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In this hour of the program we'll be talking with someone who is quite well-known as a commentator on hip hop music and culture. His name is Bill Cari Kitt Juana. He's authored a book entitled The Hip-Hop Generation Young Blacks and the crisis in African-American culture. He is former executive editor of The Source that's a magazine of hip hop music culture and politics. His writings have appeared in the source and lot of other places including Village Voice The Progressive. He has authored a column on Hip-Hop and youth culture for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and has lectured on hip hop a lot of places around the country including Harvard and Columbia and Vassar and University of Rochester He's a consultant on hip hop for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. He's also the author of a forthcoming book titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. And he's here visiting in Champaign-Urbana his visit sponsored by the African-American studies and research program. He's going to be giving a talk. This afternoon talking about the significance of the legacy of Malcolm X for the hip hop generation. That's at 1:00 12:00 chemistry annex on South Mathews in
Urbana and I'm assuming that it's open to anybody who is interested in stopping by. You want to hear what he has to say. That would be great of course here on the program questions comments are welcome. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Thanks very much for being here. It's good to be here. Just to start sort of with the basic idea it starts out about talking about the hip hop generation. It's a term that that you came up with or it's Or somebody came up with as a way of describing a certain segment of American youth that maybe there wasn't good. Good term for and you know we like to have these kind of convenient labels that we can we can put on things. Right. So here you're essentially what what you what this is is a term that tries to describe young people young African-American people primarily but not just who came along after the civil rights are right. Well the term had been floating around for some time. When I was an editor at The Source we incorporated into the style.
To refer to young African-Americans. And when I wrote the book The Hip-Hop Generation they had been a study that was done by an organization called motivational educational entertainment based out of Philadelphia and they had done a study about 10 years ago with the title The Hip-Hop Generation and it reaching the hip hop generation I think it was called but in terms of the book I wanted to write a book about young African-Americans born after the Civil Rights Movement. And you know what do we call that. So as I look back at you know the World War 2 generation and the baby boom generation and just kind of looking for those major social indicators for the for this younger generation. One of the major defining. Variables has been have. But I think you're also make the argument that just as as the title of this other book suggests that interest in hip hop music and culture goes beyond just every
young African American right ball it's popular with a lot of young people and I'm not even necessarily young ones although maybe maybe more young ones. So it starts to be it starts to become something a little bit bigger than that. Right. Well I think that with with the book the hip hop generation I wanted to write a book about young African-Americans going after the civil rights movement in terms of young people being drawn to hip hop. Most certainly we're talking about people that are not just African-American. And so with the new book while White Kids Love Hip Hop I'm trying to kind of venture out into some of the other territory I think that most certainly when you talk about hip hop people use the expression the hip hop nation or the hip hop community to describe you know the general hip hop listeners regardless of age class race whatever I think that when we're talking about a hip hop voting block most certainly we're talking about you know young people some as young as 18. And some into their
40s who identify with hip hop on some level those people who make him an AM go 1.7 times platinum in a week. That's we're talking about a hip hop voting block. And so you start to see how the conversation gets a little bit more broad. Well that also gets us from music to politics because that's also something that I know you're interested in and you have written a lot about the fact that here you talk about people who are who are interested in hip hop and go identify with that that we're talking about a significant number of people that if you and then you would have to say as you've said a lot of other people have said if it's possible to mobilize that group if it's possible to get them politically active to vote but not just to vote to be active in other sorts of ways you know that you're talking about a signal the potential of a sudden significant movement and you've made this argument that particularly for African-American kids who have come along after the civil rights movement here there is something that it might actually be possible to mobilize around that would be as significant maybe more significant than the Civil Rights Movement I probably a lot of friends a lot of people of your
parents age and older would probably not be real happy to hear something like that well I mean I think that there is people that don't understand hip hop. Beyond it as a music for Nama not as a pop music phenomenon I would balk at the idea of a comparison to the civil rights movement. Some people would say you talk of my apples and oranges in terms of hip hop music more the Musical Arts Movement in terms of the civil rights movement you're talking about a political and a social movement. But I think that what we're talking about those of us who are engaged in the hip hop arts cultural movement as well as the emerging hip hop political movement we're talking about a generation of young people who have grown up on hip hop who have seen hip hop as a cultural phenomenon at a grassroots local level have a tremendous impact on young people. And if you are trying to reach young people today whether you're an educator where the you are in the
church or whether you're in politics those of us who grow have grown up on hip hop understand that hip hop is that is that a tool to do that and that there has been a cultural movement created by hip hop at a local level. That is the infrastructure that is the infrastructure that's critical to this emerging political movement the good eggs analogy would be well historically has been the black church. An African-American community most certainly in and in the context of the civil rights movement the black church was the infrastructure for the civil rights movement. Well the local hip hop community the collective of graffiti artists and break dancers spoken word poets local party promoters spoken MCs and mixtape deejays that collective of individuals is the infrastructure created by the cultural movement of hip hop that young hip hop activists are
tapping into to move a political agenda. And we saw a lot of this most recently with the election of 2004 at a national level. But this has been going on at a local level for at least a decade. Yeah. Well they're each such as I mean that I want to ask about and because I know that the people involved in hip hop community have been interested in trying to organize politically and then also get people who are interested in hip hop music and culture to organize and there was in fact there was a hip hop convention. That took place. Blast. The year I was in this joining. Now it is in June 2004 and then I read some stories about that and and there were people predicting I think maybe you and other people were predicting that here there was a you could actually talk about a kind of a voting bloc about voting bloc that was there was a possibility of mobilizing this voting bloc and at least if not mobilizing
them for a particular candidate getting them to vote right. Do you feel that now in the election of 2004 that the that the hip hop community had a noticeable a a recognizable kind of impact. Absolutely I mean I think you know one of the problems that we're struggling against is for the vast majority still of Americans there are not issues on the nation's agenda that people are excited about. That they feel I'm going to change their lives in a substantive manner. Once that election is over. So I think that's a part of the problem with dealing with this last election we saw we had the biggest turnout since 1968 in this country across all age groups people X more excited about what was going to happen in politics in this country for the first time and in a long time. So in terms of a hip hop voting block I was one of the founders of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention and we believe that
young people if the issues are discussed and packaged in a way that appeal to them would be more interested in electoral politics but I think that the court a part of the equation is the what politicians are talking about are the issues that matter to us as a generation have to be on the agenda. I don't it is a matter of politicizing young people. I think that young people already politicize by public policy of the 80s and 90s. So as a matter of putting issues on the national agenda that matters young people so a part of what we saw happen was that didn't happen. So the fact that young people didn't turn out in very young people turned out in record numbers but they did not maybe did not have an effect that people wanted to have import because you still have a large contingency of young people just as you do Americans across all age groups who are checking out of the who are just checking out of the process because they feel that the issues are on the agenda that matters to them and they're going to bring about change and live in a good example I mean I think
that the Democratic Party still is not doing a good job of reaching young people or even their lives. They're their progressive base. And so I think that what you saw was a lot of young people who let's say for example around the question of a living wage the Democratic Party offered $7 an hour. Most people know that's $7 an hour is not going to lift you out of poverty. And so I think that we have a situation where we have a democratic and a Republican Party that are both. Further right then the masses of American people and I think that's a part of the problem so I think in terms of a hip hop voting block the difficulty remains we've got to get candidates that are speaking the issues and parties that are aligned with where young people are in what matters to them in their day to day lives. Let me introduce again just for anybody who might have tuned in here I guess Curry could want to he's written a
lot spoken a lot about hip hop music and culture probably one of the country's best known commentators on the subject. He's the author of the book The Hip-Hop Generation Young Blacks and the crisis in African-American culture that's basic books and the book is still in print so if you want to go out and read the book also has one coming out soon to be titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop and has contributed for a lot of different publications. The source. Which she was of which he was executive editor at one point that's a magazine of hip hop music culture and politics. His writings also appeared in The Village Voice and in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and he's talked about the subject quite a lot on university campuses and on radio and television. He's a consultant on hip hop for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame he was here visiting the campus will be giving a talk this afternoon and the questions here on the program are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5 you know when the book When Why White Kids Love Hip Hop's coming out May 1st and first OK. Very good. We have caller to talk with here on our line
one. Let's do that in Champaign. Well good morning. Yes there's a few things I want to get that care to address. One is that there's a relationship between of outsiders I mean cool since the 60s myself but more hip but there's a relationship between this music unlike the present situation which is a good political point I think as we incarcerate in this country more people than any other industrialized country in the world I guess percentage wise. And ultimately I guess a big percentage of black. But the other point. Well I mean look I got a long time ago that was talked about term as question. These are the kind of Intellisense Monologues I guess and I call them and I know if you do guest dozens or you talk about the relationship of them to the music and I just have a listen thanks a lot. OK OK. We get into the hip hop afficionado arena. Tell us is a form of of rapping. Some say come out of the Caribbean. I talk about this song
in my first book The rap on gangsta rap. But in terms of there's a book called Yes yes yall written by Charlie Herron that gets into this in some more detail there's another new book out right now by Jeff Chang The book is called Can't stop won't stop a history of the Hip-Hop Generation also gets into some of this detail that you're talking about connecting this history of rap into a pre African-American context. There's a young rapper out of Oakland. His name is Boots Riley. The rap group is called the coup. And he talks about this in some detail you know as he lectures around the country what you talk about in terms of hip hop in a prison situation I think this is a big issue because I think. For young people our society has changed dramatically in 1970 there around 200000 people total totally
incarcerated in this country by the year 2000 you have over two million people incarcerated nearly one million home African-American. This is one of the major impacts on us as a generation in terms this incarceration thing I think that globalization plays a big role in that and I'm going to talk about that some TONIGHT this afternoon. But I also think for young people in addition to incarceration one of the biggest responses that society has had for us has been medication. And I get into this in the new book Why White Kids Love Hip Hop that as a society. When young people have been seen whenever something has been deemed a huge problem as a society and as a government our responses have been limited to either incarceration or medication with this generation and so we see young people finding refuge in taking refuge in hip hop. You talk a little bit earlier about the fact that you felt that people of of this generation the group of people that were talking about their
certain kind of issues that they were really concerned with and that they were that they were hoping they could hear politicians talk about I mean that would be one way of engaging them in a political process and if they don't feel engaged it may well be because politicians are not talking about those issues now. We just touched on one of them right. And there are some others who are there are some really basic basic things that you would say like these are are basic issues that people who are who are part of this this generation or this bloc right would say OK these these are important these are the things we want to hear to talk about. Absolutely. One of the things that we did with the National Hip-Hop Political Convention we went around the country and we set up local organizing committees that were based that were comprised of. Graffiti art collectives breakdancing collectives spoken word deejays etc.. Rap artists mixtape deejays hip hop activists in these local communities and we said You all should select delegates and send them to this National
Convention. And so that's what we did. And every delegate was required to register 50 voters. And so we came to this convention in Newark in June and we Const. We could we drafted a National Hip-Hop political agenda which was based on five. It was a five point agenda. It was education living wage incarceration health care. And one of the issues was also an end to recruiting young people for the military in public spaces. So I think that the issues are very well defined. The issues that are devastating on young people in terms of education. We're definitely being devastated by the fact that we have an educational system. The public school at the high school public school level that once worked because you had a manufacturing industry that was based here. So when you graduated from high school you could move into a job that paid you a living wage you could buy a home you
could take your family on vacation. You could have health care benefits. But with our generation this generation born after the civil rights movement the jobs that exist that are working class jobs do not provide that many young people are still living in their parents homes. The best job option for many young people graduating out of high school today is to go into the military and end up you know fighting in Iraq. Many young people don't want to be there. They're there because it was an economic option and they're loyal American citizens they know what they signed up for. So they carrying out their duty. I was interviewed in The New York Times article ran yesterday in Sunday's the arts page talking about young people who are in the military who are rapping to articulate their frustration in the book the hip hop generation. I have a chapter where I talk about these job options facing young people and I talk to soldiers and many of them talked about. The fact that they didn't want to fight in these wars but that the military was the best job option that they
had some of them was supplementing their income with things like food stamps. Some of them would supplement their income by selling drugs. And I think that as a society and as a government we owe more to our young people as a job option then going into the military. Let's talk with somebody else who will know the color line one. Also champagne. Hello I'm wondering about the relationship between hip hop and the importance of Islam among young African-American people and whether there's a subgroup of hip hop that is very impressed by Islam or the whole of it or part of it or whatever. And I'm wondering about its relationship to incarceration and conversion to Islam in prison and then also maybe its relationship to politics and and these other issues that you're talking about. You know I think you missed the five issues or something. Could you talk about that in any way. Yeah this is good stuff. OK. OK.
There's a lot in terms of a connection between hip hop and Islam I think that there are these ideas floating around that is a negative thing. There's a history of young people most certainly the five percent nation influence within hip hop which is really strong and Islam really strong in hip hop going back into the 80s. But I think more recently you have so many young people in and out of the prison system and within that system young people joining associations for a variety of reasons. And I talk about this in the hip hop generation that many times these prison conversions are just that prison conversions and then when young people are then out of prison then whatever that group that they were in with in prison you know they kind of kind of fall out of. So I mean I think that there is a relationship. I don't
the relation is as strong as it's been played up in the media. I'm going to talk some this afternoon. About the influence of the 5 percent nation on either the 5 percent or the 5 percent nation is a organization that came a philosophical school of thought that came out of the Nation of Islam in the 60s and 70s. You had a a a big influence of these people on the streets in New York in the early 80s having a big influence on young people who are also on the streets who many were younger people at the time when if you were a young person and you were involved or caught committing crimes such as running drugs for drug dealers This is the pre super predator era. Those people were not sent to prison. And so you had many of these people on the street at the same time as a five percent nation is on the street
and incorporating a lot of the language of the 5 percent nation into hip hop. And so that is a real phenomenon I think that we see in terms of an Islamic influence within hip hop. Right but there are just so many branches of Islam whether its a more orthodox Middle Eastern or is a nation of Islam or right on American kind of. Civil rights conglomeration. I think you get a lot of different Islamic influences within hip hop. More so in the 80s then now some of this is documented in magazines like the source and in Vibe where they've done detail stories you know talking about the EMP the influence of of Islam within hip hop. But I think in terms of the prison context you talk about something a little bit different. Right. Well it seems that Islam can be very influential in social movements
and and I guess as a counter movement maybe to something that is so dominant. But as you said sometimes this can be taken very negatively. And I'm just wondering. Whether the political organization that is you know associated with have topped this is seen as some kind of threat and then associated with Islam etc. etc.. You know I think you get my drift. I think you get some fanatical mainstream commentators on the right right who make these wild associations with hip hop. There was a I mentioned the rap artist boot Riley of the coup in 2001 they had an album come out where on the cover was a bombing of the World Trade Center which was before this cover was done before the World Trade Center bombing and there was a newspaper I believe was a newspaper in London I can't recall the name who made a connection between Boots Riley and some
Islamic radicals and Boots Riley is not Muslim. And so I mean I think you see kind of where this stuff all kind of starts to go. Right right right. OK well. Thank you very much. OK thank you know we're about the midpoint here. The questions comments are certainly welcome again let me introduce our guest book argued Juana. He's the author of several books including The rap on gangsta rap that was his first. The Hip Hop Generation Young Blacks and the crisis in African-American culture and one that will be coming out soon titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop He's written a lot about hip hop music and culture for a variety publications he was a former executive editor of The Source magazine of hip hop music culture and politics. He has been a commentator has been widely interviewed on television and radio. His writings have appeared in a number of places. The source Village Voice the progressive he's lectured college campuses around the country he's here to talk about the significance of Malcolm X and his legacy for the Hip-Hop Generation. And that will be today at 4 o'clock this afternoon at 1:00 12:00 chemistry annex at 5 0
5 south Mathews on the U of I campus is visit here sponsored by the African-American studies and research program. Questions to again here on the program are welcome three three three. 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Talk a bit earlier about what you know the things that you have written other people have written about the possibility that you have here organized around hip hop a significant potential of significant kind of political block at least here it's a kind of a force of people that you could mobilize and that the central sort of thing that they identify with and pulls them together is hip hop music and culture. Right now the thing is though that a lot of there are a lot of folks within the African-American community and elsewhere people who are a little bit older like over 50 and who maybe are concerned about that and these kinds of comparisons between civil rights movement and the hip hop movement. Right. And would point to hip hop and say you know we've got a
problem with some of the values right that this music portrays and advances. And actually I know that you've said the same thing yeah you know me you know it is we do need to talk about that it's not necessarily you know you or you are not necessarily going to doors a lot of the values of the music but I mean I guess I wonder how it is you. Think about that and how you talk about that with with people who make that criticism you know particularly those people who would have lived through the civil rights movement and knew what it was like before and knew what it was like. After all who who would then you know could be the parents and maybe even the grandparents of this generation that we're talking about. It's a hard thing. You know I think that one of the issues is this. One of the guy doing the hip hop generation is I look at differences between the civil rights generation of African-Americans and the hip hop generation and some of those things that make us different.
I talk about this globalization of the economy is out outgrowths as a part of what makes us so different. You know this rise of incarceration this blending of the prison culture and street culture with black youth culture so that the lines are blurred between where one ends and the other begins. I think a lot of this stuff is hard for the older generation to process because they haven't lived through in the same way so they say well you guys are complaining about education you complain about jobs. You know this is same thing. You know we dealt with these issues. So why are you complaining about it and why do you get to be so vulgar and. Why do you have to use the N word so much. I think that the response I did a panel discussion there was a general. It was a it was a conversation between a civil rights generation and the hip hop generation that took place in New York a few weeks ago is actually going to is a BT documentary that's going to run on the twenty eighth of February including Cornel West
and Michael Eric Dyson and some of the older folk older than them long time end of lazy advocates. And you know somebody has issues you know came up and I think one of the things that came out of the conversation was that for the younger generation there's a lot more comfort. And presenting the contradictions and accepting these contradictions of the part of a life whereas for the older generation this seems to be more of a tendency to just put the best foot forward now that these contradictions didn't exist but that they were more interested in putting the best foot forward I think that's one of those shifts that has taken place in African-American community and I also do you know concede I think that there is and I'm going to talk about this some today in his Malcolm X discussion there is a spiritual dearth among this younger generation where spirituality has
taken a back seat and I think that this is a national phenomenon not just an African-American one. Well let's talk with some more folks we have someone here on a calling on cell phone so we'll get them on our line for Hello. Oh yeah well you are good. You just touched on a little bit of quiet because I grew up on hip hop and you know I was used to the to the conscious rap with you know the KRS one's beer rocky and Public Enemy. And it seems like now that the conscious rap has been put on the back bar and it's more of a materialistic type thing that's being worked. All five now and I just wanted to know if you saw the same thing that I'm saying. I think in some cases I think there's a strong Hardman to be made what you're saying I think a lot of times we have to situate that discussion into how the music industry has changed and how the hip hop industry has changed. And I think if you give the people the time period that you're talking about a lot of that music was being published by
independent record labels. I think now we've gone through the mid 80s in the late 80s with the consolidation of the music industry. And in that process and many of these independent labels were bought out or driven out of business. And so you have a formula that has been established within the industry really extend it back to I'd say 88 89 where the formula was kind of established with the success of rock groups like NWA. And if you look at NWA you look at the game and you look at 50 Cent and you're talking about a span of about 15 years. Sixteen years is not a radical difference. And what those artists are saying. So I think that there is a decline. In the consciousness in terms of the dominant hip hop message. But I think that the conscious message is still out there which is hearing more of of the formula is being heard and is seen from
many artists who are coming out of poor backgrounds who are getting into the rap game and seeing it as their one opportunity to make money in America. And you know many of them aren't willing to take a chance to do something that goes against the grain I think you have. You have examples where people have gone against the grain the Fuji's Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Kanye West. And I think that those examples were people who took a chance of going is the gets a grant have been successful no other than you to want to as it is negative mess isn't all it is non-conscious message I mean some people would put Jay-Z in that context. I see a transition taking place. Jay-Z did a collaboration with Dead Prez on their last album which kind of goes against the grain. People would say Jay-Z kind of falls into the bling bling material celebration arena rap artists. But you see there are these easily these easy ways of packaging the
music and describing the music don't always hold true 100 percent of the time. OK thank you very much I appreciate your time. Thank you for the call. This I think this gets sad. This is the argument probably it's been going on about this music for a long time is that does this music have anything positive to say. Well and I think that for a long time going back to the beginning a lot of people have said well yeah that we are talking about some artist at least doing doing social commentary doing political commentary actually using this as a way of saying something and then you know maybe some artists that don't and maybe that's sort of always been the case but then if but that if you were looking for artists who are really I mean you might not like what they have to say you might not agree with it with what they have to say but that they are actually are trying to say something right. Those there are still people who are doing that. It may even be a minority of rap artists but that's that still there. Yeah I think it's I think it's 0 0 much more than people realize. I think a part
of what we have to understand. Is that hip hop has been a way for this generation of young people to survive this globalization era. And so I think the music is speaking to that in a wide variety of ways I mean even in artists that would be considered not to be conscious say 50 Cent the music and what he's saying is still addressing this music as a response to globalization. His album titled Get Rich or Die Trying. That is her response to where we are as as a society. I also think that the music has to be sing in a global context and the ways that young people are using hip hop internationally is very important for many of them as a response to globalization in Indonesia in the Ukraine. And parts of Japan where young people have appropriated hip hop in
Palestine and used it in very powerful ways to critique the society to critique how globalization has negatively impacted them and how they're surviving it which is the same thing that African-Americans have done here. And in my new book while White Kids Love Hip Hop I argue that is what many young white Americans are doing and to see this in the music. A lot of times we have to turn off Viacom and turn off Clear Channel and start to look at what's happening with this music in the in their local community settings. So I would say go to the spoken word venue's go hear a local hip hop artist if you want to see what's really going on what the real message is on the real diversity of the message. And you can find this in any local community because this is the cultural movement of hip hop around the country. You can find young people who are celebrating their own local artists who are making music at a local level who are engaging hip hop in some form.
Even this even if it's in a spoken word setting and you can hear a more diversified message of what hip hop is always keep in mind that what we see courtesy of Clear Channel and Viacom and Radio 1 is a packaged version of hip hop culture and hip hop culture itself. Let's talk with somebody you know over by Danville Belgium nearby community lie number one. Hello good morning. And your last little couple of questions and comments you somewhat touched on that on the topic that like the suggestion and that is. And in the punk rock arena if I would you know this quite correctly there's an independent record label by the name a fat record located in San Francisco who seems to have taken a very strong stance in the most recent election against the parties who are involved and now is there anybody like that in the Hip-Hop Seana label that will stand up and say you do not like things the way they are and and put money and
effort behind it. That's a good question. I mean I think there are there are many examples of that. The one that immediately comes to mind first I'd say that much of the most important musical movements ever come out of independent context and then the record industry just kind of latches on to that one example that I can think of is M.P. who started his label independently did very well and then the major labels latched on to him. He financially supported a a movement that was called the Million Youth March that took place in Harlem. This had been maybe three or four years ago at the 12th hour when they were about to have to cancel the event because of funding. M.P. funded the event. So that's one example I'm sure I think about going up I could go with some others. It's very much thinks now it's also we talked a bit earlier about the first hip hop
convention and last June that you were involved in a lot of other people involved in this also involved some people who actually were on sort of on the other end people who were very big names people who have made a lot of money right. And and they say this is the least of some of those kind of people they're also throwing their hands and putting some money behind the idea of you know organizing politically. Yeah I mean I think it's important because you know some people would say that that is somehow watering down the local political movement but I think that that commercial level of involvement is important for a lot of reasons one I think that one you know what you find a hip hop is the extent to which something is perceived as being a part of hip hop. You get much more of a push behind it. For example past the cover RCA has this song that Busta Rhymes did at a time when covered RCA
sales in this country in North America were solo they were about to pull out of the country sales are now 70 percent in African-American community. So to the extent that something is seen as a part of hip hop like you know the old throwback jerseys or the wearing a white T-shirt or temple lands when Temple lands first. Yet when people within hip hop started wearing timberlands in the beginning temple the CEO of Temple and issued a statement saying that they didn't make their product for the urban community. So but still young people had latched on to it anyway so to the extent that something is seen as a part of hip hop we find young people get with it. So I think that someone like Russell Simmons and someone like P. Diddy or attaching the OR and so did Jay and Queen the TV stars have a snowball effect such that young people start to see a connection and transit connection between hip hop and politics and I think that is a good
thing. When you make those type of relationships the other thing that I think that we're starting to see more of in. And we saw this in terms of Hollywood going back into the 50s and even into the present where you have these wealthy individuals who've made all this money. As American royalty and American celebrity and they're able to finance these campaigns with you know contributing to political action committees etc. and I'd like to see that and I see that becoming more a part of this hip hop political movement as well. Well coming into bought our last 10 minutes or so and the for anybody who has just tuned in I do want to again introduce our guest. One is journalist well known as commentator on hip hop music and culture author of the book The Hip-Hop Generation also one coming out in May. Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. He's written for a lot of magazines has been widely interviewed on the subject. He served as an Ingin will give a talk later on the Obama campus
afternoon for a one time before we end all give you the information on that again questions comments are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Up next caller in Urbana line number 1. Good morning. Yeah. I wanted to touch on the last part of your comment there about the money being may be economics behind hip hop and if you feel comfortable with maybe the reinvestment is there reinvestment back in the black community. You know purchase. Hospitals create a professional the reemergence of the black professional class and things like that. Can you talk a little bit about that money being made. That's a good one. Well let's see. Another thing that I'm thinking of immediately comes to mind I think in terms of I mean you do see a number of artists that are expanding beyond the
hip hop context into other arenas with their money in terms of real estate and other things of that nature. Other ventures like the whole hip hop fashion industry. But in terms of a reinvestment in the community itself I think a lot of that is still not at a level. I mean hip hop itself I think is a reinvestment in the community because. Within the industry most certainly you have a lot of young people able to get jobs in the hip hop industry that didn't exist. Most certainly when I was you know graduated from high school 20 years ago. So I mean I think that that is something that hip hop artists are responsible for the creation of jobs in a hip hop fashion industry. You know it's cetera. The creation of jobs in terms of public relations and stylists and various people producers such as Kanye West who started out producing before he became a rapper himself. So I mean I think that that's an economic impact. I think hip hop is driving
young people to make their own music independently and to be you know more entrepreneurial in their approach rather than waiting to get signed off on a record label so I see an entrepreneurial thrust and that regard but not at the level that you're describing. OK. Well again other questions welcome we have time for one or 2 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5. I'd like to talk more about white Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. I think it's something we certainly know is that for a long time in America white Americans have been drawn to black popular culture. Right that's that's not new right. And it isn't and it even goes in and goes back to the 60s but if it goes back further right in America so. So that's not exactly new. But I wonder and I'm interested because you talked a bit earlier that you thought maybe four or four white kids but for also for people other places around the world are drawn to rap as an
avenue for making commentary. Is it do you think that a lot of white kids are identifying with the political messages in hip hop or do they you know is it just that they they like it it's cool they can you know it's it's fun or they like it because their parents don't like it. I think all of those things simultaneously are true. I think you have to look at it in terms of age groups because I think a lot of white kids who got into hip hop say in the 80s or in the 90s most certainly at a time when hip hop wasn't mainstream pop culture it was different. I think now when you're dealing with kids say who are at the elementary and high school level who are observing hip hop. They're not making in some cases a stink in between Nelly or Jay-Z and Britney Spears. So this is just the pop culture of our time. What I try to do in the book the A-Y White Kids Love Hip Hop is
to look at how this younger generation of Americans are processing race in a different way and to suggest that there is an old racial politics that governs the way we do business around race in America and in the world. And that this younger generation who's grown up living their entire lives in a post segregation America are processing race radically different for a variety of reasons that extend back into the civil rights movement and the impact of people like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. And I think that. If we start to delve into that space we can unlock some real real answers and solutions about where we need to go as a country. I think that we haven't dealt with the issue of race. I think that as a country we continue to rehash the old racial politics when every racial issue comes up. And I find it bizarre that as a country we aren't engaging young people in a in the conversation about race young people who've lived their entire
lives and oppose segregation in America you would think that as a country we would want to have them weighing in on any way that we're talking about race. But yet when we talk about things like a front of action etc. we rehash the same old racial politics. So this is what the book Why White Kids Love Hip hop is about how a new generation of young people are processing raised differently. How hip hop is increasingly a refuge for young people. Who have grown up in America with this change in economy where the American Dream the idea of what the American dream is for this younger generation is radically different than what it was for our parents generation. In the distance between our ability to achieve it and and what the dream is and the tools at our disposal to achieve it is so great that young people are feeling a great deal of anxiety and alienation from mainstream America across the board whether they're black or whether they're white for black kids this says alienation from the mainstream. Hip
hop was created to fill that void. I think for white kids in some cases as they start to process and deal with these issues most certainly are just on the graduate from high school and to go out into the world and look at what their options are. Hip hop becomes a refuge and the political underlying message within hip hop then becomes very important. Do you what do you think that young people today that they're they're finding. More in common with one another then perhaps their but their parents do or or would have then that's not to say that their race doesn't sell divide us because it does but that at least among younger people it's it's not as divisive an issue that is they would say we actually have a lot more in common than divide us. I think that we are forced by nature of the economics that we live with to. See the things we have in common more. I
think we've always had these things in common. Even going back into the 50s that glory day that Newt Gingrich wants to take us back to. But I think that because of the impact of globalization the commonalities are more clear with things like outsourcing with things like young people graduate from high school feeling like the military is one of the best options that they have black or white for a job that pays them a living wage with benefits. And that remains questionable as I talked about earlier so I mean I think that young people are seeing more and they have more in common and are forced by nature of this aside that we live in. To engage race I think that pop culture and the way that pop culture has been packaged in the 70s in the 80s in the 90s provides young white kids with access to African-American culture and the conversations that go on between African-Americans. This just this access that is
just unprecedented. And so I think that's a part of it. I think that the institutionalization of civil rights culture such that the civil rights message has become a part of the American story. And so we go back to the Thomas Jefferson ideal of what it means to be American and all men being created equal. And then we incorporate the Martin Luther King vision the dream of judging people by the content of the character has become woven into the national story of what it means to be an American from the King. The passage of the King holiday under President Reagan. To the institutionalization of things like Kwanzaa the celebration of Afro centricity and Afro centric academic theories at the college level etc.. So I think all of these things combine along with hip hop to create a different space where young people are able to process and engage
race. That makes it a radically different time. Well unfortunately come down the point here we just have a couple minutes left. I'm kind of interested in having you talk about where you think the music is going to just because you know within popular music certain kinds of music they have their moments right and they peak. Now that doesn't mean that people stop listening to them. And artists who come after go back and they refer to them they write take things from them. So in a sense they never really really die but they do have their moments. What do you see as happening with hip hop and is is that going to continue is it going to change. Maybe change in ways you know we just don't know what the what what the next thing is going to be. I think that what I see happening. Hip hop has has demonstrated an uncanny ability to continue to reinvent itself. And right now I see another one of those reinventions going on. I think the problem that and that reinvention is a return to this local independent level so you start to see the emergence of independent
artists who aren't concerned with being signed to major labels. You start to see a real big impact with mix tape deejays and this local community. A celebration of local artists and regional artists. So I see that as the cutting edge but the other cutting edge most certainly in terms of mainstream hip hop is I believe this transition to hip hop is making from just being a cultural movement to it being a political one the problem that both of those movements are up against is that for the first time where we have a situation where the music has a hip hop where older people such as myself and older than me. Let's say Russell Simmons for example is got to be about 45 by now as is Nelson George as is Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa. So you have an older generation that really grew up on hip hop themselves that is listening to the same music that the younger
The Hip Hop Generation: the Crisis in American Culture
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With Bakari Kitwana (former Editor at The Source, and former Editorial Director of Third World Press)
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Art and Culture; community; MUSIC; Race/Ethnicity; race-ethnicity; african-american; Hip Hop
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Guest: Kitwana, Bakari
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Chicago: “Focus; The Hip Hop Generation: the Crisis in American Culture,” 2005-02-21, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 10, 2019,
MLA: “Focus; The Hip Hop Generation: the Crisis in American Culture.” 2005-02-21. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 10, 2019. <>.
APA: Focus; The Hip Hop Generation: the Crisis in American Culture. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from