ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Hip Hop is a continuation of an eons old tradition dating back into African antiquity as manifested
in the Hieroglyphics (Graffiti) Egyptian martial arts and movements which were transplanted to
this hemisphere as Capoeria (break dancing), the ancient oral and written traditions of Africa,
the Egyptian Scribe and West African Griot (MC and rapper) and of course the drum (the beat).
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Books on Rap & Hip Hop
Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (1994)
Russell A. Porter, Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (1995)
Bakari Kitwana, The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture (2003)
Imani Perry, Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (2004)
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Hip Hop 101 Droppin’ Knowledge
Preserving The Culture
By Junious Ricardo Stanton
Attorney, community activist, WHAT 1340 AM talk show host and lover of Hip Hop, Michael Coard is moving full blast with this semester’s Hip Hop 101 course in Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP) on Thursday evenings in the Anderson Hall auditorium.
The first session started off with a lecture and rap (pardon the pun) session by a local MC The Last Emperor who regaled the full house with his experiences as part of a eleven man crew who where thick as thieves who supported each other and helped facilitate his development as a writer/MC. But more on The Last Emperor later.
Coard originally conceived of the idea of having a course to explain and teach the core principles and elements of Hip Hop when he noticed there were few people of African descent at the local venues featuring Hip Hop artists. Not wanting Hip Hop to go the way of other genres of African-American music, Jazz, Blues, Rhythm and Blues co-opted and corrupted by Euro-American capitalism and benightedness, Coard decided to offer a course about Hip Hop.
Over the last few years his course has developed as a venue for aspiring MC’s to come and try out their material in front of a aesthetically and culturally critical audience, learn about artistic integrity from people like former Philly radio DJ Lady B, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Poor Righteous Poets and The Last Emperor. Not only is Coard’s grass roots class free and open to the public, it remains true to African culture and the spirit of creativity. In fact at one point the banner on the promotional material about the course read, “If you’re rhyming for the loot, you are a prostitute.”
Coard is of the opinion that Hip Hop is a continuation of an eons old tradition dating back into African antiquity as manifested in the Hieroglyphics (Graffiti) Egyptian martial arts and movements which were transplanted to this hemisphere as Capoeria (break dancing), the ancient oral and written traditions of Africa, the Egyptian Scribe and West African Griot (MC and rapper) and of course the drum (the beat).
In his opening remarks The Last Emperor also made the connection between the Egyptian and Olmec First World cultures, today’s African and Latino Hip Hop artists and culture. Divulging his given name was the only thing he didn’t do. He shared his beginnings in West Philadelphia around 60th and Market St. how he honed his skills to the point he sent a demo tape to Dr Dre on the West Coast and was invited out to meet with him. He shared some of the inner working of the recording business how once he was signed by Dr. Dre and Interscope he languished in the background with several other well known and skilled artists as the label worked to aggressively groom and promote Eminem the Caucasian rapper who has since blown up and taken the industry by storm ala Benny Goodman, Elvis Presley and the Beatles in past generations.
The Last Emperor was philosophical about the situation, acknowledging Eminem did have skills and that a person like Eminem was tailor made for this race and color obsessed capitalistic system. Unlike many of the artists promoted by and in the corporate media The Last Emperor is not only a conscious artist/MC with his finger on the pulse of the community whose rhymes reflect his consciousness, he is also articulate, well read, well traveled with an enormous store of information with an astute grasp of the geo-political, psychological and socio-economic dynamics that shape the music industry in general and the Hip Hop community in particular.
“I don’t think I’d be where I at right now, even though I’m not where I want to be if it hadn’t been for reading and love of learning. Out of all my crew I talked about in my lecture, there are only two of us left. One is in the Army I’m here all the rest are in the penitentiary, deceased or nobody knows where they are. So if it weren’t for studying and taking education seriously no matter what I did out in the streets, I wouldn’t be here right now.” He shared his experiences good and bad with the audience who seemed genuinely in awe of him not because he had a million dollar record deal which he doesn’t, but because he is a down to earth, socially conscious brother with integrity and principles.
His collaborations with the Literary Lounge, KRS-One and numerous other cutting edge artists has garnered him a avid following. While he doesn’t have a record deal he is working on a project that he anticipates will come out in the next few months. “I want to make something clear, a lot of these individuals that place themselves as the faces of these large corporations aren’t even the people who are actually pulling the strings many of the times. They are in many instances front men for something larger and in some instances much more sinister. I had a couple of experiences with major labels that didn’t work out like Interscope and Rawkus and once I got out of those deals I’m pretty much a free agent now. I guess you could say I support and promote myself.”
He explained. When asked if he was he planning to work on his own, do his own thing he replied, “Obviously you need the capital to get your own thing off the ground and that’s what the larger corporate entity provides. I don’t have that sum to do it like I would like to so I’m looking at other options. Some smaller independent labels who allow me the same artistic freedom that I would really like to have without the larger headaches.” He shared he wasn’t bitter about Eminem’s success and didn’t think about it until a lot of other people started telling him he got a raw deal.
“Me being aware of how capitalism works, I didn’t see it in terms of black and white, like they just wanted to take a white rapper and put him over the black rappers and the black rapper had to go to the back of label and so forth and so on. First of all Eminem has skills which is something no other rapper of his hue prior to that had. I never saw it as a black white thing, I saw it as a capitalism thing. What’s going to make more capital? We all know black dudes can rap all day and night and are good at it but this is the first time a Caucasian rapper came out that had skills and this took Carte Blanche.”
He told the audience Dr.Dre told him he would have to wait for a few years while he (DrDre) worked on other projects like Eminem. “Some of the other artists felt they got dissed. I wasn’t willing to allow my artistic vision to be stifled so we (he and Dr. Dre) parted ways and it was amicable.” His free flowing presentation lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and the ensuing question and answer period pushed the class over its allotted time. University Security had to remind them to clear the room so they could close the building. Even with that folks followed The Last Emperor into the hallway and out of the building seeking autographs, interviews and networking opportunities.
Michael Coard was ecstatic about this semester’s first session and the turn out. Coard like all the instructors in PASCEP does it for free. In addition to teaching the course, Coard who is a successful criminal attorney in Philadelphia, goes into his own pocket to cover the expenses to bring in artists and people in the business like Lady B, Poor Righteous Poets, Chuck D and The Last Emperor to speak to and interact with his class.
“The goal of this course is to get our people to embrace our own culture.” Stated Coard. “The Last Emperor is the greatest ambassador for Hip Hop because not only does he have lyrical skills, he can rhyme. So folks who don’t have consciousness hear this guy rhymin’ and spittin’ and they are attracted to him. But then when they hear it, it’s like the worm on the hook, he brings them in with his skills and then he starts talking about Ivan Van Sertima , the Olmec heads and ancient Egypt. It was great.”.
The class is held Thursdays from 7-9 PM in the Anderson Hall Auditorium on the campus of Temple University in North Philadelphia. For more information about The Last Emperor visit his Website: thelastemperor.com or UndergroundHipHop.com
posted 21 February 2003
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#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
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#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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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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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 15 December 2011