Where Political Hip-Hop Lives
You’ve had the debate, I’ve had the debate, someone right now is having the debate, it all spawns from the question: “Is Hip-Hop political?” The camps usually are divided between old school and new school, hip hop and rap, underground and mainstream … in the past 8 years I’ve squarely outgrown this debate. For me, it’s more relevant to ask, which Hip-Hop is political and what are its politics? By far, my favorite political Hip-Hop has come from the Black August Hip Hop Project. The project, orchestrated by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement merges music, politics, and activism and has been doing so for 12 years.
I remember getting fliers for Black August each year and thinking “this is the dopest line up” and remember standing in long lines waiting to see my favorite artists rock. While I can remember the performances to this day, the other thing that stuck me was the emphasis on political prisoners and global hip-hop. The project brought some of the greatest voices, both “conscious” and “non-conscious”, together to raise money and awareness with the goal of movement building. It was this project of MXGM that introduced me to a cadre of young activists who thought like me, cared like me, and most importantly got down like me. This coming Sunday August 30th in NYC at BB Kings The Black August Hip Hop Project will have its annual fundraiser for political prisoners and facilitating international Hip-Hop movement building. What is better than coming out and hearing great music, sweating it out on the dance floor (or standing with an ice grill, that’s on you!), and continuing the work of liberation?
Click here to buy your advanced tickets!!
One of the things that is always a dilemma with dope movements is the documentation of said movement, well Dream Hampton and a number of folks have been working on capturing the Black August Hip Hop Project in a documentary entitled Let’s Get Free: The Black August Hip Hop Project. A trailer for the project can be seen here (embedding is disabled but it’s well worth the click).
To me, asking if Hip-Hop is political is about as useful as asking, “why is the sky blue?/ why is water is wet?” (what you know about that?), it’s self-evident. The better question is what are you doing with your politics since you are Hip-Hop?