Admin Hero1 Posted February 5, 2005 Admin Report Share Posted February 5, 2005 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 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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