Black History Month: The Legacy of H Rap Brown (Imam Jamil Al-Amin )

H rap brown ptOne of the most enduring and dominant figures during the Black Freedom movements of the 1960s and 70s was H Rap Brown of SNCC (Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee) where he served as chairman and later as the Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party.

His fiery oratorical skills often sparked fear in authorities and those in power who he spoke out against. His rhetoric led to him being arrested and accused of inciting a riot in Cambridge Maryland  in 1967 even though police had shot at him, grazing and unarmed Brown in the head hours before any ‘riot’ jumped off.  If anything what took place was a response to what happened to Brown..

Nevertheless, Brown’s harsh words netted him rebukes from the The president and Vice President of the US and made him a major target for then FBI director J Edgar Hoover‘s Cointel-Pro operation Later a law was passed in Congress known as the H Rap Brown law which made it a federal offense to cross state lines with the intent to start a riot.. It was a way to silence activist like Brown and others  who were deemed militant.

For many in the Hip Hop generation, H Rap Brown became known via his book Die Nigger Die which his is autobiography penned in 1969 where  he not only lays out his political vision, but also recounts the various word and rhyme games he played as a youngster growing up in Baton Rouge in the late 1950s. Known as the Dozens Brown’s sharp rhyme tongue led to him getting the nick name ‘Rap‘.  Some of the rhymes found in that book would later go on to be immortalized in songs like Rappers Delight,  in particular the one that read ‘I’m Hemp the Demp the Women’s Pimp..Over the years he’s been named checked and sampled by everyone from Public Enemy on down to Bay Area rapper Paris.

H rap Brown Today H Rap Brown is known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin and he sits in solitary confinement in a super max prison in Florence, Colorado accused of killing tow police officers. It’s a crime that he’s maintained his innocence and in fact has been confessed to by a notorious gang member who lived in the area. He also has a more recent book titled ‘Revolution By the Book; The Rap is Live

Below is an in-depth story that not only chronicles Brown’s life but also lays out the railroading that went down with his case..Thats followed by a couple of clips. One is an insightful interview given by H. Rap on the Gil Noble show. Thats followed by a speech he gave on education..

Rap Sheet: H. Rap Brown, Civil Rights Revolutionary – Cop Killer Or FBI Target?

H Rap Brown on Gil Noble’s Like it Is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izKmQgNmYao

The Politics of Education

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH_5aqVRdjE

Jasiri XReal Rap’..

Dr Martin Luther King; The Power of Soul Music & the Importance of Black Radio

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Historic 1967 Speech to National Association of Radio Announcers


MLK-brown-leanThis weekend we’ll be celebrating Dr Martin Luther King‘s birthday and in doing so we should all be mindful of the power of his words. We should be mindful of King’s words as we continue to dialogue about what sort of responsibility those who speak to the public have especially via broadcast medium especially with respect to Black Radio..We thought we’d take a walk down memory lane and listen to what King had to say about the role BLACK RADIO played in furthering the Civil Rights struggle..It was a speech given in August of 1967 in Atlanta, Ga to NATRA (National Association of TV and Radio Announcers )

In this rare speech which can be heard in its entirety by clicking the link above..King talks about how Black radio has been a transformative tool. He notes that Black radio is the primary source of information in the Black community  and is more powerful medium than even Television which he says was made for the benefit of white people.

King notes that Black radio deejays are important ‘opinion makers’ who made integration easier, through the language of universal language of soul music.  He praised Black radio deejays for helping unite people and Black radio deejays through presenting this music was able to conquer the hearts and minds of people in ways that surpassed Alexander the Great..

J Edgar Hoover

King who challenged Jim Crow laws and discrimination was considered by his enemies to be a rabble rouser who was creating a dangerous climate with ‘incendiary’ words. His words were so powerful that former FBI head J Edgar Hoover saw fit to follow him and try to disrupt his activities via a program called Cointel-Pro. There were many including some Black preachers who did not want King to come to their towns and speak because he would stir things up. His ability to move the masses was threatening.

Now at the end of the day, King was able to help push through the Civil Rights Bill of  1964 which put an end to most Jim Crow Laws. He was able to  help get the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed which ended discrimination practices at the polls. At the same time Kings powerful words so enraged folks, that he was constantly receiving death threats. He also ruffled the feathers of powerful people including President Lydon Johnson after he spoke out against the Vietnam War.
If Kings words were seen as important weapons against discrimination, why are we not seeing the words of today’s far right punditry weapons to support oppression and draconian behavior and policies?

Jack The Rapper

Jack The Rapper

The other thing to keep in mind about Dr King was his shrewd understanding of media in particular radio and what a powerful tool it was. many do not talk about the special relationship King had with Jack ‘Jack tha Rapper Gibson and the nations first Black owned radio station WERD founded in 1949 which was housed in the same building as King’s SCLC headquarters on Auburn street in Atlanta.

Gibson is credited with being the first to broadcast King and other Civil Rights leaders on public airwaves. There are stories about how when rallies and special events were unfolding, King would bang on the ceiling with a broom to the studio housed above him, the disc jockey would lower the boom mic and King would speak to the people via radio.

In this 1967 NATRA speech Dr King delivered the members of this important African American organization were very appreciative as King laid out the indispensable role Black radio had played  in shaping and furthering the Civil Rights struggle. King names off some of the key unsung radio heroes who he says there would not have been a Civil Rights movement had they not reflected the mood of the people and brought critical information to the masses. We hear about Georgie Woods, Pervis Spahn, Magnificent Montague and Tall Paul White to name a few.

King also talks about how radio is the most important and predominant medium in the Black community. It has far more reach and influence than television. He also talks about how the music these Black radio announcers played. King asserted that it helped united people. King pointed out how Blacks and Whites were listening to the same songs and doing the same dances and that the Soul Music these disc jockey’s played had served as an important cultural bridge.

Magnificent-Montague-300He also talks about how some of them were vilified for ‘creating a climate’ that led to the unrest in American cities. Most notable was the radio announcer named Magnificent Montague who had coined the phrase Burn Baby Burn to describe a hot record, but was later used a rallying cry for the Watts Riots of 1965. Montague who was good friends with Malcolm X who had been assassinated earlier that year, was on the air at  KGFJ was accused of riling the people up and causing the mayhem. He had done no such thing, nevertheless LAPD paid him a visit. Montague was made to drop the slogan Burn Baby Burn to Have Mercy Baby.

It’s interesting to note that after King was assassinated many of the Black radio deejays who were vilified were called upon to help quell the riots that were breaking out in cities all over America. The most notable were Petey Greene of Washington DC and Georgie Woods of Philadelphia. One last point we’d be remissed if we didn’t shout out Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin, who has been written out of so much of our history.. King was sharp, but a lot of his media game came via Rustin and we should make note of that…

In addition to speaking about the important role of Black radio played in furthering the Civil Rights struggle, King  also drops gems that many associate with his famous Transforming a Neighborhood Into a Brotherhood speech.. This is the Dr King that has been hidden from us and downplayed where he directly challenges the state and systems of oppression. He’s on point with both his analysis and spirit.. He talks about how white folks were given free land when they moved out west while the sons and daughters of slaves were left penniless via Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination thus putting us far behind.. This is an incredible speech.. So again click the link above and listen to it in its entirety.

With respect to King’s message on Black radio we did a video mash up where we included key excerpts from freedom fighter H Rap Brown who talks about the role of entertainers and how they are often manipulated and used against the community by the White Power structure.

MinisterFarrakhanpoint-225We also have excerpts from Minister Farrakhan talking about BLACK RADIO in his historic 1980 speech given to radio deejays at the Jack the Rapper Convention in Atlanta. He talked about how Black Radio deejays are used as agents to dumb down our thinking. What’s interesting to note is that Farrakhan’s speech came 13 years to the month after King gave his NATRA speech. The time between King’s speech and Farrakhan’s speech we saw so much of Black radio dismantled and so many of the disc jockeys silences and depoliticized. Farrakhan talks about how station owners went out of their way to hire deejays who would talk jive to the people and do very little to uplift them. It’s a trend that many say still exist today.

We round it the mash up with remarks on radio by Hip Hop activists Rosa Clemente made during the historic protest against Hot 97 in spring 2005 and Chuck D during 2Pac‘s Birthday celebration in June of 2005 also in Atlanta. Rosa notes how the people who control NY’s number one Hip Hop station are 7 executives all over 40 who are white men. She accuses them and their deejays of peddling a type of mind drug to the community.

Chuck’s remarks are telling as he notes how elders who are heading up these stations are afraid to grow up and be adults and how they’ve become frightened to speak to their own offspring.

Enjoy.. all these people drop some serious jewels.

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Kanye West vs George Bush-The Katrina Mix-We Remember

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This is a Hip Hop audio mix that captures so of the thoughts sounds surounding the nation’s worst tragedy in history… In this mix you will hear from people like former Black Panther H. Rap Brown, rappers Juvenile & Master P, Mayor Ray Nagin, reporters Sam Sheppard and Geraldo Rivera and of course Kanye West and George Bush

Below is the link to the mix

logoKanyevsBush

Kanye West vs George Bush-The Katrina Mix


This is a audio mix that speaks for itself.. 5years ago.. Monday August 29 2005 Black America got her own 9-11. She was hit with an act of terrorism in New Orleans that was just as devastating if not more than what took place when those Twin Towers were felled by planes… Yes, you read that correctly.. Most people mistakenly believe that the city of New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Lets make sure folks understand this once and for all.. Much of neighboring Mississippi was destroyed by HurricaneKatrina which hit the state with its full level 5 impact.

New Orleans which was initially in the path of Hurricane Katrina was spared at the last moment… What hit New Orleans were winds that were around level 3.. The devastation that took place in New Orleans was the city’s levees broke and the entire 9th Ward and other parts of New Orleans was flooded. Did the winds break those levees? Was it the surge of rushing water?  Thats what’s been suggested. That’s what then President  George Bush told us.. Well here’s the deal.. New Orleans was hit by several acts of terrorism. It started on Monday August 29th 2009 when those levees bursted open..

We attended the International Tribunal for Hurricane Katrina and Ritain 2007 and heard 4 days worth of testamony from residents who were still displaced from their homes. This tribunal was one that was conveened by former Congress woman Cynthia McKinney and a number of organizations in New Orleans. There were a panel of judges who came from all over the world who listened in shock as horror story after horror story was told of what went down in the aftermath of Katrina. The most telling testamonies came from resident after resident who talked about hearing a number of large explosions nearwhere the levees were breached. Talk to the residents of the Lower 9th and they will tell you emphatically those levees were blown up.  After hearing so many speak and documentaries made, where its been emphatically suggested that 9-11 was an inside job, why wouldn’t the blowing up of the levee fall under the same cloud?

But if that’s hard to swallow, lets look at the testamonies that came from engineers who did independent studies. Professor Robert Bea who headed up the engineering team from UC Berkeley spoke at the Tribunal and spoke for a couple of hours where he painstakenly showed how the levees were designed in such a way that they were ‘destined to fail’.    So negligent were the designs that one could only conclude that it was deliberate-hence an act of domestic terrorism.

We heard the horric accounts of police shootings, and vigilante killings of Blacks by roving mobs of whites. Former Black Panther Malik Raheem put together a documentary where he captured white residents bragging how they had gone on pheasant hunts to shoot Blacks seeking refuge in one of the unflooded parts of the city. He estimated there were more than 200 killings. He showed bodies of Blacks who were shot in Algiers in his documentary ‘Welcome to New Orleans’

Again, the terrorism experienced came in the aftermath of Katrina here entire communities mainly poor Blacks were run out of the city with most never to return.  I recall when San Franciso and the Bay Area was devasted by the 1989 earthquake. The entire Marina district in San Francisco home top the wealthy was destroyed. Within a year those houses were fixed. The Bay Bridge that collasped was fixed. The 880 highway that collasped was leveled and eventually replaced.. But the homes in West Oakland where the poor lived still had visible damage 5 years after the quake. In New Orleans 5 years after Katrina we still have the Lower 9th is disrepair and many of the folks still scattered around the country.  If thats not terrorism what is?

something to ponder

-Davey D-

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What is Hip Hop? A Historical Definition Of The Term Rap pt1

A Historical Definition Of The Term Rap pt1

microphoneWhat is rap? Depending on who you ask and from which generation the word  ‘rap’ will take on different meanings. At one point in time ‘a rap’ was a set of excuses a con artist handed you in an effort to deceive you.

In the 70s rap were the words a person used when trying to persuade you. This particularly applied to the persuasive efforts of a young man trying to obtain sexual favors from a female..

Today rap means saying rhymes to the beat of music making it’s one of the four major element within hip hop culture. Because the other elements which include deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti aren’t as widespread, the words Hip Hop and Rap have been used interchangeably over the years..

The truth of the matter is the word rap wasn’t always used to describe this activity. The act of rhyming to the beat of music was initially called emceeing. The term rap first became associated with Hip Hop around 1979 with release of two records in ’79. The first was called King Tim III [Personality Jock] which is considered Hip Hop’s first record. This was track put out by the Brooklyn based Fatback Band. This song was said to be inspired the old rhyme styles of popular Black radio disc jockeys of the 50s and 60s  like Jocko Henderson, Jack The Rapper, Magnificent Montague and Daddy O to name a few. These Black radio deejays would eventually go on to influence pioneering club deejays like DJ Hollywood..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcTP4cvXSP0

Suagrhillgang-old-225The second song that popularized and associated the term Rap with Hip Hop  was the landmark song Rapper’s Delight by Sugar Hill Gang. I’m not quite sure how Sugar Hill came up with the term ‘Rap’. Some say it was already being bantered about within the mainstream media who were then mystified by this new phenomenon.

Others say that the term was coined by older folks within the community in this case Sugar Hill record label owners Sylvia and Joey Robinson who saw similarities between young hip hoppers from the ’70s and the word manipulators of earlier generations where the term rap was used..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljUnyv5XUA8

H-rap-brown-yellow

H Rap Brown

Ironically within the song Rapper’s Delight contains a well-known rhyme which appears to have been borrowed from the former Black Panther and SNCC chairman H.Rap Brown now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin.The rhyme in question appears in Brown’s auto biography written in 1969 called  ‘Die Nigger Die‘. It spoke about his militant approach toward solving some of the ills afflicting Black America. Within his book he spoke about how he obtained his name ‘Rap’. He detailed that when he was growing up in Louisiana people used to play a variety of word games including one called The Dozens.

The purpose of the game was to totally destroy somebody else with words. He noted that in his neighborhood and bear in mind we are talking about the early 60s, there would be close to 50 guys standing around competing against one another in this rhyme game in which people talked about each others mothers. The winner was determined by crowd reaction… Rap Brown got his name his name because he was considered to be one of the most skilled…

In his book H.Rap Brown gives some examples of his rhymes…

I fucked your mama
till she went blind.
Her breath smells bad,
But she sure can grind.

I fucked your mama
for a solid hour.
Baby came out
screaming, Black Power.

Elephant and Baboon
learning to screw.
Baby came out looking
like Spiro Agnew.
[Spiro Agnew was former Vice President under Richard Nixon]

Brown also explained another verbal game called Signifying. He noted that this was verbal game which was more humane than The Dozens because instead of dissin’ someone’s mother you would dis your opponent. He also explained that a skilled signifier knew how to skillfully put words together so you could accurately express your feelings. He concluded that signifying could also be used to make some one feel good. He dropped a rhyme which was used in the movie ‘Five On The Black Hand Side‘ and later immortalized several years later by the Sugar Hill Gang.

Yes, I’m hemp the demp the women’s pimp
women fight for my delight.
I’m a bad motherfucker. Rap the rip-saw the
devil’s brother ‘n law.
I roam the world I’m known to wander and this .45
is where I get my thunder…

The fact that H.Rap refered to his .45 caliber gun may have inadvertently been a precursor to what we call gangsta rap. (This of course is being said with tongue in cheek)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkbKKnKg7dk

Isaac Hayes

Isaac Hayes

As was mentioned earlier the term rap has changed from generation to generation. In the 70s the term not only meant the art of persuasion but it was also used to describe the monologue talking styles used by singing artists like Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls and Millie Jackson. Albums like Isaac Hayes’ ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ and Millie Jackson’s ‘Still Caught Up’ best personified these styles called ‘Love Raps’.

The art of rappin’ with respect to hip hop was characterized by one’s ability to syncopated to a beat. Ideally an emcee rapped from the heart. His rhymes were spontaneous, not memorized or read aloud from a written document.

Of course we now know that most of the great pioneering emcees like Mele-Mel, Grand Master Caz and Kurtis Blow to name a few, all rehearsed and pre-wrote their rhymes. But the approach was to present yourself as if the rhymes were coming off the top of the dome. ..

Ideally a rap is a group of rhymes that are thrown together so everything has meaning. Nothing said is frivolous. It reflects the here and now and ideally the lifestyle of the one rapping. Rap’s ideally projected the emotions and feelings experienced by the rapper. Ultimately and historically an artist rapped for no one but himself. His rap was a call for attention to himself.. He was ideally saying..’Hey look here I am world-Somebody hear my song!’.

And the beat goes on an on an on
It don’t stop rocking till the crack of dawn
when the people hear me rock the funky rap song
The whole damn world wants to hum along
Cause I’m e-lectricic..I’m bigger than life
An everyone calls me Jesus Christ
To The beat y’all check me out..
To the beat y’all check me out..

-Davey D-
Double D Crew..’78

c 1984.. The Power Of Rap..
By dave ‘Davey D’ Cook