just a bland offshoot which filled up the world with junk.
    So, yes, I'm angry that my true species has turned into prison fodder and HipHopocrites while the 'intellectuals' let them do this to us all.


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