INTELLECTUAL PROPERTYPeace. It's been a minute since I've talked about some deep shit, I know. It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you, without...well, you know the rest. Today I'm going to dissertate regarding America's favorite, and least favorite, topic - race. First and foremost, it's a construct; period point blank. Who's white? Who's Black? It's 2005, and we're living in the last days. Obviously, the Original hue-man being was a Black person. The origins of human beings here on Earth started in the fertile crescent, the concentric circles of civilization, the Nile River Vally, Egypt, Africa, and their dynasty is so great that same land remains today. Sadly our government wants the precious natural resources underneath that land - oil - to fuel America's need for gasoline. After all, Americans must drive their Hummers, Escalades, Navigators, Durangos, Pathfinders, Benz jeeps, Range Rovers, and the like. Ass, gas or cash; nobody rides for free, right? So right now, while you're sipping your Latte, smoking your light cigarette, breathing air (one of the last things that's "free"; but soon to be added to the long list of things commodified); innocent American people who made a choice to join an "armed force" are killing innocent Iraqi people, and while the beast of Babylon here in the wilderness grows greater, and stronger, and faster; the Middle East is on fire - a sea of sorrow, a smoking pile of brimstone. But all of that is on the surface. Dubya and his posse can take all the weapons of mass destruction they can get their greasy snake-hands on and fire away - the Pyramids at Giza still stand. The Sphinx, worn by erosion yet still in full muthafucken effect, will still be there in the desert sands. Dunya vs. Dubya? The Dunya will prevail, no matter who may tell what tale.
So now, back to this fabulous "nation" of Amerikkka. Part of "The Americas," which span from the southernmost tip of the continent of South America, all the way on up to the tippy-tip top of the North Pole. We have pyramids here too, by the Way, courtesy of the Toltecs, Aztecs, Mayans, and the Original inhabitants of what is now known loosely as "South America". The fact is this is no nation. As George Clinton so brilliantly pointed out, there is in fact, one nation under a groove. Getting down just for the funk of it. We're here, and we're billiions strong. We come from the bottoms and rise up, like how cream rises to the top. And in this one nation under a groove, there are people of every race, color, creed, nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, construct, construct, construct, etc. that you can name.
Someone said to me not too long ago, well how can you have a website called Pyramids to Projects and you're white? I personally take umbrage at being called white. I am not white. I am cream, beige, brown, and pink; if we're talking the Pantone pallet of my skin colors. I have a couple of "moles" and "beauty marks" which are chocolate-colored. Many have often cited these marks on skin, whether the skin is light or dark in its totality, as being the most clear indictor that the person is of mixed "race". In terms of my family and ancestry, obviously I have some European ancestors, as well as some Asiatic ancestors. In terms of my blood family living today, we are Californians, Mexicans, Javanese/Indonesian. As the count of nieces and nephews rises, and I work toward starting a family of my own, odds are that we'll soon be adding some other "races" to the mix. In terms of my true and living family, we are One. All the work that I've put in in my life, in terms of literal work as an author, writer, A&R, musician, creator; and in terms of work in the streets and work with the people, has been work put in to factologize the his-story that's been mis-represented. And the work I put in in the streets, although on the surface could be looked at as negative or miserable, was in fact put in to gain wealth and power; gains which have gone and will continue to go directly to the poor, the disenfranchised, the young, the under-represented - myself and all of my family included.
Within Hip Hop and the music biz today, it's starting to open up a bit in terms of "race". For me, someone who goes waaaaay back in Hip Hop culture, there've always been "whites" and "Jews" and "jewish" folks rocking in Hip Hop - some good, some evil. Because this is a Black culture, and when I say Black I mean African-American at the root and inclusive of all members of the Diaspora. Black includes Carribean peoples, Native peoples, "Latino" peoples...hopefully you all get this point and I don't have to elaborate further.
Everyone wants to talk about this and that about Eminem, without question the most famous white face in Hip Hop to date. I can't stand his whiny, irritating voice when he raps; although when I've heard him speak in interviews I find his speaking voice to be very smooth. I don't dig his music, not that he's not an incredible lyricist, spitter, freestlyer, battle rhymer, and creative artist - he is. The voice just kills it for me. However, as a person, Marshall Mathers slash Eminem seems like a good dude. He's a terribly shrewd businessman. The other day on MTV Jams he and 50 were sitting there joking about how Em's going to retire and 50's going to take over his spot and be on TV so much it'll make you sick...even though he's already on TV so much it makes me sick.
So basically Eminem is Baby Elvis, the one who took the Hip Hop generation's version of "Race Music" and made it all right, 'cause it's all white. Not that the Beastie Boys didn't do it...but they didn't really. They made a Hip Hop album, License to Ill, at he bequest of Russell Simmons and the illustrious Rick Rubin. They were basically rock cats, and after they got their one B-Boy joint off, License to Ill, they went back to some bugged the fuck out poliwog stew style punk rock fuck shit like what. And now they're all about the Dali Lama.
Someone asked me recently how I felt about Paul Wall grabbing that honey-blonde-dyed Black woman in the Sittin video. How do I feel about it? First of all, Paul Wall is what's really hood. Paul wall is a nigga. Paul Wall isn't a figment of some spoiled upper-middle-class white boy's own imagination. Paul Wall is most obviously from the bottoms. Infinite told me the other day Paul Wall's daddy was a heroin addict. FIEND - there's one in every family. The last time I spoke to my own father, who also was a heroin addict as it so happens, he ended the convo with this gem... "Well, I was the first white nigger," before he hung up the phone in my face (some people say goodbye or talk to you later, pops just introduces you to the homie tone like that).
First of all, he's born in the 1930s so you have to excuse the term "nigger". With all the amazing Black music my father has been a part of composing, recording, producing and performing over the years; and with playing with so many legends of Jazz and Rock music - the O.G. Black musical forms from this lovely little wilderness we call the "United States" - I don't think that he means that word in a negative or racist context. Just like, as I'm sure, Paul Wall may have occasion to say "nigga" when chopping it up with his homies or screwing with some broads.
So what does it all mean? Like I keep trying to say, regardless of race, color, creed, nationality, upbringing, socio-economic status, ethnic heritage, religion/school of thought, or whatever other construct you'd like to use to dictate the shit...YOU DON'T DICTATE SHIT. Hip Hop is global. Hip Hop is massive. Hip Hop transcends musical genre, it's a culture AS WELL AS a lifestyle, born from change, steeped in the tradition of poverty and "Inventos" - making up something out of nothing, for fun, for wreck, for props, for braggadocio, and for upliftment.
When someone picks up a microphone somewhere, Black, White, Mexican, Asian, or purple with green stripes; and he/she does it with the sole intent of getting paid..that person is a rapper. And where I come from, rappers get their heads tooken off, on a daily basis, eight ways to Sunday...Monday through Sunday.
L. A., C.A., .... ALL DAY