This weekend Something from Nothing The Art of Rap opens in theaters this weekend and as I noted in my earlier review it is absolutely deserving of an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary. It’s compelling, witty and much-needed in terms of refocusing us on what Hip Hop and rap in particular is really about. Ice T who made the film really did his thing..
Earlier this week Chuck D of Public Enemy who is featured in this documentary alerted us to an excellent article On Blackness, Humanity and the Art of Rap that his wife Dr Gaye Theresa Johnson had penned for the Huffington Post. She absolutely nails it and I urge everyone to read it.. She kicks things off:
Blackness — in style and sensibility — has been one of the most admired, most reviled, most circulated, and least credited set of characteristics in the history of commodification. And there can be no better example of this than hip hop. When rap music first gained mainstream traction in the late seventies, its artists were dismissed and disrespected by politicians, pundits, and the music business itself. But by the late eighties, the same corporate bodies who had previously shunned it were making millions of dollars selling it. By 1990, label executives had created a “gangsta formula,” a business hook that repackaged rap’s depictions of black urban realities into a titillating buffet of hypermasculinity and glorified violence, relegating women artists to the margins and creating a new outlet of expression for what became its largest consumer demographic: young white men.
She also notes…
The Art of Rap writes humanity back into rap music in a moment when black people are more popular than ever in mainstream society, but in some incredibly damaging ways. We’ve mistaken the proliferation of black images in the media for the notion that there is some kind of equality of positive representation of black humanity.
peep the entire article HERE
In reading Dr Gaye’s article and reflecting on the film, it wasn’t lost on me how the this weekend’s box office opening was downplayed as we were met with lots of noise about the opening of the movie Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Jay-Z opening his new 40/ 40 Club in the new Barclay Center and the ugly fight between singers Chris Brown and Drake. If you live in NYC the police killing of a young black women in Brooklyn who they say was in a stolen car has also dominated the headlines.
Don’t get me wrong, at this point in time, one shouldn’t expect the mainstream media to do right by us. The pedalling of corporate interests including sensationalized stories of Black pathology, death and violence, all big money-makers in America, will be highlighted before stories depicting our true selves. There will always be fierce resistance to acknowledging and embracing our humanity.
With that being said, the way to combat that is to take note and do as Ice T did, reaffirm who we truly our on our own terms and our own dime and do what Hip Hop momentarily forgot to do which is build its own institutions. In talking with Ice T the other day, he said it was important to uplift the culture and give something back. He also noted the importance of constantly hustling and not shying away from the grind. Hence even if this movie is not the main priority for some big wig media power broker, its gonna shine, because we make the moves to make it happen.
To help promote this film we seen Ice leverage his celebrity status to show up on outlets like Jimmy Fallon, The Today Show and Wendy Williams to name a few..
As for the rest of us, change comes when we revolutionize our thinking, readjust our values and take those first steps to shedding the dictates of out of control, consumerist corporate agendas. In other words ‘they’ are gonna stick to their game plan, will we stick to ours?
In supporting this movie we can stick to ‘our’ game plan by passing along the link below which lists the theaters where Art of Rap is showing in your city .http://bit.ly/NDe3XD
You can stick to the game plan by by talking this movie up the way we talk up beefs and petty gossip. Lastly lwe can stick to our game plan by getting back in the habit of digging and seeking out new music and new artists vs waiting for them to show up via our radio or some other commercial outlet.. It used to be a time corporations chased the streets to try and discover what was new and hip. Today we chase the corporations who in turn sell us repackaged goods.. Let’s flip the script on that.. Enjoy the weekend and the Art of Rap