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Fight The Power (Again): We Need A Next-Gen Revolution

Unbiased, unfiltered; an educated unity that can lead everyone to a greater good. Hip-hop can do that! Hip-hop HAS done that.

The old saying goes if you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. Hip-hop was once a weapon — and not metaphorically, either. It was an underdog that rallied like minds together in an unprecedented way that was simultaneously feared and admired by the establishment. Whether challenging the social system that oppressed a large portion of the underprivileged, attacking [perceived] social injustice, or breathing relevance into ills that existed within urban communities hip-hop [often] called for awareness, change, and — above all — unity.

KRS-ONE, for example, used his well-earned platform to educate about the history of African culture, shine a spotlight on the illicit activity of supposed “powers that be,” and provide an unbiased education on the roots of racism in America. Public Enemy, as well, focused on the deep-rooted sense of [black] self, helped popularize Minister Farrakhan, and — according to Russell Simmons — Chuck D had an [inspirational] hand in making the monumental Million Man March happen. Golden Era hip-hop [on a whole] had a number of large-scale “campaigns.” BDP spearheaded theStop The Violence movement that brought together the biggest voices in the game (which oddly/ironically) included Eazy-E, also, the H.E.A.L movement, which focused on the ‘healing’ of inner city communities plagued with [numerous] issues not limited to violence and rampant drug abuse. Another example is America Is Dying Slowly, a musical piece aimed at raising awareness about the rise in AIDS in America.

Hip-hop was an unquenchable flame — and once it’s commercial appeal was fully embraced and realized, it became big business; unfortunately, this came at the cost of substance. Today, we’re seeing a rise in documented [police] violence, horrific social injustice, and a political crossroad more stark than we’ve ever experienced. Yet, some of the culture’s biggest and brightest voices have marbles in their mouths, and would rather pander to commercial radio than risk ostracizing their industry status, and overly lavish lifestyles. When we [AAHIPHOP] recently polled out Twitter followers, 75% felt that these artists had a responsibility to use their platforms for the greater good — to speak out about what’s happening and influence discussion/change.

I don’t want to create that illusion that there aren’t revolutionary voices, though. Killer Mike, for example, is stepping out from behind the mic, and encouraging the black community to support their own [businesses], and strengthen unity at an individual level. As well, many artists, have openly supported movements like #BlackLivesMatter and poured millions into charities that support many notable causes. I’m just wondering when we’ll see 30 of the highest selling artists get together on record to provide clear [unbiased] direction and leadership, together — unified. Think Tidal, but with a far less self-serving mantra than how much money artists receive from album streams. Openly supporting popular movements and hashtags on Twitter or wearing [social activist] shirts is one thing, but organizing a million people to assemble and peacefully demonstrate is another. I’m nothing thinking macro like “Fuck Trump,” I’m thinking larger scale, like a let’s challenge a system that would force a vote for a lesser of two evils rather than strong candidates — free of questionable/objectionable actions or thinking. Instead of “Fuck The Police,” how about, let’s celebrate and support the good officers who work hard to protect their communities and put themselves at risk daily to provide for their families, not unlike firefighters or soldiers.

Let’s topple those who think the opposite, and work to build up and elect regional and municipal officials who will prosecute “bad officers” to the fullest extent of the law — and finally bring justice to families who have suffered unimaginable loss. Unbiased, unfiltered; an educated unity that can lead everyone to a greater good. Hip-hop can do that! Hip-hop HAS done that.

This time [in history] is ripe for the next generation to make a mark so cultural significant that a quasi-jaded head like me will write about it thirty years from now — and call for similar social accountability from artists that are prevalent in that era. Let’s smarten up, get together, and organize.

Let’s do this.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns