ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Black people create mainstream, white people control mainstream. So now when
you take your ability to spit (rhyme and rap) it took a while for them to catch up
to yall, they tried with the Beastie Boys they tried again with Vanilla Ice.
Freddie Foxxx a.k.a. “Bumpy Knuckles”
Spits Truth At Hip Hop 101
By Junious Ricardo Stanton
Attorney, activist and WHAT radio talk show host Michael Coard is passionate about life, justice and black liberation. He is an activist in the truest sense in that he is not one to sit back with a “Let George Do It” attitude and spectate on the sidelines of life. Coard noticed that when he went to venues featuring Hip Hop artists very often the only other Africans in the spot were the artists themselves.
Not wanting Hip Hop to go the way of Blues, Jazz and R&B, co-opted by corporate America, ripped off by white imitators and wannabes Coard elected to do something about it. He started teaching a course called Hip Hop 101 at Temple University’s Pan African Studies Community Education Program better known as PASCEP. The Thursday night course is quite popular for a variety of reasons, Coard unabashedly promotes Hip Hop as an extension of African culture, he encourages students to participate, stand up and share their poetry rhymes and beats, he stresses critical thinking, language comprehension and lyrical skills, and understanding all of the elements of Hip Hop–the M.C., the DJ and mixing, break dancing. and graffiti.
In addition he brings in professional artists like Chuck D of Public Enemy, The Last Emperor, DJs like Lady B and Mamma Wit The Drama. Last Thursday’s guest was New York MC Freddie Foxxx, who has been in the “game” since the late ’80’s having worked with the likes of KRS-One and Naughty By Nature as well as launching his own solo career. Freddie Foxxx came on set to speak to the class and promote his latest CD KONEXion. As usual and especially when a special guest is in the house, the class was full. Freddie came from an historical perspective about black creativity juxtaposed with white control and exploitation.
Before he hit full stride Foxxx had to put an obnoxious “know it all” Caucasian in his place, to the delight of most of the class. Foxxx touched on a wide range of topics and gave an insider’s view of the industry. Speaking on why the majority of fans at Hip Hop concerts are Caucasian Foxxx stated, “The reason why you see a majority of shows where there are more white kids than black kids in the audience is because black people have a ‘court jester mentality’. Black people in America and world wide have been trained to entertain. The reason they have been trained to entertain is because as slaves, their ability to perform for the master has caused them to want to be the dancer, the singer, the guitar player, the violin player while the white man seduced them with respectable business. Respectable business is simply the art of calming you down while they stick you up.”
Elaborating on this theme Foxxx shared how corporate America traditionally exploits and misuses black artists. Foxxx told the audience he planned to chip away at their misconceptions and even their self esteem about being MCs or rappers but he was doing it with the goal of replacing it ten fold. “Don’t get mad at me, hopefully I can walk out of here and not have to kick nobody’s ass. I want to get at you so you can really understand what’s going down.”
During his hour and a half lecture Foxxx touched on a myriad of issues. One of the main things he told the class was, “If you expect someone to invest in you (as an artist), the first thing I look at is to see how much you’ve invested in yourself. The first form of self-investment is when you get up in the morning, how do you take care of yourself before you walk out that door. How do you present yourself to the public? How do you approach people?”
Then he launched into a history lesson about color and music, “Back then when Lloyd Price and Fats Domino created for Rock and Roll what is now the heartbeat, which is the back beat in the music; the drum from Africa is the heartbeat to all black music. In 1952 the back beat was created by two black men Lloyd Price and Fats Domino.
“Elvis Presley recorded (did his version of Lloyd Price’s) ‘Lawdy Miss Claudy’ twice, Chuck Berry didn’t invent Rock and Roll he enhanced it. The white man came in and stole it; Middle America, there’s no beat to their music. Black music in America was the homicide for Lawrence Welk and the other no-beat white music. When you know the creation of black music and where it comes from you realize black music is the biggest export in America, black music is totally exploited by white America. They control popular media, they control the way it gets exposed.
“Black people create mainstream, white people control mainstream. So now when you take your ability to spit (rhyme and rap) it took a while for them to catch up to yall, they tried with the Beastie Boys they tried again with Vanilla Ice. They tried to make the white MC bigger than Hip Hop, how can you do that, how can you make one person bigger than the entity itself?
“Hip Hop music was created as an escape for the woes of the ghetto that’s why it was created. It wasn’t created to say , who is the nicest, who has the most jewelry, that only came about when it was discovered Hip Hop was worth something. We have been robbed again of our creative juices, abilities and you know who I want to thank for allowing this stick up to go down, you. (pointing at the audience) I don’t mean just you in this room I mean everybody that looks like you because people have forgotten about developing themselves as artists.”
Foxxx explained the attraction of Hip Hop to white kids, that it was an outgrowth of their rebellion and alienation from their families too obsessed with success to pay them any attention, that white rebellion linked with a black creativity spawned by black’s rebellion and rage against negative conditions could in fact be good.
“The rebellion of the white kids and the rebellion of the black kids even though they are for different reasons come to the same level. They actually need each other. When a white kid is in the midst of black kids, corporate America will kill their own to kill us. ‘What does that have to do with Hip Hop Foxxx, I just want to spit’,” Foxxx asked mockingly.
“White kids have a key to the door, the door, the financial door that you need to get your skills to mass media that their people control. What’s the problem of them pulling the load for a little while? If he’s willing to play his role and I’m willing to play my role we can both get money. Hip Hop is about rebellion, the sad part about it, is we don’t have any control over it.”
Foxxx stayed well past the time allotted for the class and most of those in attendance stayed until the end, hanging on his words during the question and answer session. Coard’s vision of the Hip Hop 101 class continues holding forth, providing insight into the culture as well as stimulating thought.
13 April 2003
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#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
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#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
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#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
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#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 19 December 2011