#36 - July-December 2004

Vol.18, No. 2
Hip Hop, Race and Cultural Politics
Edited by: 
Yusuf Nuruddin & Victor

The task of Socialism and Democracy is to participate, in a spirit of solidarity, in the development of a radical, theoretically informed popular opposition. We envisage a movement that stands viscerally- and can act...

I. What is Hip Hop?


Hip-hop was born into death, mayhem, and violence.  Hip-hop was the movement that rose from the ashes of the Civil Rights/Black Power movement’s flameout.

I am very much like a lot of heads in the hip-hop generation: I am not...


Life is your right, so we can't give up the fight.
Bob Marley

Defining Hip Hop
From society's periphery, a generation created a cultural...

II. Origins

John H.
McClendon III

Contemporary interest in Rap and Hip-Hop music has once again turned the cultural spotlight on African American music and especially on its locus within the institutional and cultural framework of the United...


Sometimes, music can be a powerful tool in interpreting historical events. Played side by side, two of the most popular songs ever to come out of the Bronx, the Chantals’ “Maybe” and Grandmaster Flash and the...

Todd Boyd -- Interviewed by Yusuf

Yusuf Nuruddin: I spent some time yesterday reading your book The New H.N.I.C.*: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop, and I have a couple of questions about it.  First of all, could you give...

III. Controversy

Abu Jamal

"You remind me of my jeep,
I wanna wax you, baby!
"You remind me of my bank account,
I wanna spend you, baby!"

That's from "You Remind Me of Something" by R. Kelly. The song is smooth, with a...


Every so often a few disgruntles with an agenda line up their cannons to take a shot at hip-hop. In large response to a hip-hop studies movement that is daily gaining momentum, the anti-hip-hop crusaders this time are Black scholars....

Regina Naasirah

Our people have made the mistake of confusing the methods with the objectives. As long as we agree on objectives, we should never fall out with each other just because we believe in different methods, or tactics, or...

IV. The Spread of Hip Hop Culture


Some say I'm too deep, I'm in too deep to sleep Through me, Muhammad will forever speak Greet brothers with handshakes in ghetto landscapes Where a man is determined by how much a man makes... "The 6th Sense...


Many within the hip-hop industry have long feared a day when the origins and foundations of this culture would undergo a corporate-influenced change in order to make it palatable to mainstream America.  Well, in many ways it appears...


I fear chiefly lest my expression may not be extravagant enough…I desire to speak somewhere without bounds.”
-- Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (245...

V. Activism

Mark Anthony

These groups [the black poor of the Mississippi Delta] learned a painful lesson that many scholars have yet to learn; slavery and the plantation are not an anathema to capitalism but are pillars of it…Slavery,...

Lawrence James -- Interviewed by Ron

Ron Hayduk: Maybe you can tell us a little bit about G.A.ME, Grassroots Artists MovEment and how it came into being, your relationship to it.  What’s it about?

Lawrence James:...

Honorable George Martinez -- Interviewed by Ron

Ron Hayduk: How did you get to be called “The Honorable Rithm”?

George Martinez: It’s not like I didn’t have honor before I got elected, but the title Honorable was conferred on me in...

Marcyliena Morgan -- Interviewed by Regina Naasirah

Regina Naasirah Blackburn: You are the founding director of the Hip-Hop Archive,* one of the first scholarly archives devoted solely to hip-hop music and culture, at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard...

Rob "biko"

The predominantly college-aged crowd is growing more starstruck each time Hip-Hop Summit Action Network's Dr. Benjamin Chavis Muhammad introduces another rap icon. It's NBA 2004 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, and summit organizers...


"When you really understand what hip hop is, you know it's not a label at all," declared a participant at a women's-only conclave on a rainy Friday in Newark, New Jersey.  The depth of this wise assessment was plumbed during the first...

VI. The Bigger Picture


Each generation must, out of relative obscurity,
discover its mission, and fulfill it or betray it.
—Frantz Fanon

The contradiction between the unprecedented accumulations of personal wealth by a...



I used to canvass for Amnesty International. They are one of several progressive but not openly radical NGOs I have worked for, and the experience has taught me a great deal about talking politics to strangers....


Reviewed by Cherise

Kevin Powell, Who's Gonna Take the Weight? Manhood, Race and Power in America (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003)

Hip-hop crusader, activist, and cultural critic Kevin Powell, who may be best...

Reviewed by Josh

Jeffrey St. Clair, Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green To Me (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press 2004).

Politics leaves its boot-print on almost every aspect of...


Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of five books. His radio commentaries are accessible via www.fsrn.org (Free Speech Radio) and...