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nelly ignores hip hops political power


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Nelly’s comments ignore hip-hop’s political power

Date: Friday, October 08, 2004

By: Walter Higgins, BlackAmericaWeb.com

What would hip-hop music be without Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Tupac or the revolutionary lyrics of Dead Prez?

Don’t know? Well ask platinum-selling rap artist Nelly.

The rapper, whose real name is Cornell Haynes, Jr. urged fellow entertainers to keep politics out of music if they want to stay successful in a recent interview with Blender magazine.

“Some people don’t want politics in their music,” said Nelly. “Some people want their music to be uplifting so they can have fun and dance.”

“If you want to do the politics thing, be more involved personally, but you could talk about that and then tomorrow wake up and you’re not selling records. So now you protested the war…and your broke!”

Critics say that Nelly’s comments ignore the political legacy of hip-hop and the powerful social influence it has today.

“That’s basically a slap in the face to Public Enemy and others who have come before him and changed the face of hip-hop more than he ever will,” said Aaron Bernard, a hip hop activist and program director for KJAMZ 105.3 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“It’s sad for somebody in his generation of hip-hop to say something like that because he sells so many records and has so much influence. He doesn’t have to make conscious records, but to say that no one else should is ridiculous,” added Bernard.

While Nelly’s album sales just passed the 30 million mark, the ‘politics thing’ has not damaged the record selling potential of other artists.

Jadakiss’ platinum selling “Why,” sparked controversy by questioning the Bush administration’s knowledge of the September 11 attacks. Kanye West’s album sales increased after the release of “Jesus Walks,” a song that blurs the lines between politics and spirituality.

With more hip hop artist realizing their social influence, Bakari Kitwana, author of “The Hip-Hop Generation,” added several big names in the hip hop community have begun to direct their energy toward the political arena, including Russell Simmons, Jay-Z and P Diddy.

“Hip-hop is political,” said Kitwana. “His comments defy what is going on now, 5 years ago or 20 years ago.”

All the critics agreed that Nelly’s comments represent the difference between hip hop culture and the mainstream appeal of rap music which is driven by record sales.

“For him to say keep politics out of the music is basically saying he’s not hip-hop,” said Greg Thomas, professor at Syracuse University. “How do you have black music without politics? Look at all the people we would loose.”

“Nelly is rap, he is not hip hop, there is a difference,” said Kitwana. “The mainstream attention has been good but the downside has been the pioneers don’t get respect and people aren’t really studying the art and culture of hip-hop.”

Although Nelly says his music is solely for dancing and having fun, Thomas says it can become a political statement when it promotes negative images common in rap music.

“He’s not keeping politics out his music when it comes to his views on women,” said Thomas, referring to controversy surrounding the ‘Tip Drill’ video in which Nelly swipes a credit card through a black woman’s backside.

The video initiated a protest at Spelman College that led to Nelly canceling a charity event there last April.

Nelly also raised eyebrows when he unveiled his Pimpjuice Energy Drink last November, which caused a national boycott by a coalition of black consumer activists. Plus, he started the P.I.M.P. Scholars program that gives grants to college students.

When asked if the brand of rap currently dominating the airwaves will ever change, Bernard said there is a “bright light” at the end of the tunnel.

“There are plenty of artists out there that still make you move but come from a different direction, people like that are going to last,” said Bernard. “ Songs like Nelly’s are going to come and go because they are disposable

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That just shows you how ignorant Nelly is! :ditto:

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Some people clown me when i talk about the difference between Hip-Hop and Rap. They can keep clownin' me all they want, cuz a Hip-Hop historian just supported my point with a comment in that article.

Nelly is a pretty ignoarant person when it comes 2 music. His lyrics are trash and his beats are empty, trendy and disposable. There are a few trax by him that i like, like Over And Over, Ride Wit Me, Dillemma, and My Place....but it's simply 4 the song...not the substance. He has what it takes 2 sell some records now, but he dosen't have what it takes 2 stick around much longer. U'll see the same thing happen 2 50 Cent, Ja-Rule, and lots of others. When u make music stricly 2 make money, u will fall flat on your face in a matter of time. That's why i like artists like Fresh Prince. He'll do something strictly 4 the clubs and sales, like "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It"...but then he'll turn around and do a song like "The Rain." One dementional artists can't stand the test of time...but FP, LL, and Latifah have accomplished this feat, and their music backs all that up.

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My take: hip hop does not HAVE to come w/ a political or social msg, as was suggested by some ppl quoted in the article. Look at alotta classic Fresh Prince stuff-- just harmless, oftentimes message-less rhymes, that, as Nelly says, are fun and make you wanna dance. No problems there. But to say rap SHOULDN'T have a political msg for reasons of profit-- what a joke. Rap, poetry to a beat, is, maybe more than any other genre of music, all about expression. And if you do have somethin political u wanna say-- like Public Enemy did, like Tupac did, and as Will does (occasionally)-- you should say it when u step up to the mic. The charts & record sales shouldn't factor in to that decision. People are always ranting on these boards about the commercialization of hip hop and these quotes from Nelly exemplify that like no other. The sure-fire Nelly plan for success: flood the market with cookie-cutter rap tracks that have catchy & repetitive beats, laced w/ meaningless & interchangeable choruses, w/ unimaginative, bland rhymes in between. If at all possible, project the ridiculously tired & stereotyped image of a "P.I.M.P." that dominates the radio airwaves today. Gosh.

SHAKE YA TAILFEATHA! :dancingcool: :dancingcool: :dancingcool:

Edited by scyhigh99
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just as a human to try and accept that your responsibility should just have fun and dance and don't think is enough to make me lose all respect for him. however i never had any respect for him to begin with. hip hop in my opinion is whatever you feel, and is certainly an open expression form. should marvin gaye have left social problems out of his music? what about bob marley? john lennon? didn't seem to hurt there record sales. i take issue with anyone who thinks we should not worry about politics and just worry about getting money. politics is what governs all of us.-trex

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...i take issue with anyone who thinks we should not worry about politics and just worry about getting money. politics is what governs all of us.-trex

:werd: I think the problem is with a lot of rappers is that they all of a sudden act socially conscious when it's election time 'cause it's a hot topic that could boost their sales but for the next 4 years they won't rap anything conscious, Nelly is another one of those hypocrites.

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I don't think it's important 2 rap about politics. I myself don't follow them much at all...but when i wrote alot, i did write about the state of the world and life. Nelly (and most chart-topping artists) don't have anything benificial 2 say in their music. It's one thing if he wazn't preaching poison...but he's out there talking about material things and smoking weed, AND saying that it's important 2 steer away from anything serious...that's just sad.

When Grandmaster Flash + The Furious Five did "The Message," it waz a landmark cuz it waz as honest as could be. Many Public Enemy and KRS-One trax did well or are well-respected cuz u are hearing it from someone who knows what they are talking about. Other classics like "Self Distruction" (Heavy D + The Boyz, Doug E. Fresh, Ms. Melody, etc) and "Waterfalls" (TLC) did well cuz the artists wrote the songs and can across in a personal way. But when u hear Jadakiss' "Why" is comes off very weak and unneccessary. He either is totally faking it 4 sales or his other music simply has really spoke 2 the people deeply, which is why the song dosen't work. Alot of current rappers like 50 Cent, Ludacris, Lil' Jon, and Chingy could never do a political song cuz their teenybopper fans wouldn't understand them and real Hip-Hop heads could never respect a song like that from them since it seemed forced or fake since their other songs have no real meaning 2 them. We haven't heard a real song about life commercially in Hip-Hop/Rap simply cuz the artists can't handle it. Black Eyed Peas pulled it off with "Where Is The Love"...but i can't remember the last time a song like that waz done.

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hey, AJ's right, nelly has to understand, since he is in hip hop, he has to respect it, and during hip hop the artists have always had a voice, ever since tupac said "Me Against The World" without political songs and persuasive songs, to show us the fans in what is really going on today, but i was confused in why it was nelly since he was in that "Whats Going On" a remake of Marvin Gaye with loads of artists,

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... We haven't heard a real song about life commercially in Hip-Hop/Rap simply cuz the artists can't handle it. Black Eyed Peas pulled it off with "Where Is The Love"...but i can't remember the last time a song like that waz done.

How about that song by Twista & Faith Evans called "Hope", that song seems to have a lot of heart and is doing well commercially. In recent years Nas' "One Mic', Talib Kweli's "Get By", and Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" have had commercial success by addressing issues in society, but that's basically it, everything else has been bootyshaking, crunk songs, there has to be more balance in hip-hop, everything's all the same now, we have to have different types of mcs getting record deals, not the same name brand rappers all the time.

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nelly has to understand, since he is in hip hop, he has to respect it

Not Hip-Hop....toss Nelly in2 the "Rap Bin."

Twista + Faith's "Hope" is an incrdible song. I'd like 2 see this song do well for a few more months. That song is flawless. The Coach Carter soundtrack dosen't look very good, but if the song isn't released on an import single, i'm gonna have 2 get it cuz the song is that incredible.

Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" didn't impress me much. I like the song, but i think it waz very overated. Not 2 many people REALLY felt the song 4 it's lyrics. When i went 2 see Musiq in B-more, the DJ played the song b4 Musiq performed and these girls, who, 4 the most part, were strippers with cloths on, danced 2 the song. I waz just like, "how can u come here in boots and a skimpy dress and dance like that 2 "Jesus Walks."

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