Hip-Hop and Politics
During Labor Day weekend, Lil' Wayne released his Dedication 4 mixtape to the web. Within hours the mixtape had over 20,000 downloads and at least 50 hip-hop blogger reviews. Of course, I was one of those people itching to download the mixtape and hear some of that Lil' Wayne sound over someone else's beat.
I got exactly what I wanted, popular beats meshed with the mixtape Tunechi I have adored since Drought 3. What I also got, surprisingly was a bit of confusion on the song 'Mercy' where Wayne is joined by YMCMB label mate, Nicki Minaj. Towards the end of Nicki's verse, she spat out, "I'm a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy bitches is fuckin' up the economy.." My eyes widened immediately, and I scrambled to run that part back just so I could be sure I hadn't taken it out of context or misheard her line. Before I could even do a search on Minaj, her name was splattered across the Huffington Post, and she had succeeded at getting her name to spread throughout the media.
Now, my take on this is on the fence, as always. As an avid listener of hip-hop music, Minaj is known for spouting about "bitches" on any and every track she puts out, yet she was so shocked that the media misunderstood this use of "lazy bitches" when coupled with a Presidential reference. The black community does not take it lightly when other black Americans claim the Republican party, especially when she's from South Side, Jamaica, Queens. On the other side of the coin, Minaj is part of that 1% that looks to benefit from Romney as president. Oh! then there is that other small thing that surfaced revealing that Minaj is not a registered voter, which means she had no part in electing our current president. The president she thanked for not taking her comments to heart.
Jay-Z also made political headlines recently, making statements neither for or against the Wall street movement; "What's the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for? I'm not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don't know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?" The protesters on Wall Street are trying to take a stand against the corporate bankers that receive large bonuses and further add to the difference between the diminishing middle class. They are standing against the great divide in wealth that has lost the US it's triple A credit rating.
As much as Jay-Z failed to understand the movement it didn't stop him from using this as a vehicle to shell out T-shirts stating "Occupy Wall Street" through his clothing line Roc-a-Wear. I'm a huge fan of Jay-Z, but he may have made a misstep on this one.
Politics and Hip-Hop are two territories that rarely mix. Politicians of old shy away from the gritty, urban aesthetic of hip-hop in fear that it will hurt their campaign. That was all true until President Obama took office, and openly supported hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z. I attended the Made in America Festival Labor Day Weekend in Philadelphia. Before Jay-Z took the stage, he was introduced by a video recording of the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
America is the only place where two people such as Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj could come from where they were raised and skyrocket to the upper echelon of fame and fortune. I'm grateful for the example of this, but unsure of their involvement in the political world. I'll have to revisit this later...
Here's Russell Simmons take on it:
"So, Jay, here's the deal. You're rich and I'm rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them. Because we know that these special interests are nothing special at all. In fact, they spend millions of dollars destroying the fabric of the black community and make billions of dollars in return...This is just one issue that has been bought and sold. If we have to occupy Wall Street or occupy All Streets to change the course of direction of this nation, then we must. We must take our democracy off the market and let the world know that it is no longer for sale! Mic check!"