Addressing A comment posted about this interview in another post: Peter said... Yo Oddisee, I just watched that spine tv interview and man... What causes are there to make "political" music today? Have you heard the new Murs & 9th Wonder song, "The Problem Is?" "The problem is we all out for self, in a world that's consumed by greed and wealth/ it's a dog eat dog and we cannibals for capital." And I hate to point it out, but that whole "people in MY neighbordhood are doing good" is a part of the problem... For instance, I just read that "27% of California's young population" face poverty in 2010. So someone else's neighborhood isn't doing so good. The O'Jays sang about it on "Rich Get Richer", and your homie J-Live on "Satisfied" - you really think things have gotten better? In America or worldwide? ODDISEE said... Hello Peter, Ask my grandmother have things gotten better. She's survived the great depression, WWI, WWII, segregation, civil rights movement, DC riots, crack epidemic, Reaganomics, DC violence in the 90's & the current recession. All so we can have a debate on whether or not black Americans have progressed in a blog post showing me (A black man) standing in front of the Berlin wall only 21 years later. Again... I stressed in that interview.. Not all but many
Moved from Diamond District, Trek Life & DJ Quartermaine Euro Tour: Berlin, Germany post:Peter said... For sure, black Americans have progressed, and that is a cause for celebration. But that number of people is pretty damn small compared to the number of children worldwide going hungry each day. You brought up the Berlin Wall - "According to the alarming figures published by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), the number of people below the poverty line - 14 percent of the total population - expanded by a third in the last ten years." This in Germany in 2010. So regardless of select groups of people doing better, the numbers don't lie: the amount of poor people keeps increasing and the rich keep getting richer. I'm definitely not saying you have to make songs about it, but at the same time I wouldn't mind if another Public Enemy came along. Just for that balance your man Quartermaine was talking about.
ODDISEE said... Peter, I fear you're missing my point. The more you use statistics, the further you stray away from the initial question. It wasn't a question about worldwide hunger, it wasn't a question about the 27% of young people living below the poverty rate in California. It wasn't a question about the 14% living below the poverty rate in Germany. the question was- "Are we an apolitical generation/audience?" I choose to answer the question from the stand point of being a black American hip hop artist. over the decades our music has served different purposes. During some of our more trialing times, the music was more political. As blacks have progressed the subject matter of our music has changed. I never once said that there is no need to politically active music, I simply did my best to explain why there would be less of it coming from "Black Artist". Your statistics of poverty have nothing to do with me standing in front of the Berlin wall. The fact that my elders fought for equal rights & desegregation is what my response was about. Me standing in front of the Berlin Wall on the eastern side after performing for an all German audience as a black man is symbolic of Black progression on a world wide scale. In 1989 perhaps I would have wrote a song about one day being able to visit & perform in Germany. Due to progress I don't have to. 27% under still leaves 73% over. 14% under still leaves 86% over. For the last time... Not all, But Many
First off I would like to thank Diamond District, Trek Life and DJ Quartermaine for the conversation. Yes it was just a 'conversation' an interview definitely but expressing your thoughts as hip hop artists in a a very articulate and candid way is not what we as the audience get to see that often. Sadly this is a video clip that so many people are not going to see. To Oddisee I agree completely with your comment about 'black people making it' I'm from Maryland, I've been up and down the east coast, Cali and yes you can never make a blanket generalization but the fact there are MANY in the black middle class speaks volumes. I've been to Germany myself, Heidelberg, Paris as well and As a black American to make that trip says a lot unto itself(not military either) DJ Quartermaine was right though the lack of a visible balance(it is there you guys are representatives) says where our country has gone in general in terms of media. Most of my friends had a hard time understanding my trip to Europe and these are college educated people. Just continue on your current paths, all of you. Many blessingsPeace
Fair enough, Oddisee. We just interpreted the question in a different way. See, I don't know the nationality/ethnicity of the person asking the question, but since the interview took place in Berlin, I automatically assumed the "WE" in the question referred to more than black Americans.I will say though that in my opinion an artist (not a private person) touring the world can't be really symbolic of the progress of a people. MJ did a show in Berlin in 1988 :) And to be serious, e.g. Eric B & Rakim did a tour in Europe around 1990, too. And I bet some LA rappers were touring the world when the 'people' of LA were caught up in the 1992 riots.I realize we are looking at this from two highly different perspectives - one white European, one black American. And historically I fully understand your perspective. But whereas black people doing things for black people can be seen as a good, necessary, thing, white people being concerned and content with their own progress has lead to the sorry ass state of the world today! So I definitely advocate looking beyond one's own community and country to see the whole picture. And Devon, you define progress, "or making it", as being middle class and being able to travel. If the whole world made it and had that standard of living, our whole ecosystem would collapse in no time.
Peter,I'm pretty sure MJ wasn't in "East" Berlin in 1988. All those Hip Hop artist who started to tour Europe then & the Jazz, R&B, Soul artists etc.. paved the the way for me to do so. I thank them for their "progression" of our music and black American culture.Thank you for your opinion.
Btw, as far as contemporary "political music" goes, I consider "Gentrification" to be absolutely up there. And not only because it speaks of your community, but because it's going on all around us.
Peter,I don't understand, poverty exists because of our hierarchy structure, most people in the world strive to be middle class. People just want to make it and not have endure long hard almost indefinite struggles. Yes, compared to my grandparents and even my parents I have 'made it' I don't dismiss the fact that there millions of people in this country and around the world who do not have even a tenth of what I have and capabilities.
DeVon, poverty exists because of our hierarchy structure, yes. Is that hierarchy natural? No, poverty is a result of people at the top exploiting the people at the bottom. And it takes us in the middle to hold that structure together.Sure, who wouldn't want to be materially comfortable (focusing on that aspect of being middle class) - which doesn't mean having a bunch of shit I don't need. However, there are bunch of middle class values that I can't get with: materialism, conformism, obsession with status and propriety, etc. I don't think those are healthy ideals for people to strive for.And Oddisee, not to beat on a dead horse, but I just happened to watch that Stand interview you did, where you describe yourself as "politically savvy." I definitely agree with that and that's why I was so thrown off by your comment in the SpineTv thing. So please keep doing what you do.
Peter,I chose to answer the question from the stand point of popular rap as a whole & the listeners of popular rap. I wasn't answering it from my own pint of view. the way the question was put in the conversation, made me talk about the possibly reasons political rap isn't as prevalent today.Why you think social & political rap isn't as prevalent with artists & listeners today?
I wouldn't mind seeing more interviews of artists in this fashion. It almost comes off like a mini-documentary. I like the way they have the rhymes fading in-between the convo's... and the topic yall are discussing is good.I don't know if it was only meant for Peter but, I'll take a stab at that question you asked him...I think social & political rap isn't as prevalent with artists & listeners today because, people's appreciation levels and attention spans have changed. It takes time to tackle social & political issues... and the average listener doesn't have the patience for that. The world has become too accessible to everyone and there's too many options of things to pay attention to.As in, people don't watch the news anymore, they watch YouTube... they don't watch soap operas, they watch reality TV... and why watch 12 rounds of boxing when you can watch 12 fights of UFC?I said that to say this, for social & political rap to prevail in this day, it might have to be presented as extreme as those comparisons.
Kid Captain Coolout,I definitely agree that people's attention spans have changed (for the worse), mine included. The amount of information we have access to is simply unprecedented in history. That said, you don't need patience to get Public Enemy or Ice Cube. On the contrary, that shit is some of the most immediate, in-your-face music ever created. Like Chris Rock said, "If you make some ignorant beats, you can say all the smart shit you want."Why that type of music isn't more prevalent today, I don't know. Unabashedly political rappers like Immortal Technique are still popular I think (would he be as popular if he WASN'T political?). And Kanye's "Diamonds from Sierra Leone" was pretty big. But hip hop at this point is mainstream culture, and I guess it's kinda hard to be anti-establishment when you're part of the establishment. Furthermore, when rap was blowing up and records were still selling, major labels weren't so particular about who they would sign. In that climate, a group like PE had room to blow up. Ras Kass could release "Nature of the Threat" on a major label. Today he's asking fans for money to even get his record pressed up. So it's a lot of factors.
Peter,You're absolutely right, there are a lot of factors to consider. I began with over-accessibility because, I believe it's the root to our (current) imbalance. With so many people becoming artists at will, it's altered the value of an artist alone. For many, there's no longer a challenge to take part... no ranks to climb through and no dues to be paid. This is why I think their appreciation for what they're doing, isn't the same as it once was.I'm skipping over the reasons why Southern hip-hop is so prevalent...I think a large part of today's hip-hop world participates without a genuine purpose. There are more people involved for attention, than there are for anything else. Again, I'm citing technology for detaching folks from reality. The internet allows people to exist in the world without having to experience anything first hand. How can we be socially or politically effective, when we're not being active in either anymore?
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